June 18, 2015
The third annual University-wide Scholars’ Insights competition, an event based on the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) research competition developed by the University of Queensland, took place on May 6. Jennifer Warner, a civil engineering MS student advised by Dr. David Hurwitz was awarded second place for her presentation “Out of Sight, Out of Mind…Right-Hook Crash Solutions”. The presentation was based on Jennifer’s research in the OSU Driving Simulator evaluating a variety of design treatments to mitigate right-hook crashes. Congratulations Jennifer! Jennifer successfully defended her MS Thesis and will be moving to Pennsylvania to start her career as a transportation engineer with Stantec.
June 17, 2015
Emily Feenstra, Director for Infrastructure Initiatives of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), spoke at the PacTrans-sponsored Transportation Seminar on June 4. Her talk, “The Case for Engaging in Public Policy – Your Projects Depend on It,” related the current status of infrastructure funding, how ASCE has engaged in the policy debate, and the importance of engineers’ involvement in policy.
Making infrastructure visible is a main priority for ASCE, explained Feenstra. Often, the public does not notice the aging infrastructure, in part due to the slow – and undramatic – nature of deterioration. ASCE aims for infrastructure to be as high a priority as health care and education, and one step toward this goal is communicating ASCE’s Report Card for America’s Infrastructure (Report Card).
The Report Card provides an assessment of current infrastructure conditions and needs, assigning grades in an A to F school report card format, and makes recommendations on how to raise these grades. With America’s cumulative GPA for infrastructure at a D+ in 2013, Feenstra demonstrated the need for increased investment. By investing an additional $157 billion per year through 2020, the country can prevent a $3.1 trillion loss in GDP, $3.5 million job losses, and a $3,100 per year drop in personal disposable income per household.
To improve the Report Card, Feenstra offered three key solutions: bold leadership and a compelling vision, sustainability and resilience, and prioritize, plan and fund. Several issues at the national level, however, remain important to consider, including infrastructure spending decreasing relative to other countries, and the looming insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund.
Feenstra suggested a host of ways civil engineers can get involved. To influence policy and issue awareness, Feenstra proposed engineers share their state’s infrastructure report card through social media, host an infrastructure event, or tweet questions to state legislators and members of congress.
Feenstra’s talk clearly broadens PacTrans students’ knowledge by introducing the policy side of projects.
June 15, 2015
PacTrans is proud to sponsor the ITS America Symposium on Building a Smart, Diverse, and Shared Travel Network. Technology is advancing traveler mobility at an unprecedented rate, and Seattle and the Puget Sound region are leading the way in the adoption and deployment of many shared-use transportation options. From the new Pronto cycle sharing system, to the region’s evolving transit environment, infrastructure improvements and more, technology is making the commute faster, smarter and more efficient for the traveling public.
For more information and to register, read on.
June 11, 2015
On May 26, PacTrans welcomed transportation professionals from Japan as part of an international exchange to share best practices in data, organizational collaboration, and road management. Kenji Saita, Assistant Manager, West Nippon Express Company (NEXCO), and Seishu Kitamura, Senior Researcher and Kzuhiko Makimura, Deputy Director, both of the Institute of Behavioral Sciences, visited the PacTrans STAR Lab to learn about the center’s work in intelligent transportation systems (ITS).
The group discussed the different types of traffic detectors employed by Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and those under development at the University of Washington, and ways to navigate the privacy concerns of data collection in Japan.
PacTrans, Washington State Transportation Center (TRAC), and WSDOT have a history of close collaboration. Doug Brodin, WSDOT Research Manager for ITS, Traffic and Congestion, and Freight, emphasized the importance of the long-term relationships with PacTrans and TRAC and considered it the key in the successful collaborative efforts between WSDOT and universities, which is visible in the many PacTrans intern students working in WSDOT.
Dr. Yinhai Wang, PacTrans director, highlighted the center’s interest in international collaborations and potential future partnership with NEXCO and IBS and the Japanese delegation responded very positively.
June 10, 2015
PacTrans joined University Transportation Center representatives from across the nation for the 2015 Council of University Transportation Centers Summer Meeting, June 1-4 in Brunswick, New Jersey. Held at Rutgers, the event brought transportation and university professionals and administrators together to share best practices and success stories to advance research, education, and development in the transportation field.