Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Robert Lettiere recently appointed New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) President Robert A. Altenkirch, Ph.D., to a seven-member, Blue Ribbon Transportation Commission. The Commission, chaired by Lettiere, will make recommendations to the legislature within one year regarding transportation funding and priorities. The information will help the State renew the Transportation Trust Fund that expires in 2004.
In making this appointment both Lettiere and Governor James E. McGreevey said that the Commission’s goal is to set forth a transportation strategy to guide the state through the next decade. McGreevey noted that the state’s transportation system was vital for the health and well being of communities, working families, the economy and the quality of life in New Jersey.
“I am honored to participate in the work of the Blue Ribbon Transportation Commission,” said Altenkirch. “Maintaining and improving the many aspects of transportation critical to individuals and industry in New Jersey presents challenges that require the creative use of human, technological and financial resources. NJIT is home to several centers dedicated to meeting these challenges, and as a member of the commission I anticipate sharing a wealth of forward-looking research that can help in shaping our state’s transportation policies and solutions.”
While dean of engineering in the late 1980s at Mississippi State University (MSU), Altenkirch led an effort to secure National Science Foundation funding for the establishment of an engineering research center linked to Navy which eventually became the foremost site in the United States for computational field simulation, essentially a testing ground for improving submarines. Later, the center was instrumental in helping the Mississippi attract a $1 billion Nissan manufacturing plant now under construction.
A mechanical engineer, Altenkirch holds a Ph.D. from Purdue University, a M.S. from University of California, Berkeley, and a B.S.M.E. from Purdue. In addition to his hundreds of publications and presentations, he is a reviewer for numerous professional journals. He is a member of several professional societies including Phi Eta Sigma, Tau Beta Pi, Sigma Xi, American Society for Engineering Education and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He is a Fellow of ASME.
Altenkirch has a strong background in university research, teaching and administration with extensive experience in program development, fundraising, and federal relations. His strong teaching and academic career at the universities of Kentucky, MSU and Washington State was followed by his return to MSU as vice president for research. He served Kentucky as professor and chair of mechanical engineering, MSU as professor and dean of the College of Engineering, and Washington State as professor and dean of the College of Engineering and Architecture.
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Altenkirch is married to Beth Harsch Altenkirch. The couple, who now live in Maplewood, have two grown children.