USDOT Establishes New Advisory Committee on Innovation

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently formed the Transforming Transportation Advisory Committee or TTAC to provide insight to the agency regarding how to support and implement “innovations.”

[Above photo by the USDOT]

The department said the 27 members of this advisory committee were selected from across academia, think tanks, the public sector, labor, and private industry to offer insight on a wide-range of transportation-related topics such as automation, cybersecurity, safety, accessibility, entrepreneurship, privacy, equity, and more.

“We are living in a time filled with unprecedented opportunity and unprecedented challenges in transportation,” said USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a statement.

“The deep expertise and diverse perspectives of this impressive group will provide advice to ensure the future of transportation is safe, efficient, sustainable, equitable, and transformative,” he added.

USDOT said that TTAC members will serve two-year terms and may be reappointed. The agency added that the first TTAC meeting will be held on January 18 and explore several key issues related to:

  • Pathways to safe, secure, equitable, environmentally friendly and accessible deployments of emerging technologies;Integrated approaches to promote greater cross-modal integration of emerging technologies, in particular applications to deploy automation;
  • Policies that encourage innovation to grow and support a safe and productive U.S. workforce, as well as foster economic competitiveness and job quality;
  • Approaches and frameworks that encourage the secure exchange and sharing of transformative transportation data, including technologies and infrastructure, across the public and private sectors that can guide core policy decisions across USDOT’s strategic goals; and,
  • Ways USDOT can identify and elevate cybersecurity solutions and protect privacy across transportation systems and infrastructure.

USDOT noted that its TTAC membership includes Eileen Vélez-Vega, secretary of the Puerto Rico’s Department of Transportation and Public Works or “DTOP.”

Eileen Vélez-Vega. Photo by AASHTO.

Throughout her career, Vélez-Vega – who became DTOP’s first female secretary in 2021 – has specialized in the design and construction for commercial and general aviation airports, as well as multidisciplinary projects and business development.

Prior to DTOP, Vélez-Vega worked for three years with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, MS, as a research civil engineer. She then worked for the North Carolina-based consulting firm Kimley-Horn from 2006 until she returned to Puerto Rico in 2014, when she relocated to manage the Kimley-Horn Puerto Rico office as vice president of business development on the island.

During that time, Vélez-Vega worked as a transportation consultant for the Puerto Rico Ports Authority, the Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority and private land development.

Vélez-Vega received a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez and a Masters in Engineering from Mississippi State University. She currently serves as the AASHTO Aviation Council Chair.

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