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Robert Stokes Appointed Interim Department Head at KSU

by Aaron Mack


Kansas State University, a member of MATC’s Region VII Consortium of University Transportation Centers, recently appointed Dr. Robert Stokes as Interim Head for the Department of Civil Engineering. Stokes, who has held numerous leadership roles at KSU since 1991, has a multidisciplinary background in transportation planning and administration. Currently a professor of civil engineering, he has been the director of KSU’s transportation center since 2008; he is also co-director of Traffic Assistance Services for Kansas (TASK), a joint KDOT-KSU-KU program that provides a short highway safety course for cities and counties in Kansas. Stokes directs the annual Kansas Transportation Engineering Conference, which has been held at KSU for 95 years and attracts over 600 attendees from Kansas and the surrounding states each year. He is former president of the Kansas section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and served on the national ASCE board of directors for four years. He is a former city traffic engineer and city planner for the cities of Rapid City, SD, and Columbus, OH, respectively.

Stokes said that he looked forward to overseeing KSU’s continued success and progress on a number of exciting research projects currently underway by KSU students and faculty. Two of many notable projects include research by Dr. Robert Peterman on a laser-based system for determining existing stress in concrete railroad ties, which has elicited strong interest by the Federal Railroad Administration, among other parties, and a project by Dr. Sunanda Dissanayake to determine the cause of run-off-the-road highway crashes. These and other projects, said Stokes, demonstrate KSU’s commitment to fostering impactful research and contributing to MATC’s mission of enhancing the safety and efficiency of the national transportation network.

“We are very pleased to be part of MATC,” Stokes said. “I’m glad to see that there’s collaboration between the universities, not only within the state of Kansas, but in the whole region. We’ve really enjoyed and benefitted from that collaboration and in terms of what it means to our stakeholders. I think transportation in general is a collaborative endeavor … there’s a need for drawing from resources on a regional level if you’re going to be successful.”

Stokes said he looked forward to the future, when new opportunities and challenges will continue to provoke innovative ways of approaching and solving transportation engineering problems.

“It’s a great time to be a civil engineer, and a great time to be a transportation engineer. There are a lot of opportunities and a great need for civil engineers, and a whole range of things that, when we talk about transportation, go beyond just streets and highways. There is a great need for more engineers who can maintain and upgrade the infrastructure in a sustainable way. I think that will be reflected in opportunities that we see in the future for civil engineers and transportation engineers.”