Erin J. Flanigan

Erin J. Flanigan

Principal, Transportation Operations and Safety
Applied Research Associates Inc.

BS CE 1987

For her trailblazing spirit as a national expert in the field of management and operations of transportation systems by helping State DOTs shift from being builders of roadway systems to agencies focused on managing and operating the transportation system.

When assessing her professional achievements and the qualities that define her as a good civil engineer, Erin Flanigan hits the rewind button.

“What makes me smile — and makes me reflect on why I am where I am — are the early successes. The early opportunities to shine that paved the way to advancing in my career are the ones I’m most proud of,” Flanigan said.

A case in point is an interchange on I-35 in Kansas City. Her work included interstate and ramp design, drainage calculations and work zone traffic control, signing, and striping plans.

“My excitement was contagious when the interstate was shut down to all traffic for demolition of the old bridge over that section of I-35. Over months of construction, I was able to watch as ‘my’ interchange took form,” Flanigan said. “To this day, I remember that feeling of accomplishment and even now, each time I drive through that interchange I smile.”

That milestone led to many more, including her current position as principal of transportation operations and safety for Applied Research Associates (ARA), where she leads and manages advanced transportation research, analysis, and emerging technology projects.

Flanigan is considered a national expert in transportation systems management and operations (TSMO) that advance emerging technology applications to improve the safety and mobility of the transportation system. She has been in the consulting engineering industry her whole career supporting a wide range of public sector clients.

While vice president of cambridge systematics, she managed a $100 million contract with the Federal Highway Administration that advanced research to improve the safety and mobility of our nation’s transportation network.

Other career highlights include: authoring a report to Congress on the use of fiber optics in interstate highway rights-of-way; working with agencies to develop more effective roadway operations using technology solutions in lieu of additional travel lanes; leading efforts in Austin, Texas to alleviate traffic congestion using commuter behavior choices and employment-based programs; developing pilot projects in Kansas and New York City to prepare for an autonomous vehicle future; and completing a case study on how the New Jersey Department of Transportation managed traffic during Super Bowl XLVIII. In addition, Flanigan has led and supported projects in Michigan, Utah, Tennessee, Maryland, Missouri, Arkansas, Arizona, and Iowa. Her work has helped State DOTs shift from being builders of our roadway system to agencies focused on managing and operating the transportation system.

“I have been blessed to have the opportunity to work for many amazing clients across the nation,” said Flanigan, crediting her alma mater for ingraining in her a strong work ethic and reinforcing Midwest values. “Inevitably when introductions are made and backgrounds are exchanged … I get that look of approval when people hear I am a Purdue grad. Purdue is known around the world for excellence in engineering, and as a graduate, it is a badge of honor.”

For her career achievements, Flanigan received Purdue’s Civil Engineering Alumni Achievement Award in 2017. She currently serves on the school’s advisory council.

Career Highlights

2022-present Principal, Transportation Operations and Safety, Applied Research Associates Inc.
2006-2022 Vice President, Cambridge Systematics, Inc.
2001-2006 Associate Vice President, TransCore 
1998-2001 Manager, ITS Services, TranSystems Corporation


1987 BS Civil Engineering, Purdue University
1994 MSE, Transportation Engineering, University of Texas at Austin