ITE Journal - January 2020 - 32

| member to member

PTOE Perspectives
The first exam for the Professional Traffic Operations Engineer (PTOE) certification was administered in January
1999 by the Transportation Professional Certification Board. Twenty years later, the certification remains among
the most prestigious in the industry. One ITE member shares his experience holding the certification, and
another explains why his agency requires professionals submitting traffic studies have a PTOE.

Ben Colucci Rios,
Ph.D., P.E., PTOE (F)
Director, Puerto Rico LTAP Professor,
Department of Civil Engineering and Surveying
University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM)
ITE Positions Held
Founding Member of
ITE Puerto Rico Chapter - 1993
President, ITE Puerto Rico - 1993-1994
Awards
ITE Wilbur S. Smith Distinguished
Transportation Educator Award - 2019
Distinguished Civil Engineer, Institute
of Civil Engineers (IIC-CIAPR) - 2014
Administrator's Public Service
Award, FHWA-USDOT - 2018
Distinguished Professor (UPRM) -
1996-1997; 2014-2015

Attendees at the Florida Puerto Rico
District Meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico
in November 2019.
32

J a n uar y 2020

i te j o u rn al

ITE JOURNAL: Tell us a little more about your history of obtaining the PTOE certification.
BEN COLUCCI RIOS: After completing my Ph.D. at Purdue University in 1984, I started
working as an assistant professor at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez in transportation engineering. I also started writing proposals for the Highway and Transportation
Authority in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Federal Highway Administration. I received an
award to establish the Puerto Rico Transportation Technology Center (T2) - Puerto Rico
LTAP (Local Technical Assistance Program). This center provides training and technical
assistance to transportation professionals in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in all
areas associated with the planning, design, construction, operations, and maintenance of
the built highway transportation infrastructure. In the late 1990s, I realized how critical
it was to better prepare myself for the challenges the transportation engineers will face in
the upcoming millennium. Eugene Wilson, P.E. (H) originally told me about the PTOE
certification and the benefits that come with it. I started studying ITE's PTOE Refresher
Course, and realized I could obtain additional in-depth knowledge of vital areas within the
traffic operations discipline.
ITEJ: When did you first take the PTOE exam, and what's it been like keeping up with the
professional development hours (PHDs) to maintain the certification?
COLUCCI RIOS: I took the PTOE exam in 2002. Keeping up with the professional
development hours allows me stay up to date with the latest technologies and solutions related
to traffic operations, traffic safety, innovative geometric design, transportation forensics
and risk management, as well as uninterrupted traffic flow analysis tools. Continuing my
education has opened a window of opportunities to work in traffic operations, and create and
adapt new graduate courses in the area of highway safety. It's also allowed me to network with
a community of transportation professionals at the local, national, and international levels.
ITEJ: How do you believe having the PTOE certification has set you apart in your career
path, and what advice would you give to others interested in obtaining a certification?
COLUCCI RIOS: Having the PTOE has made me a better and more sensible professional,
able to understand the needs of our stakeholders addressing context sensitive designs. The
certification helps me recognize the diversity and needs of transportation users in urban
versus rural areas, as well as the importance of creating a sustainable built infrastructure
and incorporating resilient designs. Transportation professionals are facing more complex
problems in the 21st century than ever before, requiring a higher level of education and
specialization in diverse areas. If you have the passion for your vocation, you will find the
space to take courses and get the PDHs needed to keep you up to date within whatever
discipline in traffic operations you work in.
ITEJ: The Florida Puerto Rico District meeting was recently held in November 2019 in San
Juan, Puerto Rico, the first annual meeting since the new District was formed. What excites
you most about the engagement taking place at the new District level?



ITE Journal - January 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ITE Journal - January 2020

ITE Journal - January 2020 - Cover1
ITE Journal - January 2020 - Cover2
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ITE Journal - January 2020 - Cover3
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