WTI researchers braved heavy snow, transit closures, and the partial government shutdown to attend the 2019 Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. in January. Nonetheless, they had a busy week with many productive opportunities to share their research and collaborate with peers.
A few highlights include:
WTI Director Steve Albert received a certificate of appreciation from the TRB Committee on Transportation Needs of National Parks and Public Lands in recognition of his 12 years of leadership on committee activities.
Three Fellows from the Public Lands Transportation Fellows program had the opportunity to present posters highlighting their current projects:
Corinne Jachelski presented on trail, bicycle, and other alternative transportation upgrades underway at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Colorado.
Dylan Corbin’s poster highlighted his efforts to create a transportation plan that will expand public transportation and alternative transportation access to four sites within the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
Vince Ziols presented on the bicycle network, shuttle services, and water taxis that are enhancing regional access to the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.
Jaime Sullivan’s workshop on the NCHRP Rural Research Roadmap project attracted an audience of more than 70 attendees interested in her progress report on the identification of the most critical research needs related to improving rural transportation. More than 500 research needs displayed on 20 posters inspired a lively discussion.
Karalyn Clouser and Zach Becker, our UTC Students of the Year (read their profiles here), were honored at a banquet during the opening weekend of the TRB meeting. The weather and transportation delays prevented Zach from attending, but Steve Albert and David Kack were on hand to cheer on Karalyn when she received her award.
The 2019 Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting kicked off over the weekend in Washington, D.C. At the Council of University Transportation Center (CUTC) banquet on Saturday, the University Transportation Center (UTC) Students of the Year were honored. Each UTC nominates an outstanding graduate student who receives a certificate from the U.S. Department of Transportation, a $1000 award, and travel expenses to attend the TRB Annual Meeting. The Small Urban and Rural Livability Center (SURLC) and the Small Urban, Rural and Tribal Center on Mobility (SURTCOM), both led by WTI, each had the opportunity to recognize the research accomplishments of an exemplary student this year.
Congratulations to Karalyn Clouser, who was selected as the SURLC Student of the Year. Karalyn has been a Research Associate at WTI for five years and is currently pursuing a Master’s of Sustainable Transportation at the University of Washington. With her background in Planning and GIS, she has provided invaluable research assistance not only to SURLC, but also to the National Center for Rural Road Safety and the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks Technical Assistance Center. Most recently, she completed a project where she developed four different bus route combinations for a potential new transit service in Lebanon, Missouri. She also helped update the Rural ITS Toolkit, a USDOT-sponsored resource on advanced transportation technologies.
Kudos also go out to Zachary Becker who was selected to represent SURTCOM. Zach attends Eastern Washington University, where he is nearing completion of a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning. His research focuses on the mobility and accessibility challenges faced by tribal reservations in northwestern states. He created a parcel-level, GIS database containing network distances from nearly every parcel in Washington state to the nearest healthcare facility. The database compares distances on tribal reservations to distances on nontribal lands. Zach has been invited to present this research at four national conferences.
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!
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/
On November 7, WTI’s new grant from the National Science Foundation was highlighted in a feature article on the Montana State University website. The project will allow WTI’s West Region Transportation Workforce Center, in partnership with MSU’s College of Engineering, to offer a six-week summer program for high school and community college teachers. The program will begin in the summer of 2018 and will educate teachers on rural transportation research topics and will help them develop curricula for their own students.View the Recruiting Flyer Research Experience for Teachers
WTI Road Ecologist Marcel Huijsercontinues to partner with colleagues in Brazil on both research and academic projects. In August, he taught a weeklong course at the University of Sao Paulo (USP) on “Road Ecology and the Conservation of Biodiversity.” His students are studying Wildlife Ecology, Management and Conservation in the Forest Science Department at USP. Over the years, Marcel’s work in Brazil has included teaching, mentoring, international exchanges with Brazilian researchers, presentations to government agencies, and consulting on road development projects.
Marcel Huijser (fifth from left) and students in the Road Ecology course
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.
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.