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Transportation center director named

By Susan Trulove

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 15 - December 7, 1995

Thomas A. Dingus, a Virginia Tech alumnus and long-time transportation and intelligent-transportation-system (ITS) researcher, will be the new director of the university's Center for Transportation Research effective January 1, announced Leonard K. Peters, vice provost for research and dean of the Graduate School.

Dingus was founding director of the National Center for Transportation Technology at the University of Idaho and has been an associate director of the Center for Computer-Aided Design at the University of Iowa since 1993. At Iowa, he developed a research program to support the National Advanced Driving Simulator and the Iowa Driving Simulator.

"Dr. Dingus will bring specific knowledge and a broad range of experience to his position as director of the center," Peters said. "In addition, his knowledge of and affection for the Blacksburg area community will serve both the university and the community well."

College of Engineering Dean Bill Stephenson added, "The College of Engineering is pleased to have Tom join our faculty. He will bring added experience and expertise in Intelligent Transportation Systems to our nationally recognized program."

Peters also praised the leadership that has been provided to the university center by Ray Pethtel, who has been interim director. "Ray's management style and sensitivity have definitely made the center more productive and responsive."

Dingus first came to Blacksburg as a master's degree student in industrial engineering and operations research in 1979. He went on to earn his doctoral degree in IEOR from Virginia Tech in 1987. His undergraduate degree in systems engineering is from Wright State University.

Before coming to Tech, he worked as a research scientist with the Air Force Human Resources Laboratory, Advanced Simulation Techniques Branch, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and was a human-factors engineer at Martin Marietta Aerospace, Denver.

Dingus has conducted transportation research in general and ITS research in particular since 1984, including development of the first comprehensive analysis of the safety and usability of an advanced in-vehicle navigation system, the Etak navigator; comprehensive evaluation of the potential benefits of advanced crash-avoidance systems; and participation in the design and operation test of the TravTek Advanced Traveler Information System with 3,000 drivers who used TravTek to help choose destinations and find their way through the greater Orlando area.

He has received more than $4 million in research sponsorship from the Federal Highway Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and GM, Ford, and other industries.

He also is an active educator, first with the mechanical engineering department at Idaho, then with the psychology department-not only teaching, but developing human-factors courses and curriculum. At Iowa, he was an associate professor of industrial engineering responsible for instruction at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and again for development of a graduate curriculum in human factors.

He has developed transportation seminars and workshops, and spearheaded the development of a remote video master of science program.

"We look forward to Tom's contributions not only to research, but to teaching and outreach-to all of Virginia Tech's missions," Peters said.