Neal Hawkins


Associate Director, InTrans





Adjunct Lecturer, Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

Co-Director, REACTOR



About Neal

Mr. Hawkins has more than 25 years of experience in traffic engineering, operations, and safety. Complemetary to his roles at the Institute for Transportation, Mr. Hawkins also serves the unique role as the Iowa Department of Transportation’s traffic operations engineer, which is a committed funding stream for research support to the Office of Traffic Operations.

After getting a master’s degree in civil engineering at Iowa State University, he worked 10 years as a traffic engineer with the city of Des Moines, 4 years in consulting as a transportation team leader, and the last 12 years at the Center for Transportaton Research and Education. Mr. Hawkins serves on a number of professional committees for the Transportation Research Board, Institute of Transportation Engineers, and the American Traffic Safety Services Association. He is a past president of the Missouri Valley Section of ITE and past chair of the ITE Task Force on Ethics. He is a registered professional engineer in Iowa.


  • MS, Civil Engineering, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, 1990 
  • BS, Civil Engineering, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, 1988 

Professional Experience

  • Academic (2003–present)
    • 2016–present. Associate Director, Institute for Transportation
    • 2010–2016. Director, Center for Transportation Research and Education
    • 2009–2016. Director, Center for Weather Impacts on Mobility and Safety
    • 2010–present. Pooled Fund Manager, FHWA Aurora Roadway Weather Information Systems
    • 2013–present. Traffic Operations Engineer (25% appointment with the Iowa DOT)
    • 2009–2013. Traffic Safety Engineer (25% appointment with the Iowa DOT)
    • 2009–2012. MTC Research Coordinator (Midwest Transportation Consortium)
    • 2003–2010. Associate Director, Traffic Operations at CTRE
    • 2003–present. Adjunct Lecturer, College of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering 
  • Private Consulting (1999–2003)
    • 1999–2003. Senior Project Manager, HR Green Company 
  • Public Sector (1989–1999)
    • 1993–1999. Senior Traffic Engineer, City of Des Moines Traffic and Transportation
    • 1989–1993.Assistant Traffic Engineer, City of Des Moines Traffic and Transportation 
  • Other (1986–1989)
    • 1988–1989. Graduate Research Assistant, Civil Engineering, Iowa State University, Ames, IA
    • 1987–1988. Student Engineer II, Oklahoma DOT, Norman, OK
    • 1986–1988. Undergraduate Research Assistant, Dr. Tom Maze, University of Oklahoma 

Selected Research

  • FHWA Roadway Data Improvement Program (RDIP) Assistance Project: Worked with states directly to discuss and recommend opportunities to improve data collection and safety analysis. Mr. Hawkins participated in eight one-week DOT reviews for the following states: NC, LA, RI, NH, NE, TN, and AK.
  • FHWA Evaluation of the Effectiveness of the Sequential Dynamic Curve Warning System: Served as Co-PI and was involved in all aspects of this national field evaluation of a promising new technology for the Highways for Life program.
  • MnDOT Evaluation of the Truck and Agricultural Vehicle Behavior at Reduced Conflict Intersections: Serving as PI, this project focused on whether the frequency of truck crashes may increase due to the added exposure of trucks in the oncoming lanes as they complete the U-turn as part of an RCI (SHRP2 S04A).
  • SHRP2 Roadway Information Database: Served as lead for all project quality assurance as well as a support role on all project management and communications.
  • MnDOT Evaluation of the safety impact of the Intersection Collision Warning System: Served as Co-PI on all aspects of this field evaluation by documenting the safety and operational benefit of rural intersection collision warning systems across Minnesota.
  • Iowa DOT Development of a Comprehensive Access Management Policy and Guidelines: Served as Co-PI on all aspects of this research by developing guidance on the basis of a quantitative risk assessment related to crash rates, traffic volumes, and access management strategies.
  • Iowa DOT Traffic Operations: Served as lead PI for a significant on-going project to support statewide operations in a variety of areas: performance monitoring, traffic critical work zones, capacity, creating visualization tools, probe data, travel times, weather and incident impacts to reliability, and policy.
  • Illinois DOT Evaluating All-Weather Pavement Markings & Laboratory Methods to Simulate Field Exposure: Served as lead PI for a multi-university team documenting the wet performance of different marking materials across Illinois over a three-year study period.

Selected Publications

Professional Affiliations, Honors, and Awards

  • TRB Committee: AHD55 Member, AND40 Friend 
  • ITE: Fellow, MOVITE Past President, Past Chair of Ethics Task Force 
  • ITS Heartland: Past Academic Sector Director
  • ATSSA: Member and Past Pavement Marking Committee Member
  • Awarded the Missouri Valley Section of the Institute of Transportation’s “Distinguished Member Award,” an honorary designation presented to a member of the six state sections who has provided outstanding and significant contributions to MOVITE over a period of many years (2013)
  • Awarded the Institute of Transportation’s MOVITE Section “Melvin B. Meyer Transportation Professional of the Year,” which is awarded to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the advancement of the organization through service to MOVITE/ITE and achievements in the transportation/traffic engineering profession (2007) 

Completed Research

In-Progress Research