URI names permanent director to lead its high-tech transportation
KINGSTON, R.I., November 6, 1998--The University of Rhode Island has
named Daniel W. Urish, URI professor of civil and environmental engineering
at URI for the past two decades, to lead the University's new Transportation
Center for Research and Education.
Urish, of Wickford, directs the center that was recently awarded
nearly $12 million over six years from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
With a $12 million matching requirement, the total program amount is $24
As the first permanent director of the center, Urish succeeds Raymond
M. Wright, URI chairman and professor of civil and environmental engineering,
who served as interim director during the grant application process.
Through legislation approved in the spring, the federal government established
23 new university transportation centers, in addition to the 10 existing
centers. URI is one of only six schools nationwide to receive the maximum
"This is probably one of the most exciting things to happen in 100
years at the University," Urish said. "It allows us here at URI
and the state to enter the 21st Century full speed ahead.
Urish knows plenty about moving full speed ahead after serving 21 years
in the U.S. Navy. Urish began his career as an engineer in Rhode Island
in the 1960s, as a Davisville Navy Seabee.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Urish was responsible for the design
and construction of base defenses at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and in the early
days of Vietnam, he developed the water supply system for the Allied Forces
throughout South Vietnam. In the 1970s, he led a battalion of Seabees to
transform the jungle covered atoll of Diego Garcia into a major U.S. Naval
base, for which he was awarded the Legion of Merit.
In 1975, he retired from the Navy and earned the first Ph.D. awarded
in civil and environmental engineering at URI. In addition to educating
hundreds of civil engineers for the state over the past 20 years, his research
work has ranged from sewer overflow investigations in Providence to ecosystem
studies in the mangrove swamps of Belize for the Smithsonian Institute.
He is the director of the URI Engineering Research and Training Center,
which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Since transportation systems have such an impact on nearly every aspect
of contemporary life, including major impacts on the environment, Urish
is a perfect choice for the job, according to Thomas J. Kim, dean of URI's
College of Engineering.
"Dan understands that efficient transportation systems can go a
long way toward reducing pollution caused by clogged intersections, miles
of tie-ups on interstate highways and accidents that can result in hazardous
waste spills," Kim said. "He also brings his skill and enthusiasm
to a project that will join University faculty members, Rhode Island Department
of Transportation officials and managers and business leaders to help develop
coordinated transportation systems for the 21st Century."
The theme of the URI center's activities will be "Advanced Transportation
Infrastructure and Systems." It will focus on developing and enhancing
transportation research, education and outreach at the state, regional,
national and international levels.
"What makes our center unique from the others is our strong educational
component," said Urish, who was voted 1994 Engineer of the Year by
the Rhode Island Society of Professional Engineers.
A critical element in the center is the partnership with the state Department
of Transportation. URI will link a satellite Transportation Operations Center
with the RIDOT's center to gather up-to-the-second data on a variety of
transportation problems. Using sensors and video technology, URI researchers
will be able to research traffic patterns during accidents and high volume
periods, pollution levels and pavement performance.
URI students will work at the URI Transportation Operations Center and
in the field conducting research on real transportation problems as they
happen and as they affect the state and its communities.
"The objective is that this be applied science, and that the findings
be released in a form that makes them readily usable," said Urish who
in the last five years was principal or co-principal investigator on 28
research projects totaling $3 million.
"Getting this center together is a fantastic challenge, but a fantastic
privilege for me," he said. "From the standpoint of engineering
at URI, this is once in a lifetime."
For Further Information: Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116