Tom Maze’s Legacy at the Institute for Transportation

Friends and colleagues of Professor Tom Maze mourned his passing on Monday afternoon, June 8, 2009, at University of Minnesota Hospitals of heart failure. His presence and contributions to the transportation and education communities in Iowa and around the nation will be greatly missed.

Dr. Maze began his engineering career at Iowa State University, earning a B.S. in civil engineering from ISU in 1975. He went on to receive a master’s degree in engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1977 and a PhD in civil engineering from Michigan State University in 1982. He joined the faculty in the School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, where he was director of the Oklahoma Highway and Transportation Engineering Center. In 1988, he returned to Iowa State as an associate professor in the transportation division of the Department of Civil and Construction Engineering and as director of Iowa’s Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP).

In 1990, after also becoming co-director of Iowa State/University of Iowa’s Midwest Transportation Center (MTC) (the U.S. DOT’s university transportation research program for region 7), Dr. Maze initiated the Iowa Transportation Center as an umbrella organization for transportation-related research (MTC) and outreach (LTAP) at Iowa State. Through the ITC (later the Center for Transportation Research and Education and now the Institute for Transportation), Dr. Maze grew a robust program that has become one of the leading university transportation-related research programs in the United States with a solid reputation for research, academic excellence, and outreach.

Dr. Maze’s vision regarding advanced transportation technologies led to demonstrations and innovations in intelligent vehicle systems for commercial vehicles, transportation-related applications of geographic information systems, and traffic and safety engineering innovations. He also led significant efforts in transportation planning and in statewide management systems for transportation infrastructure that have been models for other states. In recent years, he has focused on weather-related issues through a final program he initiated in 2003, the Center for Weather Impacts on Mobility and Safety (C-WIMS).

In 1996, on behalf of Iowa State University, Dr. Maze helped forge a progressive transportation research management agreement between the university and the Iowa Department of Transportation. This efficient administrative tool continues to facilitate the center’s quick response to identified transportation-related research and technology needs in Iowa and reflects a level of university-agency partnering that is the envy of many states.

Dr. Maze has taught more than 70 courses covering some 30 topics. As a demanding but generous academic mentor, he was the major advisor for 30 graduate students at Iowa State, nine of whom were doctoral students in civil engineering/transportation. He also took a keen interest in nurturing new faculty members and guided them in developing successful careers. He developed a graduate-level academic enrichment and learning community program at Iowa State called Transportation Scholars, the heart of which is a semester-long series of multidisciplinary seminars that Iowa State shares with other universities through distance technologies. To date, more than 200 Transportation Scholars have participated in the seminars, received stipends to work on research problems, met visiting experts and leaders in the transportation community, presented papers for student peers and local professionals, and participated in special events like the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board. All of them have benefitted from Dr. Maze’s progressive approach to transportation education.

In addition to research, teaching, and mentoring, Dr. Maze was intensely involved in enhancing transportation technology transfer through professional training and outreach activities. One of his legacies is the Midwest Transportation Research Symposium, a conference he initiated in 1996 in partnership with the Iowa DOT. This biennial event provides a Midwest venue for disseminating national research in a format similar to the Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting. Through ongoing activities like the symposium, as well as the extensive body of work he leaves behind, Dr. Maze’s accomplishments will continue to have an impact across Iowa, the country, and beyond for a very long time.

Tom Maze
Professor Tom Maze, InTrans founder