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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.