- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Samy E.G. Elias, 74, engineering professor

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Samy E.G. Elias, who designed West Virginia University’s rapid-transit system, died Saturday of cancer at his home in Lincoln, Neb. He was 74.

Mr. Elias was associate dean of engineering research at the University of Nebraska.

Mr. Elias was born in Cairo and came to the United States in 1956. He started working at WVU in 1965 as an associate professor of industrial engineering. In 1967, he became a full professor. In 1969, he became chairman of the industrial engineering department.

He left the university in 1982 after supervising the construction of five Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) stations and nearly eight miles of track on the shuttle system that crisscrosses the university’s downtown and Evansdale campuses and parts of Morgantown. The first phase opened in 1975. The system since has carried about 61 million passengers.

The computer-directed, electrically powered system operates like a horizontal elevator. PRT passengers push buttons to indicate their destinations and computers dispatch a car to the site.

Mr. Elias called the system “the most challenging and enjoyable work of my life.” In October, university officials rededicated the PRT Engineering Station in his name.

Mr. Elias was a consultant for transportation systems, including the New York Transit Authority, General Electric Co. and the Cincinnati Transit Co.

A funeral service will be held 10 a.m. Friday at St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church in Fairfax.

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