ITE Journal - March 2021 - 16

| member to member

From Pen to Practice

Kay Fitzpatrick,
Ph.D., P.E., PMP (F)
Senior Research Engineer,
Roadway Design Program
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Education
Ph.D., Civil Engineering,
Pennsylvania State University
M.S. and B.S., Civil Engineering,
Texas A&M University
ITE Leadership
Chair, Local Arrangement Committee
for TexITE District Meeting, 2015
President, Brazos Valley ITE Section, 2014
Chair, Committee on Marking Patterns
Used at Pedestrian Crossings, 2009-2011
Chair, Traffic Engineering Council, 1998-2001
Honors and Awards
AASHTO Sweet 16 Project Award, 2020
Transportation Research Board (TRB)
Emeritus Member, 2018
Texas A&M University (TAMU) Regents
Fellow Service Award, 2015
ITE Burton W. Marsh Award for
Distinguished Service, 2014
ITE Coordinating Council Best
Product Award, 2011
TRB paper awards: Mickle (2015, 2012),
Waller (2010), Burggraf (1995)

Fun Fact
With her youngest in
college and facing an empty nest,
Kay has begun quilting in earnest.
She spent time earlier this year making
masks for several groups (pictured right).
16

Ma rch 2021

ite j o u rn al

ITE JOURNAL: You have used your writing to convey your transportation knowledge to
other professionals and the greater world. What value do you get from publishing articles
and why has this been an important part of advancing your career?
FITZPATRICK: When I decided that research was the transportation engineering career path
I wanted to pursue, I knew that technology transfer would be an important part. Research that
just sits on a shelf gathering dust does not provide benefits to society. We need to find effective
ways to deliver our research findings to those who can implement them. Writing papers for
ITE Journal and other publications provides the opportunity to communicate important
research findings for transportation professionals to use-for example, the use of pedestrian
hybrid beacons (see page 23). Even with the various papers I have written, I still struggle with
generating sentences and documenting my thoughts. Each of my papers go through multiple
versions, sometimes a painful amount; however, it is worth it, as improving conditions for all
transportation users has been a fundamental motivation within my career.
ITEJ: You have been a trailblazer for women in the transportation field. What advice do
you have for young and emerging professionals who may feel intimidated if they don't look,
sound, or work like those around them?
FITZPATRICK: I did not start my career with the intention of being a trailblazer. I just wanted
to be able to use my math and science abilities to help others-but in the background. I wanted
my work to speak for itself, rather than having the attention focused on me. Along the way, I
realized that as a woman in engineering, I can and should help others who may feel it is too
difficult, or that they do not fit in. Even having been blessed with a mind that can see patterns
and develop solutions, it takes help from others to have a successful career. I have greatly
benefited from others-both men and women-who provided encouragement at several
points in my career. I have used the skills and encouragement they showed me and applied
them when helping others with an interest in transportation engineering. So, those early in
your career, and especially to the young ladies in the audience...if someone closes the door
in your face, look for another door or perhaps a window. Keep focus on your goals and find a
way, recognizing that the path may need to take some unanticipated turns.
ITEJ: As a longtime member of ITE, what are some of your most memorable achievements
and how have they enhanced your career?
FITZPATRICK: Like many, ITE was important to me while I was a student. The first ITE
office I held was when I was a graduate student at Texas A&M. I enjoyed being able to interact
with others who were at the same place in their career, or being able to meet and talk to those
who were further along professionally about engineering
challenges I was currently addressing. The memorable
achievement within ITE that enhanced my career was
successfully chairing Committee 5B-28 (Geometric Design and
Operational Considerations for Trucks). I was rather young
at the time, and feeling so as I encouraged the committee
members to meet my deadlines. That committee provided
me the opportunity to demonstrate my dedication to the
profession and my capabilities as a leader. A number of other
doors opened with that success. ITE provides multiple opportunities to be engaged at the local, District, Technical Council,
and International level-you just need to seek them out. itej



ITE Journal - March 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ITE Journal - March 2021

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