Built on a firm University of California Berkeley foundation, former Institute of Transportation Studies Director Samer Madanat is taking his career to the next level. He was recently named Dean of Engineering at New York University Abu Dhabi. He will be moving to the Middle East for his new post in July 2015.
Madanat, the Xenel Distinguished Professor of Engineering and Chair of the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, stepped down as the ITS Director in June 2014 after nine years at the helm.
“His leadership and vision during his lengthy service to the institute brought people together and he was able to look into the future,” ITS Director Alexandre Bayen said. “As ITS is expanding the scope of its collaborations internationally, we are looking forward to leveraging this opportunity to work together with the city of Abu Dhabi, which has a lot of very interesting transportation problems to offer to our research community.”
Under Madanat’s leadership, the Institute established numerous initiatives to raise its profile in the landscape of transportation research and practice, including the formation of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) to study the economic, social, environmental and technological aspects of sustainable transportation. Initial successes include, with Toyota’s support, the construction and commission of a fully operational high-pressure, fast-fill hydrogen refueling station near the Richmond Field Station to support fuel-cell vehicle research at TSRC.
Introduced and sunsetted under Madanat’s tenure, the VOLVO Center for Future Urban Transport firmly established ITS’s worldwide reputation as one of only 10 designated VOLVO research centers to study urban transportation policy and technology interdependence for sustainable transportation strategies for the world's cities. Researchers collaborated on planning an advanced network of next-generation, bus rapid transit in Barcelona with the Center for Transport Innovation (CENIT), and conceived and led scientific research efforts underlying plan development for the fast, high-frequency lines.
Through collaboration with counterparts at the Institutes of Transportation Studies on the UC Davis, UC Irvine and UCLA campuses, ITS Berkeley was successful in winning funding for a $6.5 million multi-campus research program in the area of transportation sustainability.
All the while, with strong leadership from their respective directors, long-standing ITS Berkeley centers (NEXTOR, PATH, PRC, and SafeTREC) continued to thrive. The Federal Region 9 University Transportation Center was successfully re-competed for and is still headquartered at ITS Berkeley: UCTC changed its name and director to become UC CONNECT and works to promote economic competitiveness by enhancing multi-modal transport for California and the region. The center has strengthened the Institute’s ties with the Federal and State DOTs.
“Transportation is a very inter-disciplinary field, and here at Berkeley we have many very smart and creative people in areas relevant to Transportation such as electrical engineering, city planning, public health, public policy, mechanical engineering, operations research, economics and many other fields,” Madanat said. “My job was to bring these people together and watch them create magic.”
Madanat received a B.Sc. in Civil Engineering from the University of Jordan in 1986, and a M.S and Ph.D. in Transportation Systems from MIT in 1988 and 1991 respectively. Several of his former students are faculty members at universities in the US and abroad.