By Sherry DiBari

Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Commissioner and Old Dominion University alum Stephen Brich '92 said during a visit to University on Feb.14 that he sees plenty of potential collaborations between the department and ODU students.

"I think there is a tremendous amount of opportunity here in the Hampton Roads region as a learning laboratory for (students) to get hands-on experience on everything from the geotechnical side, the structural side, as well as traffic operations, safety and data analytics," said Brich, who is from Hampton Roads.

Brich met with President John R. Broderick as well as Ben Stuart, interim dean of Batten College of Engineering and Technology.

Sherif Ishak, professor and chair of the department of civil and environmental engineering, and Mecit Cetin, director of the Transportation Research Institute, presented an overview of their departments and transportation projects.

Three transportation-focused engineering students, Abbie Dean, Joe Fawzy and Dania Dheyab, had one-on-one discussions during lunch with Brich.

Brich, who began his career as an engineering technician in Norfolk, oversees a $6.4 billion annual budget and a team of 7,700 people responsible for Virginia's "58,000 miles of roadway, 21,000 structures and bridges, six tunnels and three ferry systems."

He has 26 years of experience in transportation and previously held several senior roles with VDOT, including senior research scientist, assistant state traffic engineer and director of operations. He was a vice president with Kimley-Horn and Associates prior to his appointment.

He holds a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Old Dominion University and a master's degree in civil engineering from the University of Virginia. He is a licensed professional engineer in Virginia and Maryland.

"The technical foundations I received at Old Dominion prepared me well for where I went," Brich said.

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