STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: CHSC Welcomes Jubaer Ahmed

Close-up photo of Graduate Student Jubaer Ahmed
Graduate Student Jubaer Ahmed

Graduate students who are interested in the emerging field of traffic safety culture are finding intriguing research opportunities at the Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC).  Recently, Jubaer Ahmed joined CHSC as a Graduate Student Research Assistant, where he is helping with a project to understand driver beliefs regarding impaired driving for the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission.  With his advisor (and CHSC Director) Nic Ward, Jubaer is also developing a dissertation topic on the relationship between emotional intelligence and traffic safety culture.

Currently working toward a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering, Jubaer holds a Master’s Degree in Logistics, Trade, and Transportation from the University of Southern Mississippi and a Bachelor’s in Industrial Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. He previously worked for Chevron in Bangladesh as a Health and Safety Specialist, which inspired his interest in safety research that will protect people from serious injuries and fatalities.

Jubaer has a packed schedule with his research at CHSC, his position as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, and his Ph.D. studies.  In his spare time, he enjoys hiking and exploring the national parks with his wife and three children.  After seeing snow for the first time last winter, he hopes to add skiing to his future activities!

Student Success: Two WTI students join Professional Staff

When WTI hires and mentors great students, it is a win-win for the organization and for aspiring young professionals. WTI’s two most recent hires both started as part-time student employees while pursuing their undergraduate degrees at Montana State University.

New staff members Dani Hess (Left) and Kelley Hall (Right) ride bikes outside WTI offices in Bozeman, MT
New staff members Dani Hess (Left) and Kelley Hall (Right) ride bikes outside WTI offices in Bozeman, MT

Kelley Hall has been part of the WTI family since 2014. She started as a Student Administrative Assistant, staffing the front desk and helping out in the Business Office.  She progressively added more responsibilities, including assistance on various projects.  After graduating from MSU with a B.A. in Political Science, she joined WTI as a Research Assistant. She currently serves as a Project Assistant in the Road Ecology program, focusing on the Wildlife-Vehicle Collision Data Coordination project for the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  In addition, she serves as a Research Associate for the Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC), managing technology transfer activities and providing support to several projects on traffic safety culture, seat belt use, and underage drinking.

A native of Sheridan, Wyoming, Kelley moved to Bozeman in 2012 as an MSU freshman.  In addition to juggling her many responsibilities at WTI, she loves outdoor sports (both summer and winter) and photography.  Somehow, she has even found time to begin classes toward a Master’s in Public Administration!

Danielle (Dani) Hess was recently named a Project Assistant for mobility projects with the Small Urban and Rural Livability Center and the Small Urban, Rural and Tribal Center on Mobility.  Dani first joined WTI in February 2016 as a student assistant in the Mobility program, helping with community outreach for the Bozeman Commuter project and other local initiatives.  In early May, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Community Health (with Highest Honors!) from MSU and was promoted to a full-time WTI employee. She will now be able to continue her work on the Transportation Demand Management project with the City of Bozeman and the “pop-up” traffic calming projects on local roads.

Dani grew up in Helena, Montana, and has lived in Bozeman for the last five years.  When she is not encouraging people to walk, bike, or take the bus to work, you will probably find her enjoying the outdoors, most likely on her mountain bike.  This summer, she is looking forward to coaching kids with Bozeman Youth Cycling’s summer mountain biking program.

Welcome to the new Public Lands Transportation Fellows (PLTF)

Public Lands Transportation Fellows pose for photo. Mentor Jaime Sullivan, Fellow Corinne Jachelski, Fellow Dylan Corbin, Fellow Vince Ziols and mentor Phil Shapiro (right) at the Bandelier National Monument.
Mentor Jaime Sullivan, Fellow Corinne Jachelski, Fellow Dylan Corbin, Fellow Vince Ziols and mentor Phil Shapiro (right) at the Bandelier National Monument.
The Public Lands Transportation Fellows (PLTF) Program hosted a three-day orientation in late June to welcome its incoming class of participants. Since 2013, the program has offered 11-month fellowships to outstanding masters and doctoral graduates in a transportation-related field. They are assigned to work with staff at a Federal Land Management Agency (FLMA) unit or region/field office facing a transportation issue to facilitate a transportation planning or implementation project. The program (previously known as the Scholars program) is managed at WTI by Jaime Sullivan.

After a competitive application process, three fellows were selected by WTI and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for the 2018-19 year for placements at USFWS sites.Vince Ziolswill work with the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge to improve access for those who want to travel to the refuge by alternative modes of transportation, such as bike and pedestrian modes. At the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge,Corinne Jachelskiwill manage several trail projects and work with community groups to create greater access to recreation opportunities and improve visitor experience. Dylan Corbin will assist with several projects at the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex, including updating the Complex’s Transportation Plan, serving as a liaison for several transportation improvement projects, and expanding free and low-cost access to refuge sites.

For the orientation, the fellows traveled to Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Albuquerque, New Mexico for presentations and workshops that will prepare them for a successful work and fellowship experience within their USFWS refuge unit. Presenters included USFWS staff, program mentors, and numerous former fellows, who covered topics ranging from building strong partnerships to writing successful grant applications to developing effective marketing campaigns. The fellows also had the opportunity to explore Valle de Oro NWR, Bandelier National Monument, and Petroglyph National Monument.

For more information, visit the PLTF Program page on the WTI website.
Logo banner for the Public Lands Transportation Fellows Program managed by WTI

Congratulations, Graduates!

WTI was well-represented at the Montana State University graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 5.  Congratulations to Amir Jafari, Ph.D., and Amir Jamali, Ph.D., who were awarded their doctorates in Engineering. Both students conducted transportation research at WTI during their graduate studies, under the mentorship of Dr. Ahmed Al-Kaisy and Dr. Yiyi Wang. Best of luck from everyone at WTI!

Amir Jamali, Yiyi Wang, Ahmed Al-Kaisy, and Amir Jafari

MSU Video Shows Students “Crushing it” in the Research Lab

Professor Mike Berry and his students had the opportunity to show off their efforts to develop and test ultra-high performance concrete in a Montana State University (MSU) feature article and video published on the MSU website last week.  The research stems from a collaboration between the Montana Department of Transportation, MSU College of Engineering, and WTI to formulate an affordable version of ultra-high performance concrete with materials available in Montana.  In the video, Berry also discusses how the research has allowed many students to gain valuable “hands-on” experience testing the strength and durability of construction materials in the lab.  The story also gained national attention last week when it was featured in the Daily Transportation Update of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).  The article, photos, and video are available on the MSU website, and more project information is available on the project’s webpage.

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.

Summer Campers Set Sail with Montana Governor

Montana Governor Steve Bullock (center) with STC students at Gates of the Mountain
Montana Governor Steve Bullock (center) with STC students at Gates of the Mountain

At WTI’s annual Summer Transportation Camp (STC), student participants were treated to not one, but two special opportunities to meet and spend time with Montana Governor Steve Bullock.  During a morning tour of the Montana Department of Transportation in Helena, the Governor greeted the group and answered questions on transportation and other issues. Later that afternoon, the campers boarded a boat tour of the Gates of the Mountain canyon, and to their surprise, the “celebrity guest” captain for the day was Governor Bullock!

Each year, WTI hosts the Summer Transportation Camp, a two-week program for high school students to encourage pre-college interest in transportation careers and enhance their academic and professional development skills.  During the camp, students live on the Montana State University campus, and participate in a comprehensive academic program, field trips, a career and college counseling component, as well as team-building and sports and recreation activities.

STC student teams test the strength of the balsa wood bridges they constructed
STC student teams test the strength of the balsa wood bridges they constructed

This year, 19 students from across Montana attended the camp.  In addition to the exciting day in Helena with the Governor, other activities this year included a “CSI” themed class with a crash scene investigator from the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB), a coding project with MSU Computer Science graduate students, a tour of the Gallatin Field airport, and the always popular team competition to build and test balsa wood bridges.

Read more about the Summer Transportation Camp, and WTI’s other educational programs.  

 

MSU Students take Presentation Awards at I-HEEP Conference

The Highway Engineering Exchange Program (HEEP) is an international organization that promotes advances in transportation engineering through the exchange of knowledge and information technology. The 2016 International HEEP Conference was held September 11-15 in Helena, Montana.

HEEP offers a student competition with cash prizes as part of its Educator Student Participation Program (ESP). Maia Grudzien, an MSU undergraduate in Civil Engineering mentored by Computer Science faculty member Brittany Fasy, took home the top student prize of $1,000 for her presentation on “Safer Roads Tomorrow through Analyzing Today’s Accidents.” Sam Micka, a PhD student in Computer Science mentored by faculty advisor Brendan Mumey, received the second place award of $750 for his presentation on “Efficient Monitor Placement for Multipath Traffic Flows.”

Student presenters provide a 20 minute presentation before the general meeting audience and a judging panel during the IHEEP annual conference. Presenters are evaluated based on their understanding of the subject, the strength of their oral presentations, effective use of presentation aids, professional appearance and demeanor, and their interactions with the audience. Congratulations to our two MSU award winners and their faculty mentors!

Workforce Center Co-sponsors STEM Event

The West Region Transportation Workforce Center, which is housed at WTI, partnered with the Montana Girls STEM Collaborative to co-sponsor and co-organize a Girls STEM Collaboration Forum held at MSU on Thursday, May 19. WTI’s Susan Gallagher presented at the forum, which brought together over 50 formal and informal STEM educators, including representatives from museums, science centers, 4-H, libraries, and afterschool programs. The forum was focused on improving transportation industry collaborations with informal educators and sharing resources to build the STEM talent pipeline. Activities included a girls panel, an industry panel, networking and collaboration opportunities, and presentations and sharing of free transportation and other STEM outreach content and materials. Industry representatives from MDT, FHWA, KLJ, Sanderson Stewart, and NTSB participated in the panel discussion, which focused on what industry representatives can offer to help build out-of-school STEM programming, industry experiences with implementing successful outreach efforts, and what barriers exist or additional resources are needed to build productive education/industry collaborations.