Dec. 5, 2022
Interim leader set for Civil and Environmental Engineering
Peter Savolainen has been named interim chairperson of the Michigan State University Department of Civil and Environmental (CEE). His appointment will begin Jan. 1, 2023.
Savolainen is an MSU Foundation Professor and the associate chair for graduate studies in the CEE department. He replaces Neeraj Buch, who will join the Rochester Institute of Technology as dean of undergraduate education and associate provost for student success on Jan. 16.
Engineering Dean Leo Kempel said Savolainen has been a valued member of the faculty since 2018.
“I am pleased Pete will bring his extensive experiences with large research and planning groups to our leadership team,” said Engineering Dean Leo Kempel. “It’s an exciting time for us to add his skills and expertise as we focus on economic development in Michigan and beyond.”
Nationally, Savolainen is an active leader with the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. He is the current vice chair of the ITE Transportation Education Council (TEC) and will become chair of the TEC in January 2023. Savolainen has also participated in LeadershipITE, a program that prepares leaders for greater roles within the transportation industry, and he was named an ITE Fellow in 2020. ITE is an international organization that represents more than 16,000 transportation engineers in the country.
His TRB leadership roles include serving as a member of the Standing Committees on Traffic Safety, Data, and Evaluation (ANB20) and Statistical Methods (ABJ80). He is also an associate editor for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Journal of Transportation Engineering Part A: Systems, in addition to serving on the editorial advisory boards of Accident Analysis and Prevention and Analytic Methods in Accident Research, which are regarded as the top journals in his field.
He currently chairs the departmental awards committee and serves as vice-chair of the strategic planning committee for the College of Engineering. He is also the director of a National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site in Sociomobility, which builds upon his work as chair of a university-wide working group in this same technical area.
During his academic career, he has served as principal investigator (PI) or co-PI on more than $20 million of externally funded research through more than 90 competitive grant awards from agencies including the National Science Foundation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, and Ford Motor Company. His research has advanced traffic safety and road user behavior knowledge, while enhancing accessibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion in transportation systems.
His many awards include the ITE Transportation Safety Council Edmund R. Ricker Individual Award for international leadership in traffic safety and engineering in 2020. Prior to joining MSU, he served on the faculty at Wayne State University and Iowa State University.