December 1, 2000

Colloquium Speaker: William Harris


Dr. William Harris received the degrees of B.S.Ch.E. and M.S.E. from Purdue and an Sc.D. in Metallurgy from MIT. From 1941 to 1945 he was on active duty in the US Naval Reserve as Head of the Aircraft Armor Desk of the Engineering Division of the Bureau of Aeronautics. After completing his post war graduate studies, he was named Head, Ferrous Alloys Branch, Naval Research Laboratory, and engaged in studies of the brittle behavior of steels. In 1951 he was named to the Metallurgical Advisory Board, later the National Material Advisory Board and served as its Executive Director. The Board supported the US DOD in the development of materials critical to the national defense effort and sponsored the concept of interdisciplinary material laboratories. He was named Assistant to the Director of Battelle and later became head of the Washington Office of Battelle and Associate Director of the Columbus laboratories. In 1970 he was named Vice President, Research of the Association of American Railroads and served in that capacity until 1985. At AAR, he worked with his staff, the railroad industry, the railroad supply industry, and the Federal Railroad Administration to improve the technological program of the industry. In 1985 he joined Texas A&M as Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering, holder of the Snead Chair of Transportation Engineering, and Associate Director of the Texas Transportation Institute. Concurrently he worked on the Southwest University Transportation Research Center and helped to develop the Intelligent Transportation System in the United States. He left Texas A&M to serve as a Commissioner of the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection which emphasized actions to reduce the vulnerability of the transportation infrastructure and on the ways to increase the awareness of the need for improved security and more focussed education in cyber security. He continues to serve the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office as a consultant. Dr. Harris has served as Chair of the National Materials Advisory Board, President of the Metallurgical Society, President of Engineers Joint Council, Chair of the Southwest University Transportation Center, Chair of the International Heavy Haul Association, and Honorary member of the Board of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America. He has served as chair of several committees of the Transportation Research Board and as a member of the Executive Committee of the Board. He has also served as Secretary and Staff Director of a Presidential Task Force on Highway Safety. He has lectured or worked on technical problems in Europe, Brazil, Canada, Japan, South Africa, and South Korea. He received a letter of commendation for his service during World War II, the Matheson Medal of AIME for research, the Crumb and Carey awards of the Transportation Research Board, and was named Railroad Man of the Year by Modern Railroads and Research Man of the Year by the Transportation Research Forum. He was inducted in the Cooperstown Railroad Hall of Fame and the Heavy Haul of Fame. He was named to the National Academy of Engineering in 1976. He has received an Honorary Doctorate of Engineering from Purdue University. He has been named an Honorary Professor of the China Academy of Railway Sciences.


Colloquium Topic: Improving Surface Transportation Security

After physical and cyber attacks on structures and networks in the United States, President Clinton established the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection noting that certain infrastructures were essential to the economy and the defense of the United States. He requested that the PCCIP identify the threats and the responses to those threats that would assure reliable operation of those critical infrastructures. This presentation will address the threats to the transportation infrastructure and identify some promising approaches for increasing their security. The steps that must be taken to address physical and cyber threats will require increasing cooperation within the private sector as well as much more attention to public private partnerships.