Walter Kraft, of Summit, has had a long and rewarding career keeping people on the move. He’s an internationally-known expert in traffic engineering and intelligent transportation systems, which explains why NJIT awarded this 1962 alum its Alumni Achievement Award on May 22, 2010.
Kraft started on the road to his first job in the field, at Edwards and Kelcey, with a BS in civil engineering. It was an association that would last more than 30 years.
Kraft was first given the choice of working in one of three areas: structures, highways, or something called “traffic.” Looking further into his options, he chose the traffic department. “It struck me that traffic engineering was more of a ‘people’ profession, meeting the everyday needs of people who need to get from one place to another,” he recalls.
In meeting these needs, Kraft rose from staff engineer to partner and senior vice president. Along the route, he worked on projects ranging from optimizing the flow of traffic for new and expanding shopping centers to installation of the first bicycle lane in Manhattan. He introduced personal computers at the firm. “For some, that was a genuinely traumatic change in the corporate culture,” he says with a wry tone. During his time at Edwards and Kelcey, in addition to taking care of demanding professional responsibilities, Kraft added an MS in civil engineering and a doctorate of engineering science to his academic credentials ― both from NJIT.
In 1994, Kraft headed in a new direction. He joined PB Farradyne, a subsidiary of Parsons Brinkerhoff, as a senior vice president. Over the next decade, Kraft served as president of PB Farradyne Engineering and vice president of Parsons Brinkerhoff Quade and Douglas. Much of his work focused on advocating and implementing the capabilities of “intelligent” traffic technologies made possible by the fast-growing power of computers and advanced remote sensors. Electronic signage could now give drivers real-time information about road conditions and traffic flow. First responders could be routed more quickly to the site of accidents and other emergencies, with others on the road routed away from hazards that include especially dangerous secondary accidents.
A Professional Engineer licensed in more than a dozen states, Kraft’s expertise has been widely honored, particularly by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the Institution of Transportation Engineers (ITE). He served as ITE’s international president in 1987 and later in various leadership positions, including chair of the Future Directions Advisory Committee. In 1999, he was named an ITE Honorary Member ― at the time only the 60th member to receive what the institute describes as the “highest recognition of notable and outstanding professional achievement.”
Over the years, Kraft has also shared his knowledge as an adjunct faculty member at NJIT and schools across the country. In 2010, he continues to promote state-of-the art traffic engineering through his own consulting practice and as executive technical director for Eng-Wong, Taub & Associates.
Kraft was a key mover in developing NJIT’s graduate transportation program, and he remains connected to the university as a member of the Albert Dorman Honors College Board of Visitors. His advice to the young men and women currently pursuing their educational goals at his alma mater ― “Study hard, get involved, learn to be a good communicator, live by ethics. But be sure to enjoy your days at NJIT.”