Where Are They Now?

When NCAT opened its doors over 30 years ago, its employees could only hope that their research would spread throughout the United States and around the world. This year at the Test Track Conference, NCAT hosted individuals from all over the U.S. and as far away as South Africa. Attendees included researchers and students, as well as representatives from private industries. The success of NCAT did not only happen through its dedication and research but by implementing a set of core values that allows its impact to reach beyond the vision and mission statement. One of these values lies in how NCAT views its employees as an NCAT family. NCAT provides an environment where all employees feel welcomed into that family and those connections extend long beyond the NCAT experience.

Cynthia Lynn

Cynthia Lynn

Cynthia Lynn became part of the NCAT family in September 1993 as a research assistant and teaching assistant. She received her master’s degree at Auburn University in 1996 but found herself back at NCAT in 2000 working at the Test Track in various capacities from data acquisition and reporting to quality control on the construction of the 2003 research cycle.

While working at NCAT, she opened Thunderhead Testing, a consulting business. In January 2006, her family and company moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Thunderhead Testing later opened its first full-service construction materials testing laboratory facility in November 2010.

In her role as president, Cynthia manages six full-time and several part-time employees. They work primarily in two areas: research of asphalt-related products, and general construction material testing for the highway industry.

Cynthia married Dr. Todd Lynn in 1993, who was also working at NCAT, and they have four daughters. The oldest, Tiana, was born in Auburn while they were in graduate school. Tiana is following in her parents’ footsteps in the asphalt field and is currently studying to be a civil engineer at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee. Their daughter Tommi is a freshman biology major at Lipscomb and the youngest two girls, Tessa and Tylah, are both still in high school. In her free time, Cynthia loves to go camping and travel and takes any opportunity to see new things and visit new places.

When asked what she would say to students who have since become part of the NCAT family, Cynthia remarks, “NCAT laid the foundation for what I do every day. I can’t imagine having a better experience for training and networking than what I found at NCAT. Exposure to cutting-edge technology, equipment, and personnel who were moving our industry forward was and is unmatched. You will be able to look back in 20 years and identify equipment that you had the privilege of helping to develop or test standards that you helped establish. The networking that happens during your day to day activities is something that will follow you throughout your career. I would never have imagined that I would interact with former classmates, professors, and Test Track sponsors in every other job I have had since NCAT. Treasure your time spent there and make the most of every experience and networking opportunity. My husband and I both still feel very much a part of the NCAT family.”

Kristy Harris

Kristy Harris

Kristy Harris joined the NCAT family in 2001 under Dr. Frazier Parker. She was the first graduate student to drive the automatic road analyzer, more commonly known as the ARAN van. Each week she drove it around the track to capture data and practice for her off-site research.

Kristy received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Auburn University, and she met her husband Sandy during graduate school. They live in Wetumpka, Alabama and have two children, Ethan (age 11) and Eli (age 5). With her husband and sons being involved in all kinds of activities, she loves the challenge of capturing that perfect picture that tells the story of their day and all of the challenges that amateur photography entails.

Currently, Kristy works at the Alabama Division of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and has been there for 15 years. As the pavements and materials engineer for the division and the program management analyst, she reviews specifications, paving practices, and testing. Kristy is also the emergency relief coordinator, research engineer and Every Day Counts coordinator for the division.

Her advice to current and future NCAT family members is to have fun, but always realize that life after school doesn’t have instructors directing every step. She encourages them to practice innovating and self-directing at an early age. Kristy’s concluding thoughts sum up her experience at NCAT, “I believe in Auburn [University] and love it! NCAT is a large part of why I moved into the pavements world. I was just finishing my undergraduate degree and starting graduate school when the first track was being built. Having access to that has always been a great asset to my pavement knowledge and career. I got to know the staff, as they were often my fellow graduate students. I still keep in touch with many of them and know that if I have a question, the NCAT family will immediately help answer it.”