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AUTC Director Billy G. Connor, PE, retired from the Alaska DOT&PF after 30 years of service. He spent twenty years in AKDOT&PF’s research branch as a research engineer, ten of these as the Chief of Research for the department. His work covered a wide range of transportation activities including developing Alaska’s pavement design procedures, pavement management, maintenance and forensic engineering, permafrost, frost heave and thaw weakening research, hydraulic research including fish passage, rip rap design and development of Alaska’s Hydraulic Manual, and numerous other transportation related activities.
He has chaired two TRB committees and been active in numerous other TRB committees and activities. He has also served on the AASHTO Research Advisory Committee, ASCE Technical Council of Cold Regions Engineering (currently chairing the Frost Action Committee), and numerous other state and national activities. Mr. Connor has also worked as a Construction Project Manager for AKDOT&PF, managing over $30 million per year.
Goals for AUTC
- Through a strong inter-campus transportation program, the University of Alaska will build a prominent organization to address transportation in cold climates. AUTC managed from the UAF campus, will become the focal point of all transportation-related education, research and technology transfer activities by engaging all three main campuses (UAA, UAF, and UAS).
- To coordinate the activities of these three campuses. Faculty members and administration will be encouraged to participate and collaborate in the program by lending their individual interests and expertise. Communication, trust, and pride are essential to a successful program. Developing these attributes is both a goal and an expected outcome, and must be achieved in order for the center to realize its full potential.
- To raise awareness regarding transportation issues. This includes not only engineers, but also business, natural sciences, behavioral sciences, communication, and other disciplines. Too often, transportation issues are approached using only one discipline, which leads to ineffective and incomplete communication and results in conflict and distrust. Consequently, AUTC’s policy is to include all appropriate disciplines in executing transportation research. Further, education in all disciplines supporting the transportation field will be encouraged.
- To work with other universities to provide classes which cannot be offered through the University of Alaska. In return, the UA System will offer courses in subjects related to transportation in cold regions or other areas where AUTC has specific expertise. AUTC is already developing alliances with the UTCs in the northwest and other UTCs across the nation. We expect this endeavor to occur rapidly because it will be facilitated by already-existing relationships as well as UAF staff and the AUTC Director’s past and current activities with TRB and other national and international transportation-related organizations. Indeed, several meetings aimed at fostering collaboration with Northwestern UTCs have already occurred.
- To share resources and knowledge, with other countries who share climates similar to Alaska, including Canada, Scandinavian Countries, China, Japan, and Russia. The UAF engineering community already has strong ties with other countries in the circumpolar north, through collaborative international research projects and such partnerships as the Alaskan Russian Center within the UA system. Such international cooperation is already common practice throughout the UA System, as it is to a small degree with AKDOT&PF. In addition, the UA System has a tuition waiver for the Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories, British Columbia and Nunavut Territory so students can attend at Alaska resident tuition rates.