As of October 1, 2016, the SWUTC concluded its 28 years of operation and is no longer an active center of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. The archived SWUTC website remains available here.

TAMU Undergraduate Transportation Scholars Program Completes 26th and Final Session

2016 PhDCA Group Shot

(L-R) Dr. Lisa Green (Mentor), Christopher Garcia (Student), Mitchell P. Fisher, II (Student), Ms. Melisa Finley (Mentor), and Dr. H. Gene Hawkins (Program Director)

The SWUTC sponsored Undergraduate Transportation Scholars Program (UTSP) at Texas A&M University concluded it’s twenty-sixth successful year in August. This annual summer program, directed by Dr. Gene Hawkins, recruits upper-level undergraduate students from diverse academic backgrounds into a 10-week program designed to provide each student with a research/work experience that will help them get a head start on their careers. The individual students are paired with a mentor while in the program, who assist the student in developing a research proposal, conducting a small transportation engineering research project, presenting findings to peers, and preparing a paper in journal format. While in the program, students make field trips to various transportation agencies and attend professional meetings such as the summer meeting of TexITE. At the end of the term, students make presentations on their research and produce a paper for publication.

On July 29th, the two students sponsored this summer by the UTSP made their final research presentations to a room of transportation professionals at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s State Headquarters and Research Building on the TAMU campus.  Mitchell P. Fisher, II from Auburn University (Ms. Melisa Finley, mentor) presented his research on Generalized Trends in Wrong-Way Driving.  And Christopher Garcia from Brigham Young University (Dr. Lisa Green, mentor) presented his research on Travel Rates of an Aging Population:  A Texas Analysis.

These papers are published in the Compendium of Student Papers and available in the publications section of this website.

Carol A. Lewis Receives 2016 Sharon D. Banks Award

Carol_Lewis_webCarol A. Lewis, Professor in the Department of Transportation Studies, and Director of the Center for Transportation Training and Research at Texas Southern University, and longtime SWUTC Executive Committee member and key researcher, has been selected as the recipient of the Transportation Research Board’s 2016 Sharon D. Banks Award for Humanitarian Leadership in Transportation. She is recognized for her unique blend of transportation accomplishments, successes in the mentoring and nurturing of young people, and tireless promotion of responsible growth and protection of neighborhoods. Lewis’ people-oriented approach to planning is credited with the difference in lives of countless students, fellow researchers and professors, younger professionals, community groups, and transit riders throughout the Houston, Texas area.

The Banks Award, presented on January 13, 2016, during the Chairman’s Luncheon at the TRB 95th Annual Meeting, honors the memory of Sharon D. Banks, who was General Manager of AC Transit, Oakland, California, from 1991 to 1999 and who chaired the TRB Executive Committee in 1998. She died in 1999. The award recognizes individuals whose accomplishments exemplify her ideals of humanity and service by making a significant difference in the lives of those who use, deliver, or support transportation services.

Mike Walton Appointed to Future Interstate Study Committee

Walton_webThe Transportation Research Board—one of seven program units of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine—has initiated the Future Interstate Study and asked Dr. Mike Walton to serve on the study’s committee. Required by the federal FAST Act of 2015, this study will determine the actions needed to upgrade and restore the nation’s Interstate Highway System. This crucial highway network was completed in 1956. While the system is less than 10% longer than it was 60 years ago, the number of drivers using it has tripled and the vehicle miles traveled has quintupled. To guide this 30-month study and author its report, the National Academies appointed a committee of 14 experts with balanced backgrounds and perspectives in transportation policy and planning in both urban and rural contexts, travel demand, highway construction and operations, traffic safety, modeling, environmental and community impact mitigation, economic development, supply chains and goods movement, funding, equity and access to economic opportunity, multimodal transportation, and advanced vehicle technologies. To this mix of public and private sector experts, Dr. Walton brings the expertise in transportation system engineering and intelligent transportation systems for which he is renowned.

2015 SWUTC Robert Herman Award for Most Outstanding Student

Kristie Chin Selected to Receive 2015 Robert Herman Award –

Kristie_Chin_webKristie Chin is a visionary leader in transportation with experience in performance management, strategic planning, and public policy. She is pursuing a M.S./Ph.D. in Transportation Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin as a graduate research assistant to Dr. C. Michael Walton. Her research with the Texas Technology Task Force is focused on developing a Strategic Technology Business Plan (STBP) for the Texas Department of Transportation. Based upon close collaboration with public agencies, industry thought leaders, and research institutions, the STBP identifies key strategies for deploying emerging technologies in an effort to improve safety, mobility, and economic competitiveness. In her thesis, Communicating Value to Stakeholders: A Customer-Oriented KPI System for State DOTs, Ms. Chin develops a framework for aligning state DOT goals with external stakeholder priorities. In addition, Ms. Chin is actively involved in professional development activities. Recently, she represented UT Austin at the 2015 Eno Future Leaders Development Conference. As former president of the Institute of Transportation Engineers student chapter, she served as a leader of the organization by growing a passionate officer team, galvanizing members, and spearheading the inaugural TexITE Student Leadership Summit. Her work experience includes positions at the City of South Bend, David M. Schwarz Architects, DLZ, and Gilbane. Ms. Chin graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Master of Architecture and from Brown University with a Sc.B./A.B. in Civil Engineering and Architectural Studies. Applying her interdisciplinary knowledge, Ms. Chin excels in technical and creative tasks to generate innovative and sustainable solutions.  Because of her demonstrated outstanding academic, leadership and research accomplishments, Ms. Chin was selected to represent the SWUTC as the 2015 Student of the Year.

This award, presented yearly by the SWUTC, comes with a $1,000 cash award.

 

2015 SWUTC Naomi Ledé Outstanding Masters Student Award

Megan Hoklas Selected to Receive 2015 Naomi Ledé Outstanding Masters Student Award –

Megan_Hoklas_webMegan’s passion for transportation engineering began while she was studying abroad in Vienna, Austria. Riding the U-bahn was her first encounter with a rapid transit system; experiencing its efficiency firsthand ignited a fire in her to learn more about transportation systems and people’s travel behavior patterns.

While completing her bachelors at the University of Texas at Austin, Megan participated in the Undergraduate Summer Internship in Transportation program where she assisted a graduate student with their Transportation Research Board paper. This resulted in her being named co-author on An Empirical Investigation into the Time-Use and Activity Patterns of Dual-Earner Couples With and Without Young Children. Thereafter, she became an undergraduate research assistant under Dr. Chandra Bhat working on various Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) projects, which continued into her master’s program at UT Austin.

Megan wrote her master’s thesis on An Integrated Latent Construct Modeling Framework for Predicting Physical Activity Engagement and Health Outcomes, which focused on the connection between public health and human activity-travel patterns. Beyond academics, Megan was an officer in the Institute of Transportation Engineering UT Chapter, a part of the winning 2014 National Grand Championship Traffic Bowl team, and a grader for undergraduate transportation classes at UT.

She graduated in December 2014 with her Masters and is now a traffic engineer-in-training at HDR, Inc in Austin, Texas. It is her ultimate goal to create an efficient transportation system in Texas that will positively impact the community and those riding it, the same way the U-bahn impacted hers.

This award is presented annually by the SWUTC and comes with a $1,000 cash award.

2015 SWUTC William Harris Award for Outstanding PhD Student

Lacy Brown Selected to Receive 2015 William Harris Award –

Lacy_Brown_small_webLacy received her Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Idaho in 2006 and moved to Denver, Colorado to work as a transportation engineer for a small consulting firm. After gaining a few years of practical experience, Lacy decided to return to graduate school and attended Oregon State University, where she received her Master’s degree in 2012. In the fall of 2012, Lacy was awarded the Dwight D. Eisenhower Graduate Transportation Fellowship which allowed her to make the cross-country move and pursue her doctoral degree at Texas A&M University. Lacy’s research has focused on access management and transportation safety, and she has been involved in several national research projects, including the development of the TRB Access Management Manual. As part of her dissertation, Lacy developed a new method for evaluating corridor access management. Her work has been published in multiple journals and she has also presented her research at many local, regional, and national conferences. During her graduate studies, Lacy has been an active member of ITE and is also a young member of the TRB Access Management Committee. Lacy will be receiving her Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M in December. She is currently working as a transportation engineer at DKS Associates in Oregon, where she is also a registered Professional Engineer.

This award is presented annually by the SWUTC and comes with a $1,000 cash award.

Walton Named to the ARTBA Transportation Development Hall of Fame

Walton_ARTBA_Hall_of_FameCongratulations to SWUTC Executive Committee member, Mike Walton, who was named to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Foundation’s “Transportation Development Hall of Fame.” This Hall was established in 2010, and “recognizes individuals or families who have made extraordinary contributions to US transportation development and demonstrated exceptional leadership over their lifetime.” The official induction ceremony was held at the ARTBA Foundation’s 30th Anniversary Luncheon on October 1, during the association’s national convention in Philadelphia. Dr. Walton is the first academic to be inducted into the ARTBA Hall of Fame.

Dr. Walton has been a transformative figure in bridging the gap between research and practice, through his service as a member of several Boards of Directorships of publicly and privately held companies, his research and consulting relationships with more than half of the state departments of transportation in the country, and his professional leadership activities to the Transportation Research Board (TRB), ARTBA, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and the National Academies. His reputation as a leader and a “mover and shaker” in the transportation field has been built upon more than 40 years of service to the profession as a teacher, a researcher, a mentor, and a passionate contributor to his community.

TAMU Undergraduate Transportation Scholars Program Completes 25th Session

2015 Participants and Mentors

2015 Transportation Scholars Program Participants (L-R) Dr. David Bierling (Mentor), Michelle Anderson (Participant), Katherine Foreman (Participant), and Dr. Brad Brimley (Mentor)

The SWUTC sponsored Undergraduate Transportation Scholars Program (UTSP) at Texas A&M University concluded it’s twenty-fifth successful year in August. This annual summer program, directed by Dr. Gene Hawkins, recruits upper-level undergraduate students from diverse academic backgrounds into a 10-week program designed to provide each student with a research/work experience that will help them get a head start on their careers. The individual students are paired with a mentor while in the program, who assist the student in developing a research proposal, conducting a small transportation engineering research project, presenting findings to peers, and preparing a paper in journal format. While in the program, students make field trips to various transportation agencies and attend professional meetings such as the summer meeting of TexITE. At the end of the term, students make presentations on their research and produce a paper for publication.

On July 31st, the two students sponsored this summer by the UTSP made their final research presentations to a room of transportation professionals at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s State Headquarters and Research Building on the TAMU campus.  Katherine Foreman from University of Louisiana at Lafayette (Dr. Brad Brimley, mentor) presented her research on Behavioral Differences between Familiar and Unfamiliar Drivers.  And Michelle Anderson from the University of Alabama Huntsville (Dr. David Bierling, mentor) presented her research on Traffic Safety Issues and Commercial Motor Vehicle Crashes:  A Case Study in the Eagle Ford Shale.

These papers will be published in the Compendium of Student Papers and made available in the publications section of this website.

Spiegelman Elected 2014 AAAS Fellow

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Dr. Cliff Spiegelman, 2014 AAAS Fellow

Dr. Clifford H. Spiegelman, distinguished professor of statistics at Texas A&M University, and key SWUTC researcher has been recognized as a 2014 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Spiegelman is one of two Texas A&M professors who are among the 401 AAAS members honored by their peers with the prestigious distinction this year for scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

This year’s AAAS Fellows will be formally announced in the “AAAS News & Notes” section of the Nov. 28 edition of the journal Science. In addition, each will be presented with an official certificate and gold and blue (representing science and engineering, respectively) rosette pins in a Saturday, February 14 ceremony at the AAAS Fellows Forum during the 2015 AAAS Annual Meeting in San Jose, Calif.

Spiegelman is an expert in statistical and environmental forensics as well as a founder within statistics of the field of chemometrics, the science of using data to extract information from chemical systems. He also is a senior research scientist with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, the state’s transportation research agency. He joined the Texas A&M Department of Statistics in 1987 as an associate professor, earning promotion to full professor in 1990 and to distinguished professor in 2009.

Specifically, Spiegelman is cited by AAAS “for leadership in addressing complex, real-world problems, especially in chemometrics, transportation, forensics and social program evaluation through the development, application and communication of innovative statistical methodology.”

“Cliff Spiegelman has been an outstanding statistician at Texas A&M for 27 years, and during that time he has devoted much of his time to real-world problems ranging from transportation to forensics, with many other stops along the way,” said Dr. H. Joseph Newton, Dean of the College of Science. “He is known as one of the founders of chemometrics; the application of statistics to chemistry. We are indeed fortunate to have on our faculty a researcher and teacher like Cliff who has made such a broad impact in several important areas.”

Spiegelman is a fellow of both the American Statistical Association (ASA) and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS) as well as an elected member of the International Statistical Institute (ISI). He is a two-time recipient of the ASA Statistics in Chemistry Award for best paper and also has received the 2007 Jerome Sacks Award for Outstanding Cross-Disciplinary Research.

Spiegelman was instrumental in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) decision to stop using compositional bullet lead analysis after he demonstrated it to be flawed. Related research prompted revisiting the possibility of a second shooter in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The subsequent article on that topic that appeared in the Annals of Applied Statistics led to his second career ASA Statistics in Chemistry Award. He routinely co-authors forensic columns for the Austin American-Statesman and also testifies in criminal matters on other aspects of statistics, flawed forensic science, probability and the law — often in association with the Innocence Project, the national nonprofit legal clinic dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing and other post-verdict methods.

The tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874. Currently, members can be considered for the rank of fellow if nominated by the steering groups of the Association’s 24 sections, or by any three fellows who are current AAAS members — so long as two of the three sponsors are not affiliated with the nominee’s institution — or by the AAAS chief executive officer.

To learn more about the American Association for the Advancement of Science, visit www.aaas.org.

2014 SWUTC Robert Herman Award for Most Outstanding Student

Brad Brimley Selected to Receive 2014 Robert Herman Award –

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Brad Brimley

Brad has been affiliated with the Southwest Region University Transportation Center since 2010 when he was selected to participate in the summer Undergraduate Transportation Scholar’s Program at Texas A&M University. A program designed to attract top students from across the country to research and education opportunities in transportation engineering at TAMU. Brad, who received his BS and Masters from Brigham Young University, chose TAMU to pursue his PhD studies. During his time at TAMU, and as a member of the SWUTC Transportation Scholars Program, Brad has shown that he is an outstanding student and a thoughtful and insightful researcher with extraordinary skills. He has taken the leadership role in conducting research for the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, developing rigorous research methods and pertinent results while authoring and presenting numerous papers related to traffic operations, human factors and transportation economics topics. Brad has also won many awards such as receiving an Eisenhower Graduate Fellowship, scholarships from the Houston Section of ITE, national ITE and ITS Texas, and selected to participate in the 2013 ENO Leadership Development Conference. Brad’s dissertation is titled Visual Attention and Driver Performance on Horizontal Curves. Brad has strong interest in becoming a transportation professor where he hopes his activities as a faculty member will influence both students and practitioners alike.  He is currently a post-doc Associate Transportation Researcher in the Traffic Operations Division at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. Because of his demonstrated outstanding academic, leadership and research accomplishments, Brad was selected to represent the SWUTC as the 2014 Student of the Year.

This award, presented yearly by the SWUTC, comes with a $1,000 cash award.

2014 SWUTC Naomi Ledé Outstanding Masters Student Award

Lucien Bruno Selected to Receive 2014 Naomi Ledé Outstanding Masters Student Award –

Lucien Bruno2

Lucien Bruno

With a bachelor from Tulane University, Lucien pursued on his Masters at the University of New Orleans in Urban and Regional Planning. While at UNO, Lucien participated in the SWUTC research program assisting with issues related to transportation and land use policy. During the summer of 2013, Lucien served as an intern in Indore, India with EMBARQ India working on the implementation of the city’s first bus rapid transit project. This position resulted in the publication of “Indore iBus BRT Corridor Safety Audit” and “The iBus Story: Implementing Bus Rapid Transit in Indore.” Both publications were written for EMBARQ India to implement policies towards the adoption of this new high-profile transit system in India. Lucien has an impressive multicultural background for being a US native citizen. He has lived and studied abroad and is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. While at UNO, Lucien maintained a 4.0 GPA and is an Eisenhower Transportation Fellow. Lucien wrote his master’s thesis on Contested Road Space: Public Narrative and Bus Rapid Transit in Indore, India. He graduated in May 2014 with his Masters and is now a full time transportation planner with a leading consulting firm based in Seattle Washington.

This award is presented annually by the SWUTC and comes with a $1,000 cash award.

2014 SWUTC William Harris Award for Outstanding PhD Student

Meredith Cebelak Selected to Receive 2014 William Harris Award –

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Meredith Cebelak

After receiving her BS in Civil Engineering at the University of Florida in 2001, Meredith worked for 10 years in the private sector on issues related to intelligent transportation systems and traffic engineering.  She decided to continue her education at the University of Texas at Austin obtaining her Masters in 2013 and is now pursuing her PhD with an anticipate graduation in 2015. During this time, Meredith has been supported by the SWUTC with scholarships through UT-Austin Advanced Institute. Her Master’s Thesis employed data from FourSquare and other smartphone check-in applications to help understand travel frequency behavior. This innovative work was recently recognized at the ENO Conference in Washington DC. She has also been nationally recognized as a Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation fellow as well as an ENO fellow. She has presented work in the location based social networking travel demand modeling arena at multiple Transportation Research Board conferences as well as at the ITS Europe 2014 conference. While pursuing her academic studies, she has been engaged in several highly visible and demanding research studies supported by TxDOT. She also currently serves as President of the UT student chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers. For these accomplishments coupled with her excellent communication skills and her intellectual ability to develop insights in complex issues, Meredith was selected to receive the outstanding SWUTC PhD student award.

This award is presented annually by the SWUTC and comes with a $1,000 cash award.

Chandra Bhat Receives 2015 Hind Rattan Award

Dr. Chandra Bhat speaking.

Dr. Chandra Bhat speaking.

CTR Director, and SWUTC Executive Committee Member and researcher, Chandra Bhat from the University of Texas was selected to receive the prestigious 2015 Hind Rattan, an award given by Government of India in conjunction with a non-profit welfare society for PIOs (People of Indian Origin) residing outside India. The Hind Rattan (a Hindi phrase, which translates to English as “Jewel of India”) is one of the highest Indian diasporic awards granted annually to individuals of Indian origin. About 25–30 recipients worldwide are selected for the honor each year from the over 25 million individuals of Indian descent residing outside India. Bhat received the award in New Delhi on the eve of the 66th Republic Day of India on January 26, 2015, amidst high-level members of the Indian government and the Indian Supreme Court, international ambassadors, and scientists and scholars from India. The award recognizes Bhat’s “outstanding services and scholarly achievements in the transportation and econometrics fields.”

 

Steve Boyles Receives CUTC New Faculty Award

Dr. Boyles accepting his award

Dr. Boyles accepting his award.

Assistant Professor and SWUTC Researcher Stephen Boyles from the University of Texas was selected for the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC-ARTBA) New Faculty Award.  This award honors tenure-track educators who have made outstanding teaching and research contributions in the transportation field.  Dr. Boyles formally received the award at the CUTC Annual Awards Banquet on January 10, 2015, in Washington, D.C.

 

Mike Walton Inducted into Texas Transportation Hall of Honor

On December 1, 2014, CTR was honored as Dr. C. Michael Walton was inducted into the Texas Transportation Hall of Honor. The ceremony took place at the AT&T Conference Center with many key figures in the Texas transportation field in attendance.

The Hall of Honor, established in January 2000, provides the opportunity for transportation professionals to recognize the state’s pioneering transportation leaders. Dr. Walton joins as the 40th member of this Hall of Honor.

The induction ceremony followed the 2014 CTR Texas Distinguished Lecture Series in Transportation. After a welcome from CTR Director Chandra Bhat, the Hall of Honor Board Chair Dennis Christiansen provided an overview of the Hall of Honor’s history and role in Texas transportation. Then some of Dr. Walton’s colleagues and collaborators remarked on his distinguished career. These speakers included Bob Skinner (Executive Director, Transportation Research Board), John Barton (Deputy Executive Director, Texas Department of Transportation), Linda Watson (President & CEO, Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority), Nicholas Rubio (US President, Cintra), Sharon Wood (Dean, Cockrell School of Engineering), and Valerie Briggs (Director, National Highway Institute).

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Dr. Walton’s plaque will be permanently displayed at the Hall of Honor, located in College Station. Presenters pictured (left to right): Rubio, Bhat, Watson, Walton, Barton, Christiansen, Skinner.

Kockelman Honored by Google Research

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Kara Kockelman

University of Texas at Austin Professor, and SWUTC key researcher, Kara Kockelman is the recipient of a Google Research Award in the category of Robotics for her work on Anticipating & Mitigating the Latent Demand Effects of Self-Driving Vehicles: A Role for Data-Driven Modeling & Credit-Based Congestion Pricing.  This work built on her previous SWUTC project Anticipating Long-Term Energy and GHG Emissions Impacts of Autonomous Vehicles.   Google Research Awards are one-year awards structured as unrestricted gifts to universities to support the work of world-class full-time faculty members at top universities around the world. Several teams of Google engineers and researchers were involved in selecting Dr. Kockelman’s proposal.  Civil, Architecture and Environmental Engineering Department Chair Rich Corsi noted that “It’s great to see members of our CAEE community receiving recognition from major corporations like Google.”

TAMU Undergraduate Scholars Program Completes 24th Successful Year

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2014 Transportation Scholars Program Participants. (L-R) David Florence, Kaitlynn Simmons, Gene Hawkins (Program Director), Nicole Kelly and Sam Jordan

The SWUTC sponsored Undergraduate Transportation Scholars Program (UTSP) at Texas A&M University concluded it’s twenty-fourth successful year in August. This annual summer program, directed by Dr. Gene Hawkins, recruits upper-level undergraduate students from diverse academic backgrounds into a 10-week program designed to provide each student with a research/work experience that will help them get a head start on their careers. The individual students are paired with a mentor while in the program, who assist the student in developing a research proposal, conducting a small transportation engineering research project, presenting findings to peers, and preparing a paper in journal format. While in the program, students make field trips to various transportation agencies and attend professional meetings such as the summer meeting of TexITE. At the end of the term, students make presentations on their research and produce a paper for publication.

On August 4th, the four students sponsored this summer by the UTSP made their final research presentations to a room of transportation professionals at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s State Headquarters and Research Building on the TAMU campus.  Kaitlynn Simmons from Texas A&M University (Mr. Brad Brimley and Dr. Paul Carlson, mentors) presented her research on Benefit-Cost Analysis of Horizontal Curve Treatments.  David Florence from Texas A&M University (Ms. Lisa Larsen and Dr. Mark Burris, mentors) presented his research on Using Psychology to Understand Managed Lane Usage.  Nichole Kelly from Texas A&M University (Dr. David Bierling, mentor) presented her research Rapid Rehabilitation of Energy Impacts Roads.  And Sam Jordon from Memphis State University (Dr. Maryam Sakhaei Far, mentor) presented his research Rutting Resistance in Asphalt Binder.

These papers will be published in the Compendium of Student Papers and made available in the publications section of this website.

Zhanmin Zhang Selected to Serve as Council Chair

Zhanmin Zhang

Zhanmin Zhang

University of Texas at Austin Associate Professor, and SWUTC Executive Committee member, Zhanmin Zhang has recently been selected to serve as Council Chair of the Mode Spanning Council by the Transportation and Development Institute’s (T&DI) Board of Governors.  T&DI is one of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) eight specialty institutes.  His term begins immediately.

Zhang has worked extensively with T&DI. He was elected to serve as Vice Chair of the Infrastructure Systems Committee from March 2009 to October 2012. Then he was appointed to serve as Chair of the Infrastructure Systems Committee in October 2012.

As Council Chair of the Mode Spanning Council, Zhang will be overseeing four T&DI technical committees for ASCE: Advanced Technologies Committee; Infrastructure Systems Committee; Intermodal & Logistics Committee; and Transportation Safety Committee.

 

John Renne to Chair Transportation Committee of National Board

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Dr. John Renne

University of New Orleans faculty member and SWUTC Executive Committee member and key researcher, John Renne has been named a committee chair of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies. Renne, associate professor of planning and urban studies and director of the Merritt C. Becker UNO Transportation Institute, will chair the Transportation and Land Development Committee for a 3-year term.

“This committee is a leading forum of experts that sets a national agenda on the topic of transportation and land use planning,” Renne said. “Given the economic recovery and a renewed interest in cities, transit and sustainable development, I am very excited to be taking over this committee at such a critical time in our nation’s history.”

Renne’s research focuses on sustainable transport, real estate, land use and transportation planning with a focus on transit-oriented development, travel behavior and emergency transportation planning for vulnerable populations. He has co-edited two books, “Transport Beyond Oil: Policy Choices for a Multimodal Future” and “Transit Oriented Development: Making It Happen.”

Renne also serves as the chair of the New Orleans Sustainable Transportation Advisory Committee to the City Council and he served on the founding board of Bike Easy, New Orleans’ nonprofit bicycle advocacy organization.

The mission of the Transportation Research Board is to promote innovation and progress in transportation through research. It is one of six major divisions of the National Research Council, a private nonprofit institution that is the principal operating agency of the National Academies in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities.

Li Accepts Leadership Role in Landscape Architecture Association

Ming-Han Li

Dr. Ming-Han Li

Ming-Han Li, SWUTC researcher and associate professor in Texas A&M’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, has been elected vice president of the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA), an international association which advances education, research and outreach.

Li was named first vice president/president-elect at CELA’s national conference in Baltimore, Md., March 26-29. He will serve one-year terms as first vice president, president and past president over the next three years. Li has served in leadership positions for the council since 2007.  He also received CELA’s Outstanding Communications Award, which recognizes landscape architecture educators who have coordinated abstract and paper reviews for CELA’s annual conferences since 2008.

Li, who joined the Texas A&M faculty in 2003, is interested in stormwater management, bioretention, soil erosion control, streambank bioengineering and sustainable landscape technology.

Alumni Profile: Alison Conway

Alison Conway

Alison Conway

Name: Alison Conway

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

Currently Residing: New York, NY

Current job: Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at the City College of New York and Associate Director for New Initiatives at the Region 2 University Transportation Research Center (UTRC).

Affiliation with SWUTC:  SWUTC Advanced Institute scholarship recipient and researcher on SWUTC research efforts.

Supervisor at UT:  Dr. C. Michael Walton

Graduated from UT: 2009

Hobbies outside of work: Traveling, bicycling, random recreational sports, photography, recently started to learn to play the Irish fiddle (poorly).

 


What is it like to teach transportation engineering at the college level?

At CCNY, I teach undergraduate and graduate level courses in transportation planning and transportation systems engineering. I especially like teaching the introductory courses because often undergraduate students have no idea what “transportation engineers” do; I am usually the first professor to try to convince them to concentrate in the field. The best thing about being a professor is having the opportunity to work with great students and seeing them move on to future success. I was very fortunate to have undergraduate professors who allowed me to get involved in research, so I am very happy when I have the opportunity to involve interested students in my projects. One of my first undergraduate research assistants, Diniece Peters, just finished her Master’s at UT. The other things that I like best about the research aspects of my job are having the opportunity to work on unique projects and being able to interact with and collaborate with others from around the country and around the world examining the same problems in very different contexts.


What is one of the most interesting areas of discussion in your specific field of expertise today?

One emerging area I have been excited to study lately has been how to address new challenges for goods movement in bicycle-friendly cities. In recent years, transportation planning and urban design have become very focused on encouraging bicycle and pedestrian travel in urban areas (including New York) through installation of bicycle and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, implementation of bicycle friendly policies, and introduction of bike-share programs. These efforts have generally been successful in their intended purpose – shifting commuters to bikes; however, they have also inadvertently created many new challenges for the trucks needed to support the cities’ economies and livelihoods. When roads are designed with a primary focus on bicyclists, the resulting infrastructure is often unfriendly to trucks, with reduced curb access, difficult-to-maneuver turns, and increased potential for accidents with non-motorized travelers. The most interesting thing about this area of conflict is that the more successful communities are in becoming dense and non-motorized travel dependent, the more dependent they will also become on fast and reliable goods movement to nearby businesses and directly to residences (for example, delivery of groceries purchased online). As a freight researcher who also likes to bike, I’d like to contribute to identifying solutions that will allow these modes to coexist harmoniously. Fortunately, I have convinced some fellow SWUTC UT-Advanced Institute alums – Nick Lownes (University of Connecticut) and Jeff Lamondia (Auburn University) – to work with me in this area.


What did you get out of your time at the University of Texas at Austin and the Center for Transportation Research (CTR)? How did your time here prepare you for your career?

While working on my degrees, I had to the opportunity to work on a number of complex projects with a really diverse group of experts and other students. I worked on proposals and projects with my advisor, as well as with CTR researchers with expertise in economics, policy, and law, and I was able to learn a tremendous amount from them. I was also given the opportunity to generate some of my own proposals, which was invaluable experience when I had to so do as a faculty member. I also learned from Dr. Walton’s advice and example the importance of interacting with and getting involved in the professional community; this guidance has been critical in allowing me to build a professional network of mentors and colleagues.


What projects did you work on while you were at UT-Austin?

I spent six years at UT for my master’s and Ph.D. so I had the opportunity to work on a lot of interesting projects – mostly related to freight policy and ITS applications – with my advisor Dr. Mike Walton, and with great support from Vicki Simpson. My master’s thesis and the first two projects that I worked on focused on ITS applications for commercial vehicle size and weight enforcement and security. My dissertation research focused on road pricing for commercial vehicles. I also was able to work on some large team projects at CTR, including a study looking at the potential for heavier and longer-combination vehicles in Texas. On that project I had the opportunity to work with many researchers at CTR, including Rob Harrison and Jolanda Prozzi.


How did you become interested in transportation engineering?

It is hard to define exactly when I decided to become an engineer, but my mom would probably tell you it was in kindergarten when I managed to get both myself and my parents in trouble by going to blocks every day instead of rotating through all of the play stations. My family includes lots of mathematicians and scientists – my mom is a math professor, my dad is a dentist and former chemistry teacher, and my grandfather was a chemical engineer. In high school, I liked math, science, and art so I became interested in architecture and structural engineering. Like most civil engineers, I started college thinking I wanted to build bridges and buildings, but I changed my concentration to transportation after I was assigned a project focused on Intelligent Transportation Systems during my undergraduate technical writing class at the University of Delaware.


What advice do you have for students considering a career in transportation engineering?

Transportation engineering is a great field because there is almost never an easy answer to a transportation problem. Transportation engineers do use use math and physics and develop new technologies and materials to “solve” problems, but we also have to consider the diverse needs and uncertainties of different users and stakeholders as well as often conflicting and rapidly changing social, economic, and environmental goals. Transportation engineering is not a field for those who like simple answers, but rather for those looking to be constantly challenged to find new solutions to complex problems.

Rajesh Paleti Wins 2013 Milton Pikarsky Award

Rajesh Paleti

Rajesh Paleti

Rajesh Paleti, SWUTC doctoral graduate researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, was awarded the 2013 Milton Pikarsky Award for Outstanding PhD Dissertation in Science and Technology at the CUTC Annual Awards Banquet in January 2014.  Rajesh’s award winning dissertation “On Integrating Household Vehicle Ownership, Composition, and Evolution with Activity-Based Travel Models” looks at household vehicle ownership, and created a model to determine how vehicle fleets evolve over time.

SWUTC Graduate Researcher Wins 2013 C.V. Wootan Award

Christina Bernardo

Christina Bernardo

Christina Bernardo, SWUTC graduate researcher at the University of Texas at Austin under the supervision of Dr. Chandra Bhat, received the C.V. Wootan Award for Best MS Thesis in Planning and Policy at the CUTC Awards Banquet in January 2014.  Christina’s award-winning thesis “An Empirical Investigation into the Time-Use and Activity Patterns of Dual-Earner Couples With and Without Young Children” examined how work policies in the United States impact the daily routines of dual-earner families.

Kara Kockelman Receives ASCE James Laurie Prize

Dr. Kara Kockelman

Dr. Kara Kockelman

SWUTC researcher and transportation engineering professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Kara Kockelman was selected as the recipient of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) James Laurie Prize in Transportation Engineering.

She is recognized for “innovative data acquisition and analysis efforts, outstanding contributions to the study of highway safety and crash occurrence, travel behavior, vehicle and driver characteristics, road pricing, spatial statistics, and energy and climate issues, providing guidance for transportation planners and policymakers.”

Kockelman will receive the award during the 2nd T&DI Congress in Orlando, Florida in June 2014.

SWUTC Researcher Wins CUTC New Faculty Award

Dr. Amit Bhasin

Dr. Amit Bhasin

Dr. Amit Bhasin, SWUTC researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, has been awarded the New Faculty Award from CUTC during their January 2014 meeting in Washington D.C. This award recognizes significant achievements of young faculty members.

“We are so fortunate to have Amit. He’s a research leader in his field, and an incredible mentor for our students. His research is absolutely cutting-edge, and he truly deserves this credit. It’s another great example of our faculty and researchers being at the forefront of intellectual innovation” stated fellow faculty member, Dr. Chandra Bhat.

SWUTC Researchers Win TRB Award

Chandra Bhat

Dr. Chandra Bhat

SWUTC researchers part of team to be awarded the 2013 TRB Pike Johnson Award.  This award, given annually, is for an outstanding paper published in the field of transportation systems planning and administration. The winning paper, “Modeling of Household Vehicle Type Choice Accommodating Spatial Dependence Effects” was co-authored by Rajesh Paleti (SWUTC doctoral student researcher), Chandra R. Bhat (SWUTC key senior researcher), Ram Pendyala and Konstadinos Goulias from the University of Texas at Austin.

 

 

2013 SWUTC William Harris Award for Outstanding PhD Student

Justin M. Ericson Selected to Receive 2013 William Harris Award –

Justin Ericson

Justin Ericson

Justin is a doctoral student working in the Beck Visual Cognition Laboratory at Louisiana State University. Justin’s research interests are based in the areas of visual perception and attention. Specifically, his research has focused on studying how individuals can accurately identify, store, and track moving stimuli. Justin’s research with the UTC investigates how drivers detect information while performing a cognitively demanding car counting/lane changing task similar to moderate to heavy traffic conditions and identifies how participants may – or may not – react to the sudden onset of critical targets within the driver’s path. His research project has found that reactions are impaired for detecting unexpected objects that enter the roadway when increasing the number of target vehicles to track. Justin has been published in several peer-reviewed journals over the course of his career, and has served as an outstanding contributor to the center. Justin has fulfilled all of his graduate course requirements, demonstrating academic success in the classroom and was selected to instruct an undergraduate course this year. He has represented the center by giving demonstrations to guests and faculty in the driving lab at LSU while also traveling to various conferences to present his research findings.

Justin was selected to represent the SWUTC at the annual UTC Outstanding Student of the Year awards ceremony during TRB’s Annual Meeting in January, 2014.

This award is presented annually by the SWUTC and comes with a $1,000 cash award.

2013 SWUTC Robert Herman Award for Most Outstanding Student

Kai Yin Selected to Receive 2013 Robert Herman Award –

Kai Yin

Kai Yin

Kai Yin is a recent Ph.D. graduate from the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University – College Station. Coming from a background in information and computation sciences, he joined the transportation engineering program in fall 2008, and first obtained his MS degree in 2010. His MS thesis was on modeling information propagation through inter-vehicle communication, and won him the 2010 CUTC Pikarsky Memorial Award for an Outstanding MS Thesis. Kai conducted his Ph.D. thesis on modeling intersection signal control. Kai has also won a number of other competitive awards both at national and regional levels. For example, Kai was one of ten recipients of the TRB ACRP award sponsored by FAA given annually to graduate studies that address significant aviation issues. Kai is highly motivated for transportation research. He published eight journal papers including three in Transportation Research Part C plus a few under review or revision while being a student at Texas A&M University. His research was partially sponsored by Southwest Region University Transportation Center (SWUTC) through several projects, notably a special fund from SWUTC that allowed him to carry his TRB ACRP award project to its completion.

Kai Yin was advised by Dr. Bruce Wang.

This award, presented yearly by the SWUTC, comes with a $1,000 cash award.

2013 SWUTC Naomi Ledé Outstanding Masters Student Award

Christina Bernardo Selected to Receive 2013 Naomi Ledé Outstanding Masters Student Award –

Chrissy Bernardo

Christina Bernardo

Christina Bernardo joined the MS program at UT Austin in Fall 2011, after completing her BS degree at Northwestern University (NU). The recommendation letters from her professors at NU that accompanied her application for graduate study at UT were nothing short of glowing. Chrissy lived up to the expectations we had of her when she joined our program. She brought a very high degree of motivation and dedication to her academic pursuits, and combined this with a spirit of camaraderie toward her fellow students. The result is a graduate student who exhibited extraordinary academic/research and teamwork skills. In her MS research, Chrissy examined the time-use pattern (and resulting activity-travel implications) of adults in dual-earner households with and without children. A paper based on this work was presented at the 2013 TRB annual meeting and is under review for publication in Transportation Research Part B’s special issue on Time Use Analysis. She also has a book chapter on non-motorized travel in the forthcoming Handbook of Sustainable Travel. Chrissy also contributed to the community and assumed a leadership role during her graduate studies at UT. She served as the Vice President of the UT student chapter of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS).

After completing her master’s at UT, Christina has begun her career in transportation planning and demand modeling at Parsons Brinckerhoff in New York. She is currently working on a major update to the activity-based travel demand modeling system for the New York City region.

This award is presented annually by the SWUTC and comes with a $1,000 cash award.

Godazi Elected as National Technical Association Officer

khosr 2013 reduced

Mr. Khosro Godazi

Khosro Godazi, SWUTC Associate Director for Transportation Research at Texas Southern University was elected as Southwest Region Director for the National Technical Association (NTA) on September 20, 2013.

As the nation’s oldest (since 1925) technical association of minority scientists and engineers, NTA remains pledged to insure that science and technology serve the needs of the minority community.  Through this appointment, Mr. Godazi will coordinate NTA activities in the southwest region.  Including, supporting the annually hosted Technical Symposium which allows minorities who are our future scientists, engineers, doctors, technicians, machinists, information systems and programmers the opportunity to enrich their science awareness.

SWUTC’s Lisa Larsen Receives ARTBA Award

Lisa Larsen

Lisa Larsen

SWUTC Graduate Assistant Researcher Lisa Larsen received the Future Industry Spotlight Award during the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) National Convention held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Sept. 8-10. Larsen works in TTI’s Transportation Planning group.

The Future Industry Spotlight Award recognizes a student who achieved “an outstanding academic record and demonstrated extraordinary leadership skills within and outside of the academic environment.” The award was part of ARTBA’s Women Leaders in Transportation Design and Construction Awards.

Larsen, who is pursuing her doctorate in transportation engineering, is no stranger to accolades. Among her honors, Larsen has received the 2012 Eisenhower Fellowship, the 2012 Houston Chapter Women’s Transportation Seminar Overly Graduate Scholarship, and the 2011 University Transportation Center for Mobility Student of the Year Award. She was also a recipient of the Keese-Wootan Fellowship Award and served as the president of the Texas A&M University Institute of Transportation Engineers Student Chapter in 2012.

“It was my first time at an ARTBA convention, so I really enjoyed the opportunity to interact with other transportation professionals,” Larsen says of her trip to Milwaukee. “I was honored to receive the Future Industry Spotlight Award.”

Larsen’s career goal is to become a university professor.

Tooley Named ARTBA Vice Chairman at Large

Melissa Tooley

Dr. Melissa Tooley

Melissa Tooley, SWUTC Director at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), has been elected vice chairman at large for the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA). Results of the nominating process were announced during ARTBA’s National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, September 8-12. Tooley’s election represents the first time a TTI employee has been elected to ARTBA’s executive committee.

“This is a significant position in a very powerful national organization,” says TTI Agency Director Dennis Christiansen of Tooley’s election.

Established in 1902, ARTBA is the nation’s oldest and largest transportation association “whose primary goal is to aggressively grow and protect transportation infrastructure investment to meet the public and business demand for safe and efficient travel.”

Based in Washington, D.C., ARTBA consists of 5,000 public- and private-sector members and is actively involved in all transportation-related issues. The executive committee consists of 15 transportation professionals from around the country, each of whom serves a one-year term. Six of the individuals, including Tooley, were elected to at-large positions and will help determine ARTBA’s stance on issues impacting the association.

“This is a huge honor and responsibility,” Tooley notes. “ARTBA is known worldwide for its visionary leadership and I look forward to the coming year.”

TxDOT – SWUTC Collaborate on New Educational Opportunity for Summer 2013

TxDOT Undergraduate Summer Internship

This pilot TxDOT program, coordinated by the SWUTC, was a paid 10-week program for undergraduate engineering or planning students with an interest in transportation research. After a competitive selection process, two students were chosen to participate in this year’s program. Gabriel Landaverde and Hunter Smith, are both Texas A&M University students with an interest in transportation. They are studying construction management and urban planning, respectively.

2013 TxDOT Summer Interns-2

TxDOT Interns with TTI Research Supervisors. L-R Boya Dai, Gabriel Landaverde, Hunter Smith and Joan Hudson.

While participating in the program, the students divided their time between the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s Austin office where they were paired up with senior researchers and participated in sponsored research efforts, and the TxDOT Headquarters Office in Austin where they gained a behind-the-scene look into the operations of a major state agency.

At TTI, the students helped create a bicycle crash database with Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash Analysis Tool (PBCAT) and Google Earth.  The database contains details associated with crashes between motor vehicles and bicycles.  The development and analysis of this database will help improve bicycling safety.  They also assisted TTI researchers with updating the shoulder width data from the 2010 Road-Highway Inventory Network (RHiNO) file.  This work is part of the Austin Bicycle Master Plan.  The data will be used for prioritizing bike lane projects along the on-system roadways in the Austin region.

2013 TxDOT Summer Interns-1

Gabe and Hunter with TxDOT RTI Program Manager Cary Choate

During their time at TxDOT, the interns attended numerous TxDOT functions, including project meetings and the RTI process of awarding transportation research contracts.  The interns were also tasked with creating a condensed database of the last five years of TxDOT research projects to provide a more efficient means to analyze research implementation and reduce unnecessary research duplication.  The students with their internship advisor, RTI Program Manager Cary Choate, also traveled to College Station to view a crash test at TTI’s Proving Ground and attend presentations at the TTI State Headquarter and Research Building.  The presentations included details of recent research studies including pedestrian crosswalk research and transportation infrastructure finance methods.

This program concluded with a group lunch on August 15th.

2nd Annual Transportation Security Institute Held

Recruiting the Next Generation of Professionals

This two week event, held June 8th – June 19th on the Texas Southern University campus, focused on providing a select group of high school students with opportunities to learn more about career options within the transportation security sector.

From the 75 applications received, a total of twenty-five students were invited to attend this year’s program which provided them the opportunity to learn more about the transportation security industry via hands-on technical activities, field trips to transportation facilities, lectures by transportation professionals, and on-site seminars. This year’s curriculum addressed the three principal modes of transportation (air, land and rail) with activities led by transportation and academic professionals.

While participating in the lectures and hands-on activities included in the program, students were able to:

  • learn about aviation with practice on flight simulators;
  • gain knowledge about the complexity of city planning through a city planning simulation game;
  • learn the value and incredible versatility of GIS and how it is used by many different professions;
  • view solar power demonstrations, including an exercise where the students constructed personal solar panels that attached to their phone and ipod/ipad chargers;
  • participate in a signal timing exercise utilizing real-time traffic counts obtained by the students;
  • discover the intricacy of highway bridge design utilizing a student competition to see who could come up with the most efficient bridge design at the lowest cost and still support a simulated truck without collapsing;
  • and learn the importance of geoscience and the role it plays with the construction of roads and rail lines.

This year’s field trips included visits to:

  • the Houston METRO Rail Operating Center where the students learned about the function and history of Houston METRO and the security procedures in place for the protection of all METRO riders.  They also learned, through a hands-on demonstration, about the METRO police dogs and the training they receive;
  • and Houston Transtar’s Control Center as well as the Emergency Operations Center. While at Transtar, they learned who the organization serves, and what they do to help protect the citizens of Houston and surrounding counties on the roadways. Different career opportunities were discussed in emergency management and how Transtar facilitates mass evacuations during emergencies.

Full Program Report

For more information on this program, please contact Khosro Godazi @ godazi_kx@tsu.edu

Student Highlight: Meredith Cebelak

Meredith Cebelak is a PhD student at the University of Texas in the SWUTC Advanced Institute program.  Here she discusses her Masters Thesis which uses social media check-in data for use in transportation models.

Research Technology Transfer: Changing Perceptions

At a recent forum on the University of Texas campus, Dr. Talia McCray discusses findings from two of her recent SWUTC research efforts – how to change the perceptions of cycling and transit use in the African American community.

2013 TAMU Summer Undergraduate Program Concludes

2013 UGTSP

2013 UGTSP Students: (L-R) Parker Moore, Mark Membrano, Adrian Contreras, Kevin Mackan and Daniel Bartilson

The SWUTC sponsored Undergraduate Transportation Scholars Program (UTSP) at Texas A&M University concluded it’s twenty-third successful year in August. This annual summer program, directed by Dr. Gene Hawkins, recruits upper-level undergraduate students from diverse academic backgrounds into a 10-week program designed to provide each student with a research/work experience that will help them get a head start on their careers. The individual students are paired with a mentor while in the program, who assist the student in developing a research proposal, conducting a small transportation engineering research project, presenting findings to peers, and preparing a paper in journal format. While in the program, students make field trips to various transportation agencies and attend professional meetings such as the summer meeting of TexITE. At the end of the term, students make presentations on their research and produce a paper for publication.

Student Presenter

Daniel Bartilson presents his study findings to transportation faculty and staff.

On August 2nd, the five students sponsored this summer by the UTSP made their final research presentations to a room of transportation professionals at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s Gilchrist  Building on the TAMU campus. Parker Moore from Georgia State University (Dr. Ben Sperry, mentor) presented his research Preliminary Development of a Trip Generation Manual for Texas. Mark Membreno from Texas A&M University (Mr. Bradford Brimley, mentor) presented his work on the Classification of Horizontal Curves and Evaluation of Chevrons.  Adrian Contreras from Texas A&M University (Ms. Melisa Finley, mentor) presented his work on Evaluating Driver Response to Prototype Traffic Control Devices at Access Points. Kevin Mackan from Texas A&M University (Dr. Jerry Ullman, mentor) presented his research Effective Capacities Through Freeway Lane Closures. And Daniel Bartilson from Texas A&M University (Dr. Stefan Hurlebaus, mentor) presented his work on the Validation of Computer Vision for Structural Vibration Studies.

These papers will be published in the Compendium of Student Papers and made available in the publications section of this website.

2013 UT-Austin Undergraduate Summer Internship in Transportation Program Concludes

2013 USIT Students

2013 UTSI Students at Farewell Party: (L-R) Matt Reiter, Essam Nassar, Daniel Ward, Anisah Cross, Kelsey McElduff and Megan Mosebar. UTSI students not shown in photo: Peter Kozey and Rydell Walthall.

The SWUTC sponsored 2013 Undergraduate Summer Internship in Transportation (USIT) program at the University of Texas in Austin concluded it’s 11-week summer program on August 15th with the student final presentations and  farewell reception.  This demanding and rewarding program conducted each summer, under the guidance of Dr. Chandra Bhat,  provides students with a unique insight into transportation engineering education and a possible career in the field.  During the summer, students gain firsthand experience in conducting transportation studies and actively participate in transportation research with graduate students under the supervision of Transportation faculty.  The 8 students participating this year (and their university of origin) were:  Anisah Cross – University of Arizona, Peter Kozey – Vanderbilt, Kelsey McElduff – Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Megan Mosebar – Washington State, Essam Nassar – UT-Arlington, Matt Reiter – UT-Ausitn, Rydell Walthall – UT-Austin and Daniel Ward – Lamar University.

This program, and the similar program at Texas A&M University, has been highly successful for twenty-three years in cultivating a new generation of transportation professionals.  Evidenced by the fact that about half of the summer interns apply back for transportation graduate studies to the UT and TAMU programs.

Research Technology Transfer: Autonomous Vehicles

During the July meeting of the TRB Automated Vehicle Conference at Stanford University, UT-Austin researcher, Dr. Kockelman presented the paper Environmental Implications of Shared Autonomous Vehicles Using an Agent-Based Model based on her recent SWUTC research work.  Here, she shares some key takeaways with us.

Voice-to-text Apps Offer No Driving Safety Benefit; as with Manual Texting, Reaction Times Double

Texting and DrivingTexting drivers may believe they’re being more careful when they use the voice-to-text method, but new research findings suggest that those applications offer no real safety advantage over manual texting.

The study is the first of its kind, as it is based on the performance of 43 research participants driving an actual vehicle on a closed course. Other research efforts have evaluated manual versus voice-activated tasks using devices installed in a vehicle, but the TTI analysis is the first to compare voice-to-text and manual texting on a handheld device in an actual driving environment.

Drivers first navigated the course without any use of cell phones. Each driver then traveled the course three more times performing a series of texting exercises – once using each of two voice-to-text applications (Siri for the iPhone and Vlingo for Android), and once texting manually. Researchers then measured the time it took each driver to complete the tasks, and also noted how long it took for the drivers to respond to a light which came on at random intervals during the exercises.

Major findings from the study included:

  • Driver response times were significantly delayed no matter which texting method was used. In each case, drivers took about twice as long to react as they did when they weren’t texting. With slower reaction times, drivers are less able to take action in response to sudden roadway hazards, such as a swerving vehicle or a pedestrian in the street.
  • The amount of time that drivers spent looking at the roadway ahead was significantly less when they were texting, no matter which texting method was used.
  • For most tasks, manual texting required slightly less time than the voice-to-text method, but driver performance was roughly the same with both.
  • Drivers felt less safe when they were texting, but felt safer when using a voice-to-text application than when texting manually, even though driving performance suffered equally with both methods.

Christine Yager, a TTI Associate Transportation Researcher who managed the study, says the findings offer new insight, but only a part of the knowledge that’s needed to improve roadway safety. “Understanding the distracted driving issue is an evolving process, and this study is but one step in that process,” she says. “We believe it’s a useful step, and we’re eager to see what other studies may find.”

The study’s results are being published during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Numerous agencies, including the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) are sponsoring public awareness campaigns to highlight the dangers of driving distractions, particularly those associated with cell phone use.

Another TTI study now underway is examining the motivations and attitudes of distracted drivers. Results from the focus groups and a 3,000-driver survey are expected in late summer, and will include a look at which demographic groups are most affected by the distracted driving issue.

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute is a member of the Texas A&M University System.

Complete SWUTC Voice-to-Text Study Report

For more information about this study, contact:  Christine Yager, Associate Transportation Researcher, Texas A&M Transportation Institute, (979) 845-6528

Students Present Design Ideas for Sedimentation and Erosion Control Lab

Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s Hydraulics, Sedimentation and Erosion Control Laboratory (HSECL) is a leading research, testing and educational facility in soil erosion and stormwater topical areas. The lab is continuously updating its expertise and services, and has lately moved into the new knowledge areas of low impact development (LID) techniques and green infrastructure. Demand for continuing education courses on stormwater management and LID subjects are high. However, currently available courses do not offer hands-on experiences or practical demonstrations. Therefore, an opportunity has been identified for the HSECL to fill this void and provide hands-on professional training, and high-impact learning experiences for students, regional municipalities, and other professions in the design and construction industries.

Student_PresentationsDuring the spring 2013 semester SWUTC sponsored graduate students in Texas A&M University’s Landscape Architecture Department while they developed alternative master plans for the redesign of the HSECL into a premier comprehensive educational facility. The plans were then presented for review and evaluation March 4th to a panel of faculty and research staff.

Group 1:  Clean-Collect-Convey
Ruisi Guo, Zhihuang Li, Yue Yao and Jingling Zhao

Group 2: TAMU Riverside Campus Design Project:  LID Education Program
Xiaotian Su, Yucheng Wang and Bitong Yang

Group 3: Grey to Green:  Teaching LID Through Contrast
David Danielson, Siaman Ning, Wonmin Sohn and Yixun Zhang

For more information on this effort, contact:  Ming-Han Li, Associate Professor, Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, (979) 845-7571

Chandra Bhat Receives Humboldt Research Award

Dr. Chandra Bhat

Dr. Chandra Bhat

Chandra Bhat, SWUTC Executive Committee Member and key researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, is the recipient of the Humboldt Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany.  The award recognizes “academics whose fundamental discoveries, new theories, or insights have had a significant impact on their own discipline and who are expected to continue producing cutting-edge achievements in the future.”

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, based in Bonn, Germany, grants up to 100 Humboldt Research Awards annually to scientists and scholars from abroad with internationally recognized academic qualifications.  Award winners are invited to carry out research projects of their own choice in Germany in cooperation with colleagues.  Among past winners of this prestigious prize are nearly 40 Nobel Laureates.  The Humboldt network is a nonprofit foundation established by Germany for the promotion of international research cooperation.

As part of the Humboldt Award, Bhat plans to collaborate with Prof. Kai Nagel at Technische Universitat (TU) Berlin on research issues at the interface of transportation demand modeling and transportation supply modeling.  He will also collaborate with Prof. Claudia Czado in the mathematical statistics field at TU München. Prof. Czado and Chandra share interests in the area of complex multi-dimensional dependency modeling, an important methodological issue in accommodating interactions between decision making agents in complex systems such as transport systems.

2012 Urban Mobility Report Released

Microsoft Word - 2012 FINAL UMR, 1-30-2013.docxIncludes New Measures of Congestion

As traffic congestion continues to worsen, the time required for a given trip is becoming more unpredictable, and researchers now have a way to measure that degree of unreliability, introduced for the first time as part of the annual Urban Mobility Report (UMR). The 2012 UMR is published by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), with sponsorship from the Southwest Region University Transportation Center,  and in partnership with INRIX, a leading private-sector provider of travel time information for both commuters and shippers. The combination produces a thorough and detailed illustration of traffic problems in 498 U.S. urban areas.

The eroding reliability of travel conditions nationwide is illustrated by the Planning Time Index (PTI), which measures the amount of extra time needed to arrive on time for higher priority events, such as an airline departure, just-in-time shipments, medical appointments or especially important social commitments. If the PTI for a particular trip is 3.00, a traveler would allow 60 minutes for a trip that typically takes 20 minutes when few cars are on the road. Allowing for a PTI of 3.00 would ensure on-time arrival 19 out of 20 times.

PTIs on freeways vary widely across the nation, from 1.31 (about nine extra minutes for a trip that takes 30 minutes in light traffic) in Pensacola, Florida, to 5.72 (almost three hours for that same half-hour trip) in Washington, D.C., according to the study by TTI, a member of The Texas A&M University System.

Rankings of the nation’s most congested cities vary slightly from year to year, and many of this year’s top 10 are repeat performers. Washington, D.C. tops the list, followed by Los Angeles, San Francisco-Oakland, New York-Newark and Boston. The second five include Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia and Seattle. The report provides a detailed illustration of traffic problems in a total of 498 U.S. urban areas.

In addition to PTI, the 2012 UMR also debuts an estimate of the additional carbon dioxide (CO2)emissions attributed to traffic congestion: 56 billion pounds – about 380 pounds per auto commuter. The analysis of CO2 was made possible by funding from the National Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research and Education (CFIRE).

Traffic congestion in U.S. cities has remained relatively stable in recent years and continues to underscore the link between traffic and the economy, according to the UMR. As the nation’s job picture has slowly improved, some congestion measures in 2011 were generally comparable to the year before.

Fuel wasted in congested traffic reached a total of 2.9 billion gallons – enough to fill the New Orleans Superdome four times. That’s the same as 2010, but short of the 3.2 billion gallons wasted in 2005. The Travel Time Index (the difference in time required for a rush hour commute compared to the same trip in non-congested conditions) remained steady at 1.18, still short of the 1.23 level in 2005.

dallas_congestion_webThe total financial cost of congestion in 2011 was $121 billion, up one billion dollars from the year before and translating to $818 per U.S. commuter. Of that total, about $27 billion worth was wasted time and diesel fuel from trucks moving goods on the system.

“The methods and measures developed by TTI and used in the Urban Mobility Report have been successfully implemented for policy making and prioritizing congestion-mitigating projects,” says report co-author and researcher Tim Lomax. “In light of the recent signing of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act, there is greater importance on using such measures to prioritize transportation improvement spending to get the highest investment return for the public.

Researchers recommend a balanced and diversified approach to reducing traffic congestion – one that focuses on more of everything. Their strategies include:

  • Get as much use as possible out of the transportation system we have.
  • Add roadway and public transportation capacity in the places where it is needed most.
  • Change our patterns, employing ideas like ridesharing and flexible work times to avoid traditional “rush hours.”
  • Provide more choices, such as alternate routes, telecommuting and toll lanes for faster and more reliable trips.
  • Diversify land development patterns, to make walking, biking and mass transit more practical.
  • Adopt realistic expectations, recognizing for instance that large urban areas are going to be congested, but they don’t have to stay that way all day long.

The complete report, including individual data for all major urban areas, is available at http://mobility.tamu.edu/

A Green Energy Application to Traffic Control

RoadsandBridges

A recent SWUTC study examines the deployment of solar-powered traffic control devices by evaluating the installation and maintenance costs of solar panels and LED retrofits versus traditional incandescent bulb installations.  Using data gathered in Houston, Texas researchers found that retrofitting traditional incandescent bulbs to LED, while initially costly, will yield benefits in less than five years.  And with the installation of solar panels, energy consumption would be pushed to virtually zero.  With the solar panel’s 35-40 year life span, the long-term benefits of their installation outweigh the initial costs.

Latest study results were highlighted in the January 2013 issue of Roads & Bridges in an article titled:  Traffic Sunlights: Houston Takes a Hard Look at Solar-Powered Devices.

For more information on this study, contact:  Khosro Godazi, Texas Southern University, (713) 313-7925

Walton Receives 2013 ASCE Presidents’ Award

Walton_web

Dr. C. Michael Walton

Dr. C. Michael Walton, SWUTC Executive Committee member and Ernest H. Cockrell Centennial Chair in Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, was selected to receive the 2013 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Presidents’ Award.  With this award, Dr. Walton is recognized for his exemplary career and contributions to civil engineering education and research and for his extraordinary professional and technical leadership in the fields of intelligent transportation systems, freight transport, transportation planning, economics and policy analysis.

The ASCE Presidents’ Award was established in America’s Bicentennial year in commemoration of the nation’s first President, who was a civil engineer and land surveyor.

New Findings in Voice-To-Text Research

Texting drivers may believe they’re being more careful when they use the voice-to-text method, but new research findings suggest that those applications offer no real safety advantage over manual texting.

Machemehl Receives CUTC Award

Machemehl_web

Dr. Randy Machemehl

Dr. Randy Machemehl, SWUTC Associate Director and Nasser I. Al-Rashid Centennial Professor in Transportation Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, was selected to receive the Distinguished Contribution to University Transportation Education and Research Award from the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC) during their annual banquet in Washington D.C. in January, 2013.

The award has been given annually since 988 to honor individuals who have a long history of outstanding contributions to university transportation education and research.  Winners are chosen by vote of the CUTC Executive Committee from nominations submitted by CUTC members.

Walton Receives 2013 Frank Turner Medal

Prof. Mike Walton

C. Michael Walton

C. Michael Walton, SWUTC Executive Committee member, professor of civil engineering and the Ernest H. Cockrell Centennial Chair in Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, received the 2013 Frank Turner Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Transportation.

The award recognizes lifetime achievement in transportation, as demonstrated by a distinguished career in the field, professional prominence and a distinctive, widely recognized contribution to transportation policy, administration or research.

Walton was honored for his influential 40-year career in transportation, in which he has combined distinguished university teaching and research, exceptional service to government at the state and federal levels, active engagement with the private sector and extraordinary service to professional organizations.

Walton received the award during a luncheon on Jan.16 at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) 92nd Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. A committee composed of top staffers from the Federal Highway Administration, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, American Public Transit Association, the Texas Transportation Institute and TRB selects the award recipient. TRB, which is also the secretariat for the award, is one of six major divisions of the National Research Council, which is jointly administered by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine.

As a researcher on transport systems engineering and policy analysis, Walton has contributed to more than 500 publications in the areas of intelligent transportation systems, freight transport, and transportation engineering, planning, policy, and economics. He is internationally respected by his colleagues and peers and has received numerous awards and honors. His election to the National Academy of Engineering in 1993 gave formal recognition to the high esteem in which he is held in the professional engineering community. As an educator, Walton has influenced the lives of several generations of transportation engineering students and has been a strong mentor to many who have worked closely with him.

 

Steve Boyles Receives NSF CAREER Award

steve-boyles

Steve Boyles

Steve Boyles, SWUTC Researcher and Assistant Professor in Transportation Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, was a recent recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER award. Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards from the National Science Foundation recognize promising young faculty and supports their research with five years of funding.

Boyles’ proposal is entitled “Integrated Multiresolution Transportation Network Modeling” and the objectives of the work are to the investigate the relationships between transportation networks of different scales/sizes, learn how to quantify these relationships, and discover the implications for transportation planning.

SWUTC Hosts Productive Symposium

Travel Surveys:  Moving from Tradition to Practical Innovation

The SWUTC Travel Survey Symposium was held in Dallas on November 8 and 9.  This event was attended by more than 70 travel survey professionals from across the United States, from Florida to Alaska, with one attendee from the City of Calgary (Canada) as well, representing an almost equal mix of agency, consultant, and academic researchers.  The symposium started with a poster session, featuring research from 22 related efforts.  This was followed by an opening session that included a Texas welcome from Mr. Michael Morris, Executive Director of North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) and a key note speech from Dr. Kermit Wies of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.  Attendees were encouraged to think outside the box and consider all users of travel survey data as their customers.

The symposium was divided into two parts.  The discussion groups on Thursday focused on identifying lessons learned and opportunities to advance methods and sampling approaches, as well as considering all uses of the survey data.  The day ended with attendees presenting their versions of the “travel survey of the future” – incorporating new technologies, known and on the horizon.  Friday, the focus of the symposium discussion turned to identifying what can be implemented now and establishing a research agenda to move us toward the newly identified survey designs.  Overall, the symposium received very positive reviews from the attendees.

The Travel Survey Symposium was extraordinary in several ways.  First, it attracted a very high proportion of the true thought leaders in the field.  Second, it was very timely in that our traditional methods of travel survey have over-relied on the telephone which is failing us.  But at the same time technology such as smart phones and GPS are in wide-spread use and have great potential for travel data collection.  Finally, the program committee designed an engaging sequence of activities which deviated from the typical conference presentations and encouraged peer exchange and active participation by all attendees.   – Attendee Lisa Aultman-Hall

A compendium with details of the discussions and recommendations is in-process and anticipated to be released in mid-January 2013.

Symposium Participants

Symposium participants exchange ideas on how to sample hard-to-reach populations.

2012 SWUTC William Harris Award for Outstanding PhD Student

Daniel J. Fagnant Selected to Receive 2012 William Harris Award

2012 William Harris Award Winner Daniel Fagnant

Daniel Fagnant

Daniel Fagnant is a Ph.D. candidate in Transportation Engineering at UT Austin.  He obtained a B.S degree in Computer Engineering at Gonzaga University and his MS in Civil Engineering from UT.  After his undergraduate studies, Mr. Fagnant spent 5 years at the Alaska DOT’s Southeast Regional Traffic & Safety section where he helped run the Highway Safety Improvement Program, proposing, evaluating and designing numerous projects.  In addition to being the youngest team member to develop Alaska’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan, he has also received numerous awards and fellowships, including the Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship, and is an Eno Transportation Leadership Fellow. Mr. Fagnant’s research experience includes traffic and safety analysis and design, transportation project evaluation, autonomous vehicles, motorcycles, transportation policy and economics, and transportation networks and modeling.  The title of his dissertation is Anticipating Impacts of and Preparing Infrastructure for Autonomous Vehicles.

Mr. Fagnant was selected to represent the SWUTC at the annual UTC Outstanding Student of the Year awards ceremony during TRB’s Annual Meeting in January, 2013.

This award is presented annually by the SWUTC and comes with a $1,000 cash award.

 

2012 Naomi Ledé Oustanding Masters Student Award

Chelse L. Hoover Selected to Receive 2012 Naomi Ledé Outstanding Masters Student Award

2012 Naomi Lede Award Winner Chelse Hoover

Chelse Hoover

Ms. Chelse Hoover entered Texas Southern University in the fall of 2007 and graduated with a BS in Civil Engineering Technology, Cum Laude in the spring of 2011. Immediately after graduating, Ms. Hover was accepted into the Transportation Planning and Management graduate program at TSU where she is expected to graduate with her Masters degree in May 2013. As an incoming college freshman, Ms. Hoover was not exactly sure what major she wanted to pursue; but she knew whatever major she chose to study had to be in high demand and have the ability to afford her limitless opportunities. During her undergraduate career she received two internships; in which her most memorable internship was revising highway plans for KBR’s transportation department. That summer internship is what encouraged her to pursue the Transportation Studies program at TSU. She realized that the number of female transportation experts was scarce, thus she figured that her background in engineering and a masters degree in planning would set her apart from many of her peers. As she quickly approaches graduation, Ms. Hoover is currently working on her masters thesis, The Characteristics of VSP with Respect to Delay Time in the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria Area, and she is also looking for career opportunities pertaining to transportation planning and transit oriented development.

This award is presented annually by the SWUTC and comes with a $1,000 cash award.

 

2012 SWUTC Robert Herman Award for Most Outstanding Student

Jinpeng Lv Selected to Receive 2012 Robert Herman Award

2012 Robert Herman Award Winner Jinpeng Lv

Jinpeng Lv

Mr. Jinpeng Lv is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University – College Station and expects to graduate in December 2012. Previously he earned his Master’s degree in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University – Kingsville in 2008. Over the past six years, Mr. Lv has been working with Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) for six years and has participated in many research projects from county to national levels, such as Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC), Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), Southwest Region University Transportation Centers (SWUTC), and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). His research interests include traffic operation, signal design, and air quality. In particular, Mr. Lv is developing his dissertation on Signal Timing Optimization to Improve Air Quality. His dissertation develops an optimization methodology for signal timing at intersections to reduce emissions based on MOVES, the latest emission model released by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). His study is expected to bridge the gap that the research on signal optimization at intersections lags behind the development of emissions models. A paper based on his dissertation won the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Student Paper Award in 2012. Moreover, he has published many papers on reputable journals, such as Transportation Research – Part D and the Journal of ITS. In addition, Mr. Lv is active in the ITE Student Chapter and has served as the corresponding secretary for one term. His work effectively enhanced the connections between students and experienced researchers and engineers.

Mr. Lv is supervised by Dr. Yunlong Zhang.

This award, presented yearly by the SWUTC, comes with a $1,000 cash award.

 

SWUTC Sponsors Guest Lecturer

Cesar Queiroz

Cesar Queiroz

Mr. Cesar Queiroz, former World Bank Highways Advisor, was invited by the SWUTC to visit students and faculty at the University of Texas at Austin’s transportation engineering department on October 12 and give a presentation titled: “Technical and Financial Factors for Successful Infrastructure Public-Private Partnership Projects.”  He spoke of the dire state of transportation funding around the world, and how successful utilization of public-private partnerships (PPP’s) can lessen the impact of funding shortfalls.  One major criticism of PPP’s is that they will often take the form of toll roads, which are seen to be undesirable to many road users.  But, Queiroz used an anecdote from his time at the World Bank to demonstrate user’s willingness to pay for use of transportation facilities.  One day, while riding down a one-lane dirt road in rural Ghana, he passed a man working alone to fix potholes on the road.  Intrigued, Queiroz stopped and asked the man his story.  The man made a decent living; he was even able to send his children to school.  All of his income came from tips that were thrown out of the windows of passing vehicles.  These travelers knew that if it were not for this man maintaining the road, they would have no way to travel this route.  This convinced Queiroz that if road users understand that there are no better alternatives, they will be willing to pay to use the facility.

He also described a toolkit developed by the World Bank that can be used to determine the feasibility of pursuing a project as a PPP.

Hawkins Honored with Educator Award

portrait of Dr. Hawkins

Dr. Gene Hawkins

Dr. Gene Hawkins, SWUTC Researcher, SWUTC Associate Director for the Transportation Scholars Program at Texas A&M University, SWUTC Executive Committee member and Associate Professor in the Texas A&M Zachry Department of Civil Engineering received the 2012 Wilbur Smith Distinguished Transportation Educator Award from ITE International at their Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, August 15th.

ITE Awards the Wilbur S. Smith award annually to recognize a transportation educator who has made an outstanding contribution to the transportation profession by relating academic studies to the actual practice of transportation.  The award recognizes Hawkins for his commitment to the professional development of his students.

The wording on the award reads, in part:  “Dr. Hawkins typifies the ‘best of the best’ in his personal commitment to achieving excellence, both as an academician and as a professional.  His commitment to students has been demonstrated by the personal attention that he gives to his students and the assistance he gives them in furthering their careers.”

During this three-decade long education career, Hawkins has been very active in ITE activities, including as the Texas A&M ITE student chapter advisor from 2007 to 2010.  Texas A&M ITE was awarded best chapter in the Texas District in 2008 and 2010, and the Texas A&M team won the inaugural ITE Traffic Bowl in 2010.

Chandra Bhat Named New Director of Center for Transportation Research

Dr. Chandra Bhat

Dr. Chandra Bhat

Chandra Bhat has been named director of the Center for Transportation Research (CTR) at The University of Texas at Austin.

Bhat, a senior SWUTC researcher and professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, assumed the role of director on Sept. 1. He is the fourth director in the history of the center, which was founded in 1963.

CTR is a nationally recognized research organization focusing on transportation research, education, workforce development and technology commercialization. The center brings in approximately $15 million in research funding annually, develops numerous safety innovations, and influences transportation policy on the state and national level.

“Chandra is an accomplished educator and researcher who has made many significant contributions to transportation research, technologies and policy making,” said Gregory L. Fenves, dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering. “His combination of advanced research skills and practical experience will position CTR to meet tomorrow’s transportation challenges.”

As director of CTR, Bhat oversees an extensive research portfolio that addresses many aspects of transportation, including traffic congestion relief, transportation policy, environmental and energy impacts and driver behavior. He leads a staff of about 80 faculty researchers, 20 professional researchers, and more than 50 graduate and undergraduate students.

“My efforts will focus on building up CTR’s recognition and reach, not only within the state, but nationally and internationally,” Bhat said. “I see huge opportunities in policy, technology and linking our research to the needs of society.”

Bhat, who has served on the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin since 1997, obtained his Ph.D. from Northwestern University and his bachelor’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. He is a leading expert in the areas of travel demand modeling and travel behavior analysis. His research has resulted in more than 150 refereed journal articles.

He has spoken to USA Today, The Dallas Morning News, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, MSNBC News and ABC News, as well has been featured in local and national publications.

Bhat is a member of the university’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers, UT Austin. He has received the S.S. Steinberg Award from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association; the Wilbur S. Smith Distinguished Transportation Educator Award; and the James Laurie Prize awarded by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Bhat succeeds Randy B. Machemehl who joined the center as director in 1999.

Under Machemehl’s guidance, CTR’s annual research revenue increased from $7 to $16 million. He also helped prepare more than 100 students annually for positions in government, academia and private industry.

“Dr. Machemehl successfully balanced his academic schedule of teaching and mentoring with the challenges of leading CTR at a time of great change and did so with diligence, consistency, fairness and respect for everyone he dealt with, including sponsors, colleagues, staff and students,” said Sharon Wood, chair of the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering.”

 

UT-Austin Celebrates Conclusion of Summer Program

University of Texas at Austin Undergraduate Summer Interns

University of Texas at Austin Undergraduate Summer Interns with SWUTC Director – Dock Burke

The SWUTC sponsored 2012 Undergraduate Summer Internship in Transportation (USIT) program at the University of Texas in Austin concluded it’s 11-week summer program on August 9th with the student final presentations and  farewell reception.  This demanding and rewarding program conducted each summer, under the guidance of Dr. Chandra Bhat,  provides students with a unique insight into transportation engineering education and a possible career in the field.  During the summer, students gain firsthand experience in conducting transportation studies and actively participate in transportation research with graduate students under the supervision of Transportation faculty.  The 10 students participating this year (and their university of origin) were:  Aliz Logman – Washington State University, Kimberly Selph – Washington State University, Jared Fusilier – McNeese State University, Bailey Harden – University of Alabama, Jay Chmilewski – University of Maryland, Melissa Archer – Arizona State University, Garrett Fullerton – University of South Carolina, Megan Hoklas – University of Texas-Austin, Cody Stone – University of Florida, David Kan – University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

This program, and the similar program at Texas A&M University, has been highly successful for twenty-two years in cultivating a new generation of transportation professionals.  Evidenced by the fact that about half of the summer interns apply back for transportation graduate studies to the UT and TAMU programs.

9th Annual Summer Transportation Institute-Kingsville Held

The 2012 Summer Transportation Institute (STI) program was held from July 23rd through July 27th on the Texas A&M University-Kingsville campus.  The week long program featured several fun hands-on activities such as building bridges and constructing tetrahedral kites.  New to this year, the program included a solar power curricula where the students were able to build working model solar vehicles.  Within this module, the students also participated in activities exploring other types of renewable energy including wind power and biodiesels.  Every year, the program provides fields trips for the students.  This year, students visited the Port of Corpus Christi and the USS Lexington.  There they learned about port operations and were briefed about future port expansion plans and how it will impact the local and regional economy with an anticipated 7,000 new jobs to be added, many in the area of transportation and logistics.  But, without doubt, the highlight of the week for the students had to be building and racing cardboard canoes.

As always, the activities selected for the week emphasized math, technology, and science and allowed students the opportunity to work individually and as part of teams.  This year, sixteen 7th, 8th and 9th grade students attended the Kingsville STI program.  The group consisted of 8 girls and 8 boys. Fifteen of these students were minority students and 14 of the students were from low income school districts.

This unique program located in south Texas has been hosted annually by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), SWUTC and the College of Engineering at TAMUK since 2004.  144 students have participated in past programs, many of which continued on to pursue college degrees in engineering and science.

For more information on this program, please contact Debbie Jasek, d-jasek@tamu.edu

SWUTC Graduate Student Wins William P. Eno Research Paper

Daniel Fagnant

Daniel Fagnant

Daniel Fagnant, SWUTC Advanced Institute doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin, was selected as author of the second annual William P. Eno Research Paper, by the Eno Center for Transportation.

Each spring, the Eno Leadership Development Conference brings a select group of the top graduate students in transportation and related disciplines to the Nation’s Capital for an introduction to how transportation policy and programs are formed. During their week in Washington, D.C., the “Eno Fellows” meet with leaders from key transportation constituencies, including the U.S. Department of Transportation and its modal administrations, congressional committees, industry associations, and numerous advocacy groups. The Eno Fellows are also invited to submit abstracts for the William P. Eno Research Paper, a competitive paper competition. The goal of the paper is to expose a student to the complex nature of transportation policymaking while contributing to Eno’s growing knowledge base.

The abstract, “Implications, Barriers and Policy Recommendations for Autonomous Vehicles”, was co-authored with his advisor and SWUTC researcher, Dr. Kara Kockelman. It was chosen from among competing proposals and is slated for publication in winter 2013, and will be presented in summer 2013 in Washington, D.C.

Fagnant received his BS from Gonzaga University in Spring 2002, and his MS in Transportation from The University of Texas at Austin in August 2011.

TAMU Undergraduates Present Findings

2012 Undergraduate Transportation Scholars

2012 UTSP Participants
(L-R) Brooke Ullman, Amelia Celoza, Gene Hawkins, Kayla Weimert, Melisa Finley

The SWUTC sponsored Undergraduate Transportation Scholars Program (UTSP) at Texas A&M University concluded it’s twenty-second successful year in July.  This annual summer program, directed by Dr. Gene Hawkins, recruits upper-level undergraduate students from diverse academic backgrounds into a 10-week program designed to provide each student with a research/work experience that will help them get a head start on their careers.  The individual students are paired with a mentor while in the program, who assist the student in developing a research proposal, conducting a small transportation engineering research project, presenting findings to peers, and preparing a paper in journal format.  While in the program, students make field trips to various transportation agencies and attend professional meetings such as the summer meeting of TexITE.   At the end of the term, students make presentations on their research and produce a paper for publication.

On July 27th, the two students sponsored this summer by the UTSP made their final research presentations to a room of transportation professionals at the Texas Transportation Institute State Highway Research Building on the TAMU campus.  Amelia Celonz from Arizona State University (Ms. Brooke Ullman, mentor) presented her research Analysis of Factors Influencing Run-off Road Crashes on Horizontal Curves.  And Kayla Weimert from Norwich University (Ms. Melisa Finley, mentor) presented her work on the Impact of Nighttime Work Zone Lighting on Motorists’ Detection of Objects.

These papers will be published in the Compendium of Student Papers and made available in the publications section of this website.

Texting Doubles a Driver’s Reaction Time

With funding from USDOT to the SWUTC, researchers at the Texas Transportation Institute have determined that a driver’s reaction time is doubled when distracted by reading or sending a text message. The study reveals how the texting impairment is even greater than many experts believed, and demonstrates how texting drivers are less able to react to sudden roadway hazards.

SWUTC Conducts Transportation Security Institute

Recruiting the Next Generation of Professionals

This two week event, held June 18th – June 29th on the Texas Southern University campus, focused on providing a select group of high school students with opportunities to learn more about career options within the transportation security sector.

The nineteen students who attended the program experienced an engaging curriculum framework that exposed them to the transportation security industry via hands-on technical activities, field trips to transportation facilities, lectures by transportation professionals, and on-site seminars.  Topics included in the program covered airport, maritime and public transit security, bridge and highway design, and the challenges involved in emergency management.  The primary goal of the program is to introduce these exemplary students to various career opportunities in transportation security while reinforcing the importance of mathematics, science, and technology skills in the 21st century.  Students also observed how public/private partnerships work to strengthen the link between today’s students and future transportation security professionals.

In addition to highlighting the challenges faced by transportation security personnel, the curriculum also addressed the four principal modes of transportation (air, land, rail, and water) with activities led by transportation and academic professionals whose fields of interests included the following:  transit operations, entrepreneurship, commercial aviation, maritime security, geographic information systems, urban transportation history and STEM-related careers.

For more information on this program, please contact Khosro Godazi @ godazi_kx@tsu.edu

Amy Epps Martin Wins AAPT Award, Elected to Board of Directors

Amy Epps-Martin

Amy Epps Martin

Key SWUTC researcher and Texas Transportation Institute Research Engineer Amy Epps Martin was recently awarded the Association of Asphalt Paving Technologists (AAPT) Board of Directors Award of Recognition during their annual meeting in Austin, TX. Epps Martin also began her term as one of two AAPT Directors at Large.

“I’ve been involved with this organization for several years, so it was a big honor to receive this award,” says Epps Martin, who is also a professor of Materials Engineering at Texas A&M University.

AAPT is a leader in the advancement of asphalt paving technology with over 800 members from every continent in the world. Members depend on the association as an authoritative source for the latest developments in the field and as a hub for communicating with fellow professionals. The organization meets annually and their activities include asphalt-related technical sessions, symposia, poster sessions and workshops presented by experts in all aspects of asphalt paving technology from around the world.

Zhang Receives 2012 James Laurie Prize

Zhanmin Zhang

Zhanmin Zhang

Dr. Zhanmin Zhang, SWUTC Executive Committee member and key researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, has received the 2012 James Laurie Prize from the Transportation and Development Institute within the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The James Laurie Prize recognizes contributions to the advancement of transportation engineering in research, planning, design, or construction.

Dr. Zhang was recognized “for his contributions to the advancement of knowledge and understanding of the management of highway infrastructure systems and, in particular, his development of a state-of-the-art pavement condition performance prediction process and pavement needs estimates for different pavement condition goals.”

SWUTC Celebrates Milestone, Shared Accomplishments

SWUTC LogoSince beginning in 1988, the Southwest Region University Transportation Center (SWUTC) has grown into one of the most highly respected University Transportation Centers (UTC) in that U.S. DOT-sponsored program. Dock Burke, SWUTC director, is quick to identify the institutional sources of the center’s accomplishments.

“There are two main reasons why SWUTC has flourished since October of 1988,” Burke notes. “Our strong and continuous support from TTI [SWUTC is headquartered within the Institute] and the robust collegial relationship with our consortium partners:

  • Texas A&M University;
  • The University of Texas at Austin and its Center for Transportation Research; and
  • Texas Southern University and its Center for Transportation Training and Research.”

Established “to advance U.S. technology and expertise in the many disciplines comprising transportation through the mechanisms of education, research and technology transfer,” SWUTC is one of ten regional UTCs around the country founded with federal grants that must be matched on the state level.

In 1992, the Texas Legislature approved TTI’s request for matching funds from the State of Texas. “That one act did more to stabilize our funding base than anything else,” Burke says. More recently, TxDOT has become an active partner in the research project evaluation and selection process.

Wang Receives CUTC-ARTBA New Faculty Award

Dr. Bruce Wang

Dr. Bruce Wang

Dr. Bruce Wang, key SWUTC researcher and Assistant Professor in Transportation Engineering at Texas A&M University, was the recipient of CUTC-ARTBA New Faculty Award presented during the January 21st Annual CUTC Awards Banquet in Washington D.C.  This award, presented annually, recognizes outstanding teaching and research contributions to the transportation field by a new tenure-track faculty member in transportation.

Dr. Wang has a commendable record in all the fields of teaching, research and service.  In teaching, Dr. Wang was nominated as the Wisconsin Teaching Fellow in 2007 by the University of Wisconsin system.  And his graduate students have won multiple competitive national awards, which includes the most recent 2010 Pikarsky Memorial Awardto his MS graduate Kai Yin.  In research, Dr. Wang has a very high expectation.  He has had 10 publications in the leading journals Transportation Research (B, C, and E) alone, an exceptional achievement.  His research projects have been funded by various agencies such as the federal DOT, DOE, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the university transportation center programs (SWUTC, UTCM and CFIRE).  Additionally he has been active for collaborative efforts between UTCM, CFIRE and TransNow.  Dr. Wang’s professional service is outstanding.  He currently chairs the TRB Freight Planning and Logistics Committee (AT015) and its Freight Modeling and Best Paper Awards Subcommittees.  Under his tenure, the AT015 has attracted papers for the annual meeting from less than thirty each year to over sixty each year now.  Last but not the least, Dr. Wang serves on multiple editorial boards of transportation research journals including the most prestigious Transportation Research Part B:  Methodological.  His other international service includes being an Associate Editor for the IEEE World Conference on ITS in 2010 and 2011 respectively.  Dr. Wang’s achievements are outstanding.  We believe Dr. Wang commands a significant potential to make continued contribution to the field of transportation.

Photo of Bruce Wang receiving New Faculty Award

Dr. Genevieve Giuliano, CUTC President, presents New Faculty Award to Dr. Bruce Wang

Carey Blackmar Barr Receives 2012 Wootan Award

Carey Blackmar Barr

Carey Blackmar Barr

SWUTC Advanced Institute student at the University of Texas at Austin, Mrs. Carey Blackmar Barr, was the 2012 recipient of the Wootan Award for Outstanding M.S. Thesis in Policy and Planning presented at the Council of University Transportation Centers Awards Banquet in Washington D.C. on January 21st.  This award is given annually for the best M.S. thesis in the field of policy and planning in transportation studies.  Mrs. Barr’s thesis is titled Comparing Transit Accessibility Measures:  A Case Study of Access to Heathcare Facilities.

Mrs. Barr is supervised by Dr. Chandra Bhat.

2011 Naomi Ledé Oustanding Masters Student Award

Shain Eversley Selected to Receive 2011 Naomi Ledé Outstanding Masters Student Award

2011 Lede Award Winner - Shain Eversley

Shain Eversley

Mr. Shain Eversley, SWUTC graduate researcher and masters student at Texas Southern University was selected to receive this award for his outstanding academic and research achievements.  His research contributions include a leadership role in the SWUTC project Transit Agency Strategies that Encourage Mixed Uses Around Stations.  And a  TSU National Transportation Security Center for Excellence (NTSCOE-P) research effort where he assessed gaps in reporting of hazardous materials incidents.  The results of his NTSOE-P research were presented Spring 2011 at the Transportation Research Forum in Long Beach, California.  Also as part of this research, he contributed as a team member to the training of a select group of METRO bus operators in the event of a terrorist threat.  He conducted interviews of selected US transit agencies to establish the baseline for current training.  This past summer, he was selected for the prestigious Eno Leadership Development Conference where he spent a week enhancing his knowledge about the workings of the transportation arena, particularly in Washington, D.C.

Since Mr. Eversley entered the TSU masters program, he has maintained a stellar GPA.  During classroom discussions, he is insightful and engaged.  He approaches each assignment with thoroughness and depth.

Mr. Eversley obtained his Bachelor of Science form Tuskegee University in Business Management.  After graduating with honors in 2004, he was employed with the Union Pacific Railroad for four years, then took a position with Prestige Logistics prior to entering the TSU masters program.

This award is presented annually by the SWUTC and comes with a $1,000 cash award.

 

2011 SWUTC Robert Herman Award for Most Outstanding Student

Rajesh Paleti Selected to Receive 2011 Robert Herman Award

2011 Herman Award Winner - Rajesh Paleti

Rajesh Paleti

Mr. Rajesh Paleti, Ph.D. student from the University of Texas at Austin, was selected to receive this award for his very high degree of motivation and dedication to his academic pursuits, combined with his spirit of camaraderie toward his fellow students.  Mr. Paleti has taken a leadership role on several research projects, including an activity-based modeling project and a vehicle ownership/type modeling project.  He is one of those rare and unique students who rises to every challenge, shows great excitement and enthusiasm in learning and contributing to transportation science, and has a mind set well suited for analytic scientific inquiry.  In his PhD work, Mr. Paleti is focusing on developing a comprehensive vehicle fleet composition and evolution framework that accommodates all of the dimensions characterizing vehicle fleet/usage decisions and vehicle transactions (i.e., fleet evolution) over time.  This research effort uses a unique data set that allows inclusion of several policy variables and vehicle characteristics that are not available in the market currently.  Mr. Paleti is using cutting-edge econometric and statistical methods in his research, some of which are new contributions to the econometric field and not just to the transportation field.  This is evident in the fact that he already has eight refereed papers published or forthcoming in some of the top international journals, and has eight papers being considered for publication.  He clearly is a dynamic and creative individual who is at the forefront of important methodological developments, as well as critical policy issues facing the profession.

This award, presented yearly by the SWUTC, comes with a $1,000 cash award.

Mr. Paleti’s major professor at the University of Texas at Austin is Dr. Chandra Bhat.

2011 SWUTC William Harris Award for Outstanding PhD Student

Benjamin Sperry Selected to Receive 2012 William Harris Award

2011 Harris Award Winner - Ben Sperry

Ben Sperry

Mr. Ben Sperry is a SWUTC Graduate Researcher in the Multimodal Freight Transportation Division of the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) at Texas A&M University.  He is currently a Doctoral degree candidate in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering, and expects to graduate with a Ph.D. in civil engineering in May 2012.  He earned his Master’s degree in civil engineering from Texas A&M in 2008.  A native of Springfield, Illinois, he received his Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Evansville (Indiana) in 2006.  He is active in the Texas A&M University Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Student Chapter and has received numerous awards and recognition for his academic endeavors.  Mr. Sperry’s research focuses on understanding how existing passenger rail lines contribute to mobility and economic development in intercity corridors, primarily through the collection and analysis of passenger survey data.  The title of his dissertation is Development of Improved Traveler Survey Methods for High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Planning.

Mr. Sperry was selected to represent the SWUTC at the annual UTC Outstanding Student of the Year awards ceremony during TRB’s Annual Meeting in January, 2011 in recognition of his all-round exemplary performance in academics, research quality and productivity, and leadership activities.

This award is presented annually by the SWUTC and comes with a $1,000 cash award.

 

Little Named ASCE Distinguished Member

Dallas Little

Dallas Little

Dr. Dallas N. Little, SWUTC Executive Committee member and key SWUTC researcher at Texas A&M University, was selected a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).  Little is an associate director of the International Center for Aggregates Research and a senior fellow at the Texas Transportation Institute.  Distinguished Membership is the highest recognition ASCE confers and is reserved for members who have attained the grade of member or fellow and who demonstrate acknowledged eminence in some branch of engineering or in its related arts and sciences.

Dr. Little was selected for this recognition for his ground-breaking research in asphalt mixture healing and surface energy, advancing pavement mechanics, and innovative subgrade stabilization as well as his leadership in transportation engineering education and practice.

Zhang and SWUTC Graduate Student Co-Authors Receive Best Paper Award

Zhanmin Zhang

Zhanmin Zhang

A paper co-authored by SWUTC key researcher Dr. Zhanmin Zhang, and two of his SWUTC supported transportation graduate students, Epigmenio Gonzalez and Wenxing Liu, was selected to receive the Best Paper Award by the 8th International Conference on Managing Pavements Assets (ICMPA). An award plaque for their paper based on their SWUTC research work  “A Methodological Framework for Minimizing the Budget Fluctuations on Highway Maintenance Programs” was presented at the 8th ICMPA held in Santiago, Chile in November 2011.

The ICMPA is designed to focus on issues associated with fulfilling the social, economic, and environmental responsibilities for sustainable, well managed, better roads. The 8th ICMPA was attended by nearly 400 delegates of academia, practitioners, and government officials representing countries from all five continents.