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President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection

Photo of Dr. Harris; jpeg 9k

William J. Harris


Dr. Harris, an expert in the field of transportation, joined the Commission in February 1997. In addition to his consulting practice, he was the Associate Director of the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) from 1985 to 1995. His service there contributed to development of a major program in intelligent transportation systems and to a longer range view of transportation issues and their relationship to education and research. He continues as a member of TTI in his capacity as Distinguished Professor Emeritus.

Dr. Harris received a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering and a master's degree in metallurgy from Purdue in 1940, and a doctorate of science from MIT in 1948. During World War II he was on active duty in the Bureau of Aeronautics, U.S. Navy Department in charge of the aircraft armor program. After completing his doctorate, he joined the staff of the Naval Research Laboratory, where he pursued studies of the relationship between metallurgical structure, composition, and steel properties with emphasis on ship failure mechanisms. He served the National Research Council as Director and later Chair of the National Material Advisory Board where he contributed to the commercial and military utilization of high performance materials.

During his many years with Battelle Memorial Institute, he worked on pipe line issues, ship failures, the development of research and development in third world countries, and the coordination of national research planning. He served the Association of American Railroads as Vice President for Research from 1970 to 1985. During that period, he established a major research capability that made significant contributions to safety and the efficiency of railroad transportation. He then joined Texas A&M University where he was named Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering and the E.B. Snead Professor of Transportation Engineering.

Among the honors he has received are the Mathewson Medal of American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Carey award from the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Research Council, the Crum award from the TRB of the National Academy of Sciences, Research Man of the Year from the Transportation Research Forum, an honorary doctorate from Purdue, an honorary research professorship of the China Academy of Railway Sciences, and Railroad Man of the Year from Modern Railroads. He was elected to the Railroad Cooperstown Hall of Fame. He received a special citation from the Intelligent Transportation Society (ITS) of America for leadership in the establishment of the ITS World Congresses. He was elected to membership in the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.

He has served as President of The Metallurgical Society and Engineers Joint Council and as Chair of the National Materials Advisory Board. He is an honorary member of the Board of the ITS of America. He has represented the United States on committees supporting NATO. He was the U.S. representative to the International Union of Railroads for ten years. He participated in the establishment of the Korean Institute of Science and Technology. He organized and served for seven years as Chair of the International Heavy Haul Association. He has carried out international missions for the United Nations Development Organization, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the World Bank.

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