The 2010 IRF Road Scholar Program welcomed 17 students from 13 countries. Throughout the course of the 10-day Program, Fellows were introduced to many high-level executives, kept a rigorous schedule, having as many as eight meetings in a single day, and made lasting friendships with IRF and each other.
As part of the 10-day Road Scholar Program, the IRF Fellows visited with IRF members who can help to shape their careers, gained exposure to many of the public and private organizations that are active in the road industry, and heard first hand from top-level executives what it takes to become leaders who will make a difference in the road industry.
A particular highlight for the Fellows was the visit to the US FHWA Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, where the Fellows were able to witness a live crash test and the site visit to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project.
An intense two days of meetings and executive leadership training provides the Fellows with knowledge, skills, insights, and advice on how to create the kind of career they want, how to be successful, and even how to enjoy life as a busy transportation professional.
IREF Chairman Jeff Reed visited with the Fellows to discuss the importance of making connections throughout their careers. He presented each Fellow with the Little Black Book of Connections.
IRF-Washington Chairman, Brian Harris provided insight into his career as he shared his story from owning a bar in Portugal to becoming a vice president of one of the worldâ€™s largest firms.
And Fuad Rihani, Saudi Binladin Group, urged the Fellows to weigh and consider their personal lives and balance that with their professional goals.
Mike Dreznes, vice president, Barrier Systems taught the Executive Leadership Workshop and impressed upon the fellows the tools and traits one must have to be a successful leader.
â€œI will never forget the G.R.O.W. principal Mr. Dreznes taught us,â€ said Shoaib Yosoufzai of Afghanistan. â€œGratitude, responsibility, organization, and work â€“ I will remember this lesson throughout my career.â€
All Work and No Play
While the Fellows did keep a demanding schedule, IRF did provide time in the schedule for some activities that allowed for the Fellows to get to know each other as well as take advantage of some of the tourist offerings of Washington, D.C.
As part of an ice-breaking activity, the Fellows each brought a special hat with them. The hat was supposed to represent them, their school, or their culture somehow. During the course of a dinner, hats were exchanged several times between all the Fellows until ultimately at the end of the evening, each Fellow was leaving with a new hat from a new friend.
The Fellows were also treated to a tour of the Capitol Building as guests of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), a longtime supporter of the IRF Fellowship Program.
Throughout the course of the Program, the Fellows were divided into four teams and competed for the first ever Dreznes Cup. The cup is named after Mike Dreznes for his devotion to the fellowship.
The Dreznes Cup competition consisted of three competitions. First, the bridge building competition. Each team was given twenty dollars and 2 hours to build a four-lane bridge made out of edible materials.
â€œThe bridges were great this year,â€ said Dreznes. â€œI am particularly fond of the bridge that has the movable barrier made out of sugar cubes, but I guess Iâ€™m a little biased.â€
The winning bridge – Team Falcons
The second competition of the Dreznes Cup was a series of games played at Dave & Busterâ€™s. At the end of their grueling schedule, the Fellows were able to relax and enjoy some games and a little friendly competition.
The final competition was the IRFardy, a game created by Mike Dreznes in the style of the popular game show Jeopardy! In this round, each team was asked a series of questions about their fellow Fellows, facts and information they learned from IRF members, and about the IRF itself.
It was a very close competition, but in the end Team Falcons won: Elhan Bani-Hashem, Shoaib Yosoufzai, Carlos Duran Valderama, Byungwoo Gil, and Jose Aguilar-Moya. Each team member was presented a medal.
Jerry Shea Award and Class President
IRF Fellows at graduation receiving their plaques
Every year IRF selects one Fellow to receive the Jerry Shea Leadership Award. The award is named for Gerald (Jerry) P. Shea, an engineer who exemplified quality leadership and who devoted much of his time to the IRF Fellowship Program.
This year, Elham Bani-Hashem, Fellow from Iran attending Arizona State University was selected as the Jerry Shea award winner.
â€œThank you. This is a great honor for me,â€ said Bani-Hashem. â€œI will do my best to live up to the ideals and example of Mr. Shea and the IRF.â€
The Fellows also elected a class president whose main responsibility will be keeping this class in contact with each other and actively involved with IRF.
Taylor Lochrane, Fellow from the United States attending the University of Central Florida was elected as the 2010 class president.
â€œHonestly, I have been a part of many organizations and I can truly say that meeting all the Fellows through this Program was an experience I will never forget,â€ said Taylor Lochrane, IRF Fellow from the University of Central Florida. â€œI was able to learn so much from all the students about their countries and their passion for engineering. I know for certain we will all be lifetime friends.â€
Daniel Albuquerque, Fellow from Brazil, attending the University of Nebraska echoed Lochraneâ€™s remarks.
â€œI want to say thanks to all of you for giving me the opportunity to get to know many great people during these 10 days in DC,â€ said Albuquerque. â€œI truly hope we all can keep in touch and that we may build friendships for a lifetime.â€
IRF 2010 Class President Taylor Lochrane (left) and 2010 Jerry Shea Award recipient Elham Bani-Hashem (right)
Thank You for Your Support
IRF would like to thank the following companies and organizations for participating in the 2010 IRF Road Scholar Program. Without the support and active involvement of each of these organizations, the Road Scholar Program would not be successful.
The International Road Federation is a global not-for-profit organization, headquartered in Washington, DC since 1948 and supported by regional offices throughout the world. The IRF serves a network of public and private sector members in more than 70 countries by providing world-class knowledge resources, advocacy services, and continuing education programs which together offer a global marketplace for best practices and industry solutions.