Teachers Translate Transportation Research into Classroom Experiences

At the West Region Transportation Workforce Center (WRTWC), the first Research Experience for Teachers in Innovative Transportation Systems (ITS-RET) program is well underway. Ten middle, high school, and community college faculty participants are conducting multidisciplinary transportation research for six weeks at Montana State University this summer. The research topic areas focus on the unique challenges of rural transportation systems and developing solutions to transportation challenges through innovation. In addition to working with faculty and research mentors on research, the ITS-RET participants are translating their research experiences into classroom curricula.

On July 31 and August 1, the teachers were able to implement new teaching materials they developed during a two-day workshop held for middle and high school students. The classroom activities demonstrated what an excellent vehicle transportation is for integrated STEM learning. The young workshop participants were able to hone computational thinking skills during a programming challenge, test the strength of different materials, build and test crash attenuators, and use drones to survey a landscape before designing and building wildlife crossing structures. The classroom modules will be posted to the WRTWC website next month as a resource for other teachers. Teachers interested in participating in the RET program next summer can visit the Center website for additional information: http://wrtwc.org/resources/for-educators/

View the WTI project description

Students try out new teaching materials for designing and building wildlife crossing structures. Part of the Teachers in Innovative Transportation Systems (ITS-RET) program.
Students try out new teaching materials for designing and building wildlife crossing structures.

Students try out new teaching materials for computational thinking skills. Part of the Teachers in Innovative Transportation Systems (ITS-RET) program.
Students try out new teaching materials for computational thinking skills.

Students try out new teaching materials for designing and building wildlife crossing structures. Part of the Teachers in Innovative Transportation Systems (ITS-RET) program.
Students try out new teaching materials for designing and building wildlife crossing structures.

WRTWC is sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration and based at the Western Transportation Institute.

International Audience Attends CHSC Inaugural Symposium on Positive Culture

At the end of June, the Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC) hosted its first research symposium on the role of positive culture in promoting safe and healthy behaviors. Nearly 50 participants from across the country, and even from as far as American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands, gathered in Bozeman, Montana for three days to learn about the latest best practices and research relating to transforming culture.

While CHSC staff, including Nic Ward, Jay Otto, Katie Dively, Kari Finley, Kelly Green, Annmarie McMahill, Jamie Arpin and Tara Kuipers, facilitated the symposium sessions, all participants were encouraged to actively participate and share knowledge. “Our attendees included health practitioners, safety professionals, prevention specialists, and advocates,” said Director Nic Ward; “we hope they gained a stronger understanding of what positive culture can do, and especially some communication skills and leadership strategies to integrate these principles into their daily work.”

More information about the Symposium is available on the CHSC website. Also, watch interviews with Nic Ward and Katie Dively that were featured in a news story on ABC Fox Montana.

Can the Next Generation of Wildlife Crossing Structures be Made from Plastic?

WTI Hosts International Workshop to Inspire Creative Designs

In early May, WTI hosted a group of engineers, ecologists, and landscape architects from Canada and the U.S. for a two-day workshop to create innovative designs for wildlife crossing structures. In particular, they were focused on whether a high-strength, fiber reinforced plastic could be used to build bridge-like structures over roadways.  If feasible, using plastic structures could make it easier and less expensive to install wildlife crossing structures in more locations.

The workshop was led by Rob Ament, Program Manager for WTI’s Road Ecology research, and Nina-Marie Lister, Director of the Ecological Design Lab at Canada’s Ryerson University.  Participants were split into two teams to create “competing” designs for prototype wildlife crossings at Hyalite Canyon and Bozeman Pass on Interstate 90.  Also taking part were WTI Research Scientist Tony Clevenger, and graduate student Matt Bell, who is conducting research on wildlife crossing structures while pursuing a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering at MSU.

 MSU News highlighted the workshop in a recent feature story, which is available on the MSU website.

Shankwitz to speak at Wonderlust event

Portrait of WTI Researcher Craig ShankwitzMontana State University’s Wonderlust program will offer two free public presentations on innovative MSU research at the Belgrade Community Library this month. WTI Senior Research Scientist Craig Shankwitz will speak on driverless cars from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 31. Shankwitz will discuss work on driverless vehicles from the 1950s through today. He will include a current status report and a tutorial on how driverless cars operate, as well as a discussion of what’s next for driverless cars and their passengers.

For more information or to register, visit montana.edu/wonderlust and click on “view all offerings.” There is no fee to attend, but registration is requested as seating is limited.

WTI’s Dani Hess is making the news with Bozeman Commute-A-Thon

The Spring Commute-A-Thon kicked off on Monday March 26, and will continue through Friday, April 6. Coordinator Dani Hess was interviewed by KBZK-TV while promoting the event on the MSU campus on Monday. Watch her interview and the full new story on the KBZK websitehttp://www.kbzk.com/story/37813013/commute-a-thon-competition-kicks-off-in-bozeman

Have you joined the challenge? go to https://bozemancommute.org/#/challenges/5a872dd59584fe20ee7dfe16 to register on the Bozeman Commuter Project website so you can start logging your trips by bus, bike, carpool or on foot!

Screen shot of the Bozeman Commute.org website. Shows commute options after staff and destination are filled in.

TRB Summer Workshop on Sustainable Transportation

The Transportation Research Board Committee on Resource Conservation and Recovery (ADC 60) has announced that its summer workshop will be held July 15-17, 2018 in Spokane, WA. This year’s theme will be “Waste Recycling, Upcycling, and Sustainable Transportation.” The call for presentation and poster abstracts is now open, and the deadline is April 9, 2018.  Submission information is available here.

WTI Researchers Return from Busy Week at TRB

WTI researchers have returned from a busy week at the National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board’s (TRB) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.  Attracting transportation leaders from around the country, the TRB Annual Meeting is the premier national transportation research gathering of the year.  Many WTI researchers are leaders and members of TRB committees, are selected to lead workshops, or invited to present their research.

TRB also provides an opportunity for graduate students to gain professional presentation skills, and network with transportation researcher and practitioners.  MSU doctoral student Amir Jamali presented two projects on pedestrian safety at a TRB poster session: “Pedestrian Crash Hotspot Identification Using Two-Step Floating Catchment Area Method and Machine Learning Tools,” and “Analysis of Pedestrian Injury Severity Levels for Intersection Crashes in Rural and Small Urban Areas.”  The posters were based on findings from a WTI project to develop a pedestrian safety planning tool, led by Dr. YiYi Wang.

Graduate Student Amir Jamali at TRB Poster Session

WTI Researchers had the opportunity to present research and collaborate with colleagues on topics that included traffic safety culture, crash reduction strategies, unpaved and low volume roads, design features of two-lane highways, transit accessibility, and workforce development:

    • Laura Fay presented “National Updates on Converting Distressed Paved Roads to Engineered Unpaved Roads” at a Lectern Session on Converting Distressed Paved Roads to Engineered Unpaved Roads.  As Host of the 2019 Low Volume Roads conference, she also presented conference updates to the Low Volume Roads Committee, and the Conference Planning subcommittee.
    • Ahmed Al-Kaisy presented on three of his current research topics.  He discussed “Traffic Operations on Rural Two-Lane Highways: A Review on Performance Measures and Indicators” at a session on Uninterrupted Flow; he presented an “Evaluation of Passing Lane Design Configurations on Two-Lane Highways” at a session on Performance-Based Geometric Design: Criteria for Horizontal Curves and Sight Distance; and he discussed an “Investigation of Passing-Lane Effective Length on Two-Lane Highways” at a session on Speed Effects of Highway Design Features.
Kelley Hildebrand-Hall, Laura Fay, Jaime Sullivan, Natalie Villwock-Witte, and Susan Gallagher
  • Nic Ward discussed his research on”ASafe System Approach to Reduce Wrong-Way Driving Crashes on Divided Highways by Applying Access Management and Traffic Safety Culture,” at a poster session on Network Considerations of Access Management.
  • As part of a lectern session on Paratransit, Safety, and Performance-Based Planning: Challenges and Opportunities for Small and Medium-Sized Areas, Jaime Sullivan gave a presentation entitled “On the Road to Zero, We Cannot Ignore Rural.”
  • Susan Gallagher gave presentations on two topics: transit accessibility and transportation workforce development.  She presented “Comparative Approaches to Fostering an Accessible Transportation Environment in the United States and Russia” at a lectern session on Accessible Transit Connectivity and Equity: Local to Global Approaches. She also presented “New Directions for Career Paths in the Maintenance and Operations Workforce” at the Maintenance and Operations Personnel Committee meeting. On the last day of the conference, Susan moderated a break out session during TRB Workshop 873: National Transportation Career Pathways Initiative Stakeholder Engagement: Scoping Transformative Technologies.  Susan’s work in transportation workforce development builds on the initiatives of the West Region Transportation Workforce Center, where she serves as Project Manager.
  • Natalie Villwock-Witte, David Kack, YiYi Wang, and Laura Fay
  • YiYi Wang participated in the ABJ80 Statistical Analysis Committee and judged a doctoral student research competition.

Dates Announced for International Conference on Low Volume Roads

WTI will host the 12th Transportation Research Board (TRB) International Conference on Low Volume Roads on September 15-18, 2019 in Kalispell, Montana. Sponsored by TRB, this conference examines new technologies and new techniques in the planning, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and administration of low-volume roads. Panelists will explore case studies and practical solutions to common problems related to all aspects of low-volume roads.  TRB, which is part of the National Academy of Sciences, announced the dates in its November 20 newsletter. For more information, contact Laura Fay at WTI or Nancy Whiting (nwhiting@nas.edu) at TRB.