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Speakers

Monday, July 22

8:30–10:00 a.m. | Welcome Address, Keynote Speaker, and Awards

Omer Osman, Acting Secretary, Illinois Department of Transportation

Omer Osman HeadshotOmer Osman was appointed transportation secretary by Gov. JB Pritzker in 2019. His role as secretary reflects three decades of experience at the Illinois Department of Transportation in engineering and management. Moving through IDOT’s ranks gives him unique insight into department operations and scope, funding challenges and opportunities, as well as the need for strategic maintenance and infrastructure growth to support economic development and travel for Illinois residents.

Under his leadership, IDOT continues to champion diversity. He remains an advocate for eliminating barriers and increasing access to IDOT partnerships with disadvantaged business enterprises and minority- and female-owned businesses. His vast experience in transportation includes the management and advancement of complex projects and the assessment of current resources to inform funding and programmatic needs to create a multimodal system for the 21st century.

A native of the Sudan, Osman came to the U.S. to study civil engineering at Southern University and A & M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He also earned a master’s in civil engineering with an emphasis in construction management at Bradley University in Peoria.

Jamie L. Rhee, Commissioner, Chicago Department of Aviation

Jamie Rhee HeadshotChicago Department of Aviation (CDA) Commissioner Jamie Rhee manages one of the world’s busiest airport systems, comprised of O’Hare and Midway International Airports, which serves more than 100 million passengers each year and propels Chicago as a global leader for air cargo activity. Chicago’s airports are also among the most connected in the world, serving more than 260 locations via 50 different commercial carriers to 46 countries worldwide.

Rhee has a long history of mastering complex issues in aviation as well as municipal government. Rhee began her career with the City of Chicago, and has worked for nearly 24 years in various roles, most recently as the Chief Procurement Officer. In this role, Rhee oversaw purchasing of $2 billion in goods and services for dozens of user departments of the City of Chicago, including the CDA; and the certification of thousands of minority-owned, women-owned, and disadvantaged business enterprises, including the Airport Concessionaire Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) program. Under Rhee’s leadership, Chicago’s procurement reform efforts have received national and international recognition, and Rhee has been recognized with a dozen awards from industry organizations for her contributions to public service.

Rhee previously served in various roles at the CDA. From 2004-2008, she served as the General Counsel for the O’Hare Modernization Program (OMP), where she handled all legal matters for the multi- billion dollar program, including all federal and state litigation as well as legal strategy with the Chicago Corporation Counsel, Department of Justice and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); oversaw the successful completion of the FAA’s Environmental Impact Statement process and managed the legal process and procurement for all contracts, including commissioning the OMP’s first runway project ahead of schedule and under budget. She also played key roles in previous administrations, having served as a Deputy Chief of Staff to the Mayor; and in various roles at the Departments of Law and Planning and Development. Rhee has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Michigan State University and a Juris Doctorate degree from DePaul University School of Law.​​

Tuesday, July 23

8:30–10:00 a.m. | Carl L. Monismith Award and Lecture on Pavement Engineering; ASCE Grand Challenge Panel

R. Gary Hicks, Ph.D., P.E., ASCE Life Member, Project Manager, CP2 Center and Consultant

R. Gary Hicks, Ph.D., P.E., ASCE Life Member, Project Manager, CP2 Center and ConsultantDr. Gary Hicks is the 2018 winner of the ASCE Geo-Institute’s Carl L. Monismith Award and Lecture on Pavement Engineering for his 50 years of technical and professional contributions in pavement materials, design, and evaluation and the construction and maintenance of transportation facilities. The Monismith Lecture is awarded annually for outstanding research contributions in Pavement Engineering and honors Professor Carl L. Monismith’s contributions to the field.

Dr. Hicks is a part-time Project Manager for the California Pavement Preservation (CP2) Center established at CSU, Chico in 2006 and a private consultant to several companies and organizations. Prior to this, Dr. Hicks was the Technical Director for the CP2 Center, senior principal for MACTEC E&C (now WOOD LLC) in Sacramento, and a Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering at Oregon State University for over 25 years before retiring in 1997. He was an Associate Professor at Georgia Tech in the early 1970s and was a Senior Engineer for Woodward Clyde Consultants in the 1960s.

Dr. Hicks has worked in the area of pavements and pavement preservation for nearly 50 years. He was involved in the development of the 1972, 1986, and the 2002 AASHTO Pavement Design Guides. He participated in the SHRP A-003A contract to develop new and improved tests for asphalt concrete mixes.

He received his BS, MS, and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California at Berkeley where his major professor was Carl Monismith. He has been active with the Transportation Research Board (having served as the head of the pavements section and as a member of the pavement maintenance and preservation committees.), Association of Asphalt Paving Technologists (having served as president and selected as an honorary member), Foundation for Pavement Preservation (served on the Board), the International Society of Asphalt Pavements (Founder member, served on the board, and an honorary member), and ASCE where he was the young member of the year in 1975 for the Georgia Section, a member of the airfield pavement and highway pavement committees, and the Chair of the Highway pavements committee. He is a registered Civil Engineer in the states of California, Oregon, and Alaska and has authored more than 200 publications and one textbook, with Clark Oglesby titled “Highway Engineering” and won numerous awards during his career. He is still active as a consultant to several companies and organizations in the area of pavement design, management, maintenance, and rehabilitation.

Gary Hicks was one of Carl Monismith’s earliest Ph.D students and the first of Professor Monismith’s s students to receive this award.

K. N. Gunalan, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE, D.GE., ASCE Grand Challenge Panel Moderator, ASCE President 2020

K. N. Gunalan, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE, D.GE., ASCE President 2020 - HeadshotK.N. Gunalan (Guna) is Vice President of Alternative Delivery at AECOM, based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Previously, he was a vice president for Parsons Brinckerhoff.

Guna has managed large complex infrastructure projects, providing technical advice on civil, structural, geotechnical, pavement, and materials issues on a variety of projects around the world. His collaborative approach has contributed to many successful programs and projects ranging from a few thousand dollars to more than 3 billion dollars.

Guna has been active in ASCE for many years, including leadership roles as Region 8 director (2009-2012), Region 8 governor (2005-2007), Utah Section president (2002-2003), and Texas Section High Plains Branch president (1992). He served as the chair of ASCE’s 2014 Global Engineering Conference in Panama City, Panama, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal. Most recently, he served as a governor for the Geo-Institute and was a member of the steering committee for the 2017 ASCE India Conference.

Guna has been married for 35 years to Duru. They have a son, Kabilar, and a daughter, Pallavi. He loves to read, travel, and learn about new cultures.

Michel Hovan, Manager of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airport Technology Research & Development Branch

Michel Hovan HeadshotMichel Hovan is the Manager of the FAA’s Airports Technology Research branch located the William J. Hughes FAA Technical Center in NJ. As such, Michel manages a $33 M research portfolio focused on airport safety, airport pavement and airport environmental research. The research is conducted by FAA to update and create airports-related FAA Advisory Circulars that are used by airports nationwide. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in Geo-Engineering, a Master’s degree in geotechnical engineering from the University of Manitoba as well as in engineering from France. Throughout his various positions, Michel has accumulated decades of experience in highway and airports research, as well a front line experience in the field. Between 2006 and 2013, Michel was the manager of FAA’s airport safety and engineering for the FAA’s New England region, and as such, was able to see firsthand the application of research in the field by airports of all sizes. On a side note, Michel is also an advanced martial arts practitioner and instructor.

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