Neal Hawkins


Associate Director, InTrans





Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

Co-Director, REACTOR



About Neal

Mr. Hawkins has 30 years of experience in traffic engineering, operations, and safety, and serves a number of research and leadership roles at the Institute for Transportation at Iowa State University (InTrans). He has served as the Director for two centers: CTRE (Center for Transportation Research and Education) and CWIMS (Center for the Weather Impacts on Mobility and Safety), and is an assistant teaching professor. In addition, Mr. Hawkins has a unique role in serving as the Iowa Department of Transportation’s Research Traffic Operations Engineer, which is a committed funding stream for research. He serves as PI and/or Co-PI on a number of safety, operations, speed management, and infrastructure-related projects and recently developed the CTRE Real-Time Analytics of Transportation Data (REACTOR) Laboratory, which is a multi-disciplinary research endeavor. He continues to work at the national level managing an 18-agency pooled fund on Road Weather Information Systems.


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

Professional Experience

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

Selected Research

  • Traffic Operations Research Program Support (PI, Iowa DOT): Led the creation of the Iowa DOT/CTRE Transportation Operations Laboratory, which generates a significant quantity of research each year and includes a high performance cluster of computers (Hadoop) as well as GPU clusters. This team alone includes 21 people (4 P&S, 4 faculty, 2 post-doc, 5 PhD candidates, 5 MS students, and 1 undergraduate student). This includes developing and supporting statewide pavement marking strategies and programs.
  • Connected and Autonomous Vehicle research (PI, Iowa DOT): Multi-task effort that includes deploying/evaluating SPaT technology at 20 intersections; evaluating data communication standards for internal and external to DOT; improving work zone performance and data accuracy in near real-time; establishing an open data service.
  • National Science Foundation – A Smart Service System for Traffic Incident Management Enabled by Large-data Innovations (TIMELI) (Co-PI, National Science Foundation): This project uses emerging, large-scale data analytics techniques to reduce the number of road incidents through proactive traffic control and to minimize the impact that individual incidents might have through early detection, response, traffic management, and control.
  • Evaluation of Intersection Collision Warning Systems (Co-PI, Minnesota DOT): The project evaluated stopping behavior and gap acceptance before and after installation of ICWS in Minnesota.
  • Evaluation of Truck Behavior at Reduced Conflict Intersections (PI, Minnesota DOT): The project evaluated truck behavior at RCI and regular intersections to assess safety impacts due to large truck movements.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Illinois DOT Evaluating All-Weather Pavement Markings & Laboratory Methods to Simulate Field Exposure: Served as PI for a multi-university team documenting the wet performance of different marking materials across Illinois over a six-year study period.

Selected Publications

Professional Affiliations, Honors, and Awards

  • TRB Committee: AHD55 Member, AND40 Friend
  • Institute for Transportation (ITE) Fellow
  • MOVITE Past President
  • Past Chair, ITE Ethics Task Force
  • ITS Heartland, Past Academic Sector Director
  • ATSSA: Member and Past Pavement Marking Committee Member
  • “Distinguished Member Award,” Missouri Valley Section of the Institute of Transportation
  • “Melvin B. Meyer Transportation Professional of the Year,” Missouri Valley Section of the Institute of Transportation

Completed Research

In-Progress Research