Scholarship Enables New Engineers Focused on Roadway Safety to attend ATSSA’s Convention & Traffic Expo

Marty Weed, seated, is surrounded by family members shortly before his death in 2018.

AN ICON in the roadway safety industry is paving the way for engineers new to that field.

Marty Weed, a former Washington State Department of Transportation work zone engineer, knew the value of the information he gained and contacts he made at the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) Annual Convention & Traffic Expo.

Before his death due to cancer in 2018, he worked with ATSSA, The American Traffic Safety Services (ATSS) Foundation and his friends and colleagues to establish the Marty Weed Engineering Scholarship. It provides up to $1,500 to cover travel expenses to ATSSA’s Annual Convention & Traffic Expo, which brings together 3,700 roadway safety infrastructure professionals from across the nation and globe.

Weed’s actions inspired The Foundation’s Planned Giving program, which enables donors to designate the nonprofit as a beneficiary in their estate plans. After his death, Weed’s children honored his vision by donating $20,000 to cover ten years’ worth of scholarships.

Marty Lazanich, work zone safety engineer at UDOT, was one of 2 recipients of the Marty Weed Engineeering Scholarship in 2022.

“We will be forever grateful to Marty Weed for endowing this scholarship to assist engineers interested in the field of temporary traffic control and the highway safety industry,” said ATSS Foundation Director Lori Diaz. “His commitment to the industry and the advancement of careers will have a lasting impact not only on the recipients of the scholarships but also on everyone who benefits from their work.”

A longtime ATSSA member, Weed was involved in the roadway safety infrastructure industry for 33 years and received ATSSA’s National Safety Award in 2015. He was committed to developing the next generation of roadway safety professionals and created the scholarship because he understood government agencies have minimal budgets for travel and professional development.

Marty Weed

To qualify, applicants must work for a public agency as an engineer or professional engineer specializing in work zone safety and temporary traffic control, and have a maximum of seven years of work experience as an engineer.

The ATSS Foundation administers the scholarship and its review panel evaluates the applications. Two applicants are chosen each year. One scholarship is provided by The Foundation and the other is matched by ATSSA. The first two scholarships were awarded in 2020. None were awarded in 2021 as the Convention & Traffic Expo was held virtually due to the pandemic.

Matt Lazanich, Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) work zone safety engineer, and Renas Barzanji, Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) work zone/ Americans with Disabilities Act transportation monitor, were this year’s recipients.

Lazanich said his main concern is reducing roadway fatalities in Utah, especially in construction projects. At the Convention he heard what other states are doing and planned to use that information to improve Utah’s work zone safety program.

Renas Barzanji is a work zone/ADA transportation monitor for the TDOT. She was a 2022 recipient of the Marty Weed Engineering Scholoarship.

“The single most impactful thing from the conference was meeting professionals in similar roles as I am that I can reach out to and bounce ideas off, get feedback and have confidence when deploying new technologies and processes,” he said.

Barzanji, who’s been in TDOT’s work zone section for over a year, said one of the issues her section works on is ensuring traffic control in a growing city minimizes congestion in work zones. Her main takeaway from the event was that small changes, such as adding bicycle and pedestrian paths, can create an alternative form of transportation and make roadway conditions safer.

“I would definitely encourage newer engineers to apply for the Marty Weed Engineering Scholarship,” Barzanji said. “The ATSSA Convention gives attendees the chance to be around other engineers that have the same questions and concerns, and to also be able to hear how others have solved issues that you’re currently having.”