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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue: September 8, 2003
Volume 39, Number 4


Societal need drives ATRI’s Knoebel

By Laurie Mellas Ramirez

Geri Knoebel, Unit Administrator, ATR InstituteA two-page nomination signed by the ATR Institute (ATRI) director as well as a dozen staff and students shine the Spotlight on Unit Administrator Geri Knoebel.

Knoebel is an 11-year employee of the institute, an arm of the School of Engineering. ATRI takes an interdisciplinary approach to transportation research projects and focuses on a guiding principle that transportation systems must meet the needs of society as a whole.

Both Knoebel and the institute are strong proponents of context sensitive design —involving communities in transportation projects that affect quality of life, cultural heritage and transportation options. Knoebel said when undertaking transportation projects it is important to “involve the community in partnership early on before decisions are made. Otherwise, projects not supported by the community will require conflict mediation to resolve.”

Active in her South Valley community, Knoebel took on additional volunteer responsibilities during the recent Isleta Boulevard project as a member of the citizens’ advisory committee. The boulevard is part of El Camino Real, the oldest continuously used highway in the United States. It is also part of the original alignment of Route 66.

Isleta Boulevard had been a two-lane highway without shoulders, bike lanes, sidewalks or lighting. After community input and some contention between those advocating for five-lanes versus three, a compromise hybrid design evolved recognizing safety and traffic needs of the area and a sense of place in the historically and culturally rich valley.

Knoebel provided technical assistance and analysis needed to spearhead the compromise design.

“The South Valley community voiced its needs and I helped facilitate the process through developing ways to look at complex engineering information in a way that the community could understand,” Knoebel said.

This included creating impressive albums of current and historical photographs, concept designs, matrices and maps. A master’s of public administration student, the evolving community road project is Knoebel’s professional paper topic and she hopes someday to publish a book. A not so amateur photographer, her photographs of the Isleta Project are displayed throughout ATRI.

Knoebel heaps praises on her staff and said the support of institute Director Judith Espinosa is invaluable.

“I treat others how I would like to be treated myself. I believe in teamwork and that each person has unique talents,” Knoebel said.

“Geri not only strives for excellence in all her work, she encourages it from all who work with her by setting a wonderful example. Plainly put, she is an inspiring person to know,” nominators said.

Knoebel has been with the ATR Institute almost since its inception. She started at UNM as a temp in 1992. She worked in a variety of management positions in the East, including for the United Way of Central Maryland, as well as natural foods cooperative grocery stores in the Southwest.