About ITE

C. J. Keese

C. J. KeeseJack graduated from Texas A&M with a B.S. in highway engineering in 1941. He then served in the U.S. Army from 1941 to 1945 advancing to the rank of Captain. Jack worked as a Field Engineer with the Texas Highway Department from 1945 to 1948 before returning to Texas A&M to pursue his master’s degree. In 1952, he received the first master’s degree in highway and traffic engineering from Texas A&M.

Jack worked as an Assistant Professor and Assistant Research Engineer at Texas A&M from 1948 to 1953. He then worked as a Traffic Engineer for the City of Midland from 1953 to 1955. After returning to Texas A&M in 1955 as an Associate Professor of Highways and Traffic Engineering (another first), he was promoted to Professor in 1958. Jack is generally credited with starting the traffic-engineering graduate program at Texas A&M. He, and others, also worked from 1954 to 1969 to get traffic-engineering experience recognized as meeting requirements for professional registration in Texas.

In 1956, Texas A&M developed the state’s First Annual School in Traffic Engineering under Jack’s leadership. Over the next 15 years, these schools acquainted city and state traffic engineers with the latest concepts and technology in the field of traffic engineering. Jack and Texas A&M also promoted a 1964 traffic-engineering course for 15 college professors from around the United States. Because of this course, many participants began teaching traffic engineering to their students and promoting it as a profession.

Jack had returned to Texas A&M in 1955 to teach and help establish the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) as a university-based transportation research center. TTI was founded in 1950, but it was small and relatively unknown in 1955. One of Jack’s first assignments in establishing a research program was recruitment and training of outstanding staff, which initially yielded such people as Don Capelle, Dick McCasland, Neil Rowan and Don Woods. By 1958, Jack was Head of TTI’s Highway Design and Traffic Engineering Division, which was a position he held until 1962.

From 1962 to 1976 when he had his first heart attack, Jack served as Executive Officer/Director of TTI. Under his leadership, TTI became one of the top transportation-engineering research centers in the United States, growing to 200 employees and a $3.9 million budget by 1976. Perhaps even more impressive was that TTI’s research program employed 120 students in 1976. This employment financed their education and provided many well-trained students for the traffic-engineering profession. These people contributed to the transportation profession far beyond the boundaries of Texas.

During Jack’s tenure as Director, TTI researchers focused on basic research in highway materials, highway safety and traffic engineering. Some of the innovations developed in this period were breakaway sign supports, crash cushions, median barriers, culvert grates, guardrail end treatments, railroad-grade crossing inventories, freeway flow models, ramp metering and motorist information systems. Although Jack did not participate in each of these projects, his vision of transportation as an interdisciplinary problem encouraged others to look beyond the traditional solutions to safety and transportation-system problems. Jack was quoted in a profile that appeared in the Highway Research Board News as having said, “Research has no inventory value” and must be applied as fast as the results are known.

Besides being an outstanding teacher and administrator, Jack was an accomplished researcher. A 1960 paper co-authored by Jack, Charles Pinnell and Dick McCasland won the Highway Research Board’s Award for Outstanding Merit. A 1967 paper co-authored by Jack, Don Drew and Conrad Dudek won the same award. Jack also received the National Safety Council’s Award of Merit in 1962 and was recognized as one of 39 outstanding construction men in 1966 by Engineering News-Record.

Jack joined ITE in 1954 as one of the 20 founding members of the Texas Section. Over the next 20 years, he served on many TexITE committees and as TexITE Secretary-Treasurer, Vice President and President from 1961 to 1963. He was honored as TexITE’s Traffic Engineer of the Year in 1975 (the second person so honored). Now, more than 45 years later, Jack is still a member of ITE.

Many transportation professionals and ITE members worked under Jack’s supervision. Those individuals are continuing to train others. His personal contributions to the transportation profession are numerous, notable and certain to last beyond his lifetime.