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 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.

TAMU Undergraduate Scholars Program Completes 24th Successful Year

2014-TSP-Program-Web

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.