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Workforce Development

With population, urbanization, and the need for infrastructure expansion and renewal projected to increase over the next several decades, the demand for transportation professionals could become more acute. If the needs of a growing society that is increasingly dependent on a functioning transportation system are to be met, steps must be taken to motivate students to choose transportation as a career. A highly qualified workforce is very important to state DOTs, local communities, and the private sector.

Georgia Transportation Institute, Georgia Institute of Technology (from unpublished report on Georgia Institute of Technology's UTC project “Transportation Engineers of the Future" submitted to UTC program office October 2008)

Website for UTC

University of Michigan's M-CASTL web page
M-CASTL, University of Michigan
The University of Michigan's M-CASTL website includes information about Center activities, resources, and research proposals as well as a program of interactive web-based modules on mobility and safety education.

Michigan Center for Advancing Safe Transportation Throughout the Lifespan (M-CASTL), University of Michigan

The construction of a website ( provided M-CASTL with visibility and the means to disseminate information to help ensure that resources and information about Center activities are available to M-CASTL staff, the public, researchers submitting proposals, advisory board and executive committee members, and interested colleagues.

The website interface allows staff to easily update the site by adding new text, photographs, video, and webpages. As the Center has grown over the past year, the website has been continually updated to reflect changes. Following the successful hosting of M-CASTL's first annual Transportation Research and Education Conference, for example, videos and slides were added. Once items have been added, the content is automatically fit to the website template.

As part of M-CASTL's global education program, interactive web-based modules will be featured on the website with the aim of providing information about issues related to the safety and mobility of young and older drivers. Users will be able to learn at their own pace by moving through the entire program of modules.

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Integrating a Service Learning Approach to Transportation Education

Students in front of bus
Mike Bray
These students are participating in a project to develop evaluation tools related to Lane Transit District's Emerald Express (EmX) Bus Rapid Transit System in the Eugene-Springfield area.

Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC), University of Oregon

Educating future transportation workers is as much a part of OTREC's mission as is conducting research. At OTREC, service learning is a widely used educational model that provides teams of students with hands-on experience in developing products for real-world clients. Recent projects have included a student-led evaluation of the City of Eugene's 4J School District travel behavior, aimed at reducing automobile trips and charting a more walkable community, and work that culminated in the development of the new Eugene Pedestrian and Bicycle strategic plan. A report summarizing the experiential service learning approach and the Strategic Plan can be found at

The service learning approach will also be used in an upcoming project to study the bus rapid transit system in the Lane County Transit District. Combined teams of first-year students managed by second-year graduate students have produced high-quality work for local municipalities and in some cases have also contributed to scholarly research objectives. This is a unique model that OTREC can offer to the nation.

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Guide to Transportation Funding Options: New Website

Texas A&M University's website
UTCM, Texas A&M University
The new website helps transportation experts by compiling the funding options available throughout the country and includes links to projects that are utilizing them.

Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), Texas A&M University

To help transportation leaders and policymakers obtain the information and data that they need to make funding decisions, researchers at the Texas Transportation Institute developed a concise, user-friendly website, A Guide to Transportation Funding Options (TFO). TFO describes the array of such options available throughout the country and includes links to projects that are utilizing them.

In the first phase of the project, highway funding was examined; subsequent phases will focus on other modes of surface transportation. In the next phase, researchers at the Institute's Transit Mobility Program plan to develop a similar website for mass transit.

TFO site developers encourage feedback and contributions of material by other transportation-funding experts. For more information, visit

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September 11th Memorial Program: Academic Initiative

University Transportation Research Center (UTRC2) City College of City University of New York

UTRC2 provides significant support for the September 11th Memorial Program for Regional Transportation Planning on behalf of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC), the MPO for the New York City region. The initiative fosters the academic and professional development of students from UTRC
Consortium schools by providing opportunities to participate in innovative research and planning projects. NYMTC established the program in 2005 to honor the memory of three of its employees who died during the attack on the World Trade Center. Thirteen students participated during the first three years of the program, and five additional candidates have been selected for the fourth year.

At the outset of the application process, NYMTC solicits internship possibilities from its nine members. Supervision is provided by sponsoring-agency staff to ensure that project outcomes are customized to meet the goals and objectives of both the agency and the region. Students are paid a monthly stipend funded by NYMTC in addition to receiving tuition grants.

The accomplishments since the program's inception reflect the wide range of regional benefits gained through students' efforts as well as the array of work products. The projects exemplify collaboration with clients and users, addressing critical transportation issues and creative problem-solving.

Examples of students' research and internship projects are listed below.

Completed Research (Years 1–3) Agency Beneficiary
Time-of-day pricing strategies to develop better transit-management strategies in Westchester County Westchester County DOT
Transit services for older adults in Westchester County Westchester County DOT
Relationship between built environment and time-of-day ridership patterns at subway stations Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Parking regulations and supply/demand issues in NYMTC region NYMTC
Optimal incentive structures for encouraging diesel retrofits New York City (NYC) DOT
Identification and modeling of next-generation travel guidance systems New York State DOT
Participation in NYCDOT West Side Manhattan traffic and transportation study NYCDOT
Development of five-part strategy to formalize NYMTC's data-management practices NYMTC
Examination of NYMTC's shared goals and procedures, resulting in forum "Good to Go: Transit Options for Older Adults" NYMTC
Coordination of human services–public transit planning NYMTC
Pedestrian and traffic-safety planning NYCDOT
Mobile-source-emissions reduction planning NYMTC

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Transportation Scholars Program

Midwest Transportation Consortium (MTC), Iowa State University

MTC is committed to educating the next generation of transportation professionals. At the heart of this mission is the Transportation Scholars Program for graduate students in transportation-related degree programs such as civil engineering and community and regional planning.

Since 1999, MTC has supported 20 to 30 students annually as research assistants. These student researchers work with transportation faculty on real-world projects, preparing them to interact with transportation professionals in their careers. Academic requirements include enrollment in the Transportation Seminar and participation in the annual Transportation Scholars Conference and paper competition.

Transportation Seminar. The Transportation Seminar, held each spring semester, features nationally and internationally recognized speakers. Topics covered in the 2008 seminar included safety corridors, rapid concrete replacement, highway safety, human factors research, and MPOs. The seminar is broadcast in real time over the Internet, allowing students at remote sites to participate actively.

Transportation Scholars Conference. Students at all MTC member schools are invited to submit their original research papers to the Transportation Scholars Conference, held each year at Iowa State University. The papers are judged by an outside panel, and the author of the best paper is awarded a cash prize of $1,000.

MTC Scholar of the Year. An MTC Scholar of the Year is chosen on the basis of outstanding research and scholarship. Award recipients have gone on to successful careers in transportation. The 2003 Scholar of the Year, Jamie Tunnell Bents, now a transportation planner at Snyder & Associates in Ankeny, Iowa, describes her experience: "The Scholar of the Year designation helped me step up my studies and research and pushed me to better focus on my future career. The MTC allowed me to meet more professionals in the transportation sector and helped me decide how I wanted to fit into the sector after graduation."

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Competency Model for the Recruitment, Retention, and Development of Intermodal Transportation Workers

National Center for Intermodal Transportation (NCIT), University of Denver and Mississippi State University

Faced with a possible shortage of qualified professionals in the next 10 years, the transportation industry has held "workforce summits" to identify workforce development needs of state DOTs and transit agencies. However, no similar effort has been made to address specific needs of the intermodal industry.

The goal of this project is to create a valid model of managerial and executive competencies needed to recruit, assess, train, and develop the executives and managers who will guide the intermodal transportation industry. To provide a conceptual basis for the research, NCIT convened a one-day workshop for human resource executives in the intermodal industry in February 2008. Attendees identified nine key competency areas needed to produce high-functioning employees in the industry:

  • Strategic Thinking
  • Leadership Skills
  • Analytical Skills
  • Marketing Skills
  • Technical Skills
  • Business Management Skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Financial Skills
  • Cultural Awareness Training

Based on this framework, data collection will further delineate the behavioral indicators and benchmarks needed to successfully assess these competencies. The final result will be a tool that can identify the training and development needs of current and future transportation workers.

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Use of Campus "Smart" Buses as a Tool for Empirical Education and Research

Ohio Transportation Consortium (OTC), University of Akron

Ohio State University's (OSU) Campus Area Bus System (CABS) incorporates a smart-bus system that offers advanced automatic vehicle location (AVL) and automated passenger-counting (APC) capabilities. The system provided the impetus to develop a unique infrastructure for education and research, the OSU Campus Transit Lab (CTL).

In this project, investigators designed educational demonstrations and exercises based on CTL data, identifying three ideas for implementation in the curriculum:

  • Use of empirical space-time vehicle trajectories, collected with the CTL AVLsystem, to illustrate traffic concepts. Theoretical trajectories are currently used.
  • Use of passenger data, collected from the CTL APC system, and headway, dwelltime, and travel-time data, from the AVL system, for calculations of empiricalpassenger-travel times. Travel-time calculations currently rely on hypothetical values.
  • Use of passenger-boarding and -alighting data to investigate effects on the lengthof bus-dwell times at stops. These data are currently collected manually.

The first two ideas would be incorporated into a large undergraduate transportation-engineering course, while the latter concept would be presented in a smaller, graduate-undergraduate elective public transportation course. Empirical data were collected to test the identified ideas. Because the CTL had not yet been implemented, data were collected manually; however, they are similar to data that will be available from the CTL system. Researchers are exploring potential uses of the unique data for educational activities at partner universities.

This research project involves the collaborative efforts of OSU Transportation and Parking Services and Clever Devices, Inc.

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Global Transportation Supply-Chain Management: Building a Global Network of Scholars and Educators

Intermodal Transportation Institute (ITI) and University Transportation Center (UTC), University of Toledo

Research on global supply-chain management/transportation efficiency systems is critical to U.S. competitiveness. With the expansion of international trade, the necessity of bringing together ideas, approaches, and solutions for the transportation that supports this flow of goods is vital to the United States and its trading partners. In one year, researchers have brought together more than 100 faculty members, researchers, and transportation practitioners in two international symposia, representing more than 20 universities in seven countries.

Global supply-chain management integrates information, material, and cash-flow processes across all functions, including sourcing, operations, return and recycling, and logistics and planning, for all partners. Supply-chain system professionals are the agents of change for e-business, manufacturing, high-tech, service, and consulting companies.

The objectives of the UTC project are (1) to engage an international network of research collaborators to identify, analyze, and solve complex transportation and supply-chain problems and communicate solutions for successful implementation, and (2) to develop educational and training programs that meet the needs of transportation, logistics, and supply-chain professionals around the world.

The first International Symposium and Workshop on Global Supply Chain, Intermodal Transportation, and Logistics Management was attended by over 80 academics, transportation practitioners, and students. The second symposium, held in Busan, Korea, in May 2008, brought together 64 researchers to discuss ideas, build partnerships, and identify specific actions that will foster future collaborations. Future meetings are planned in India (January 2009), Madrid (2009), and Spain (2010).

The 3rd National Urban Freight Conference took place in October 2008 and provided a unique opportunity for collaboration. METRANS also sponsored a one-day workshop of UTC researchers and other stakeholders in conjunction with the Midwest Regional UTC.

Additional funding for this project was provided by the University of Toledo College of Business Administration; Bowling Green State University; University of Detroit-Mercy; Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute; Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority; Business and International Education Grant (funded by the U.S. Department of Education); Pusan National University; Korean Society of Supply Chain Management; Korea Research Foundation; and Korea Science and Engineering Foundation; and International Cargo Handling Coordination Association, LLC (London).

UTC Website:

Integrating Transportation Technology and New Educational Paradigms

National Institute for Advanced Transportation Technology (NIATT), University of Idaho

NIATT is recognized for its focus on real-world skills centered on practical applications and fieldwork. In the last 10 years, NIATT has maintained a close link between the development of new transportation technology and its integration into the classroom setting.

In 1998, NIATT met a challenge from FHWA to develop a new technology, the Controller Interface Device (CID), which directly links real traffic controllers with microsimulation models in a process known as hardware-in-the-loop simulation. Two years later, NIATT initiated the annual Traffic Signal Summer Workshop, a one-week, hands-on experience with traffic control systems based on the CID. Since 2000, the workshop has been attended by students from around the country, and the CID has been used by more than 40 organizations.

The success of the CID and the Traffic Signal Summer Workshop led to a project to develop a new traffic-signal workshop that could be delivered across the United States. The NIATT team developed a simulation infrastructure known as software-in the- loop simulation, as well as a laboratory curriculum that will be delivered to FHWA in January 2009 after extensive testing.

Another project involves researching the incorporation of learning methods into the introductory (junior-level) transportation-engineering course. This topic, along with learning objectives and new ways to share the curriculum electronically, will be the focus of a national conference in June 2009.

A project to continue developing technology applications for transportation education began in September 2008. Through the Regional X Transportation Consortium, a collaborative team, led by NIATT, will develop and test four 10-week modules that will be delivered by distance-education methods to university students and state DOT staff in the Pacific Northwest.

Additional funding for these projects was provided by the UTC program, FHWA, PTV America (Portland, Oregon), Econolite Traffic Control Products (Anaheim, California), McCain Traffic Supply (Vista, California), and the Region X Transportation Consortium.

Joe Marencik in classroom Professor Chin Kuo giving lecture to class
Cleveland State University Cleveland State University
CSU's summer teachers conference K-12 teachers learn from Shaker heights physics teacher, Joe Marencik, how high-school math and physics courses can easily be adapted to include engineering applications. The wind tunnel in this demonstration was purchased with Garrett Morgan program funds. Professor Chin Kuo discusses basics of hydrology and flooding with K-12 teachers regarding New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina at CSU's summer teachers conference.

Teaching Engineering in the K-12 Classroom: Summer Conference

Cleveland State University Transportation Center (CSU-UTC), Cleveland State University

To address the perceived faltering of interest in engineering careers, CSU-UTC held a three-day Engineering Education Summer Conference for K-12 educators. The intent was to bridge the gap between the educators and engineering faculty. Twentythree teachers and administrators from nine districts throughout Ohio and Michigan learned firsthand how they could teach engineering and plant seeds of awareness regarding careers as transportation professionals.

At the conference, the Shaker Heights City School District offered its preengineering program, the Engineering Applications Course, as a model to demonstrate how a standard physics and advanced mathematics curriculum could easily be adapted to include engineering applications such as wind tunnels, propeller design, slot cars, and robotics.

Teachers attended presentations and engaged in discussions with engineering faculty on topics ranging from GPS to biomedical research at the Cleveland Clinic. Participants also were given a tour of the Great Lakes Science Center.

Additional funding for the conference was obtained from the Garrett A. Morgan Technology and Transportation Education Program.

UTC Website:

Transportation Research and Education Conference

Michigan Center for Advancing Safe Transportation Throughout the Lifespan (M-CASTL), University of Michigan

M-CASTL held its first annual Transportation Research and Education Conference in May 2008 at the University of Michigan, bringing together a diverse group of researchers and professionals with an interest in the safety and mobility of young and older-adult drivers. Keynote addresses were given by Dr. Bruce Simons-Morton from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development ("The Young Driver Problem: Causes and Solutions") and Jacqui Smith from the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research ("Functional Diversity Is a Fundamental Characteristic of Aging: Implications for a Changing Society"). Panel discussions focused on young-driver distraction and drowsiness, technology to improve driving for young and older drivers, driving and dementia, and transitioning from driving to nondriving options.

Signifying a wide variety of backgrounds and interests, the conference was attended by professionals from MDOT, the Michigan State Police, the Office of Highway Safety Planning, the Office of the Secretary of State, AAA Michigan, the Ann Arbor Veterans Administration Medical Center, and automobile-industry representatives.

The conference provided a valuable opportunity for participants to learn about groundbreaking research in the area of safety and mobility, to discuss practical applications for professionals working in the field, and to identify future research needs.

Additional funding for this conference came from AAA of Michigan; Access Mobility Center, ADED-The Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists; Advantage Mobility Outfitters; Driving Evaluation, Education, and Research (DEER) Center; and Munson Medical Center.

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First Annual Student Conference on Transportation and Congestion

Center for Multimodal Solutions for Congestion Mitigation (CMS), University of Florida

CMS held its First Annual Student Conference in March 2008. The conference showcased projects from eight CMS-affiliated graduate students from the University of Florida, departments of civil engineering, industrial and systems engineering, occupational therapy, and urban and regional planning. Presentations were made on the following topics related to transportation and congestion:

  • "Breakdown Probability Model at Freeway Ramp Merges Based on Driver Behavior"
  • "Optimal Dynamic Pricing Strategies for High Occupancy/Toll (HOT) Lanes"
  • "Enhancing Traffic Crash Data with Supplemental Collection Systems"
  • "Complexity Analysis of Network Flow Problem with Arc Reversals"
  • "Modeling the Departure-Time Choice for Home-to-Work Commute Travel"
  • "Discrete-Time Dynamic Traffic Assignment Model for Managed Lanes"
  • "A Method for Predicting Network Distance Using Network Shortest Distance and Spatial Interpolation"
  • "Florida as a Model State for Older Drivers"

The conference was attended by University of Florida faculty, students, and staff and transportation professionals from FDOT, the City of Gainesville, and various consulting firms.

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