Dr. Ed McCormack
Ed McCormack headshot
Research Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Washington State Transportation Center (TRAC)
Director, Sustainable Transportation Master's degree program
Wilson Ceramics Lab 108
Research Areas: 
  • Freight Mobility in Urban Areas
  • Transportation Technology Evaluation
  • Freight Systems Performance Measurement
Current Research: 

Dr. Ed McCormack's research program is broadly around the theme of the use of technology to improve mobility for people and goods. Improved data storage, wireless communications, and faster computers have created new streams of high quality transportation information. This information allows operators and the public to be more strategic and efficient about using our transportation system but also requires new thinking and innovative approaches. Given the belief in our society that technology can solve many problems, one challenge that he frequently addresses in his research is elemental: what works? For example, his research has evaluated the application and usability of different in-vehicle tracking technologies and of freight-oriented traveler information systems.

A second topic of importance is his recent research—derived from his interest in technology—that explores the development of quantitative tools that can use streaming data. Many of his projects have used these data to create performance measures that allow the monitoring of vehicle travel activity and the calculation of metrics that support engineering and planning decisions.

He has increasingly focused on freight mobility. Despite freight’s obvious importance to our society, this area of transportation has traditionally been understudied by academics, particularly in comparison to people transportation. As a researcher, he has found that there are opportunities to provide innovative insights in this area.

  • Faculty Appreciation for Career Education & Training (FACET) Award for mentoring of students (2020)
Professional Service: 
  • Professor (II), Department of Civil and Transport Engineering, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Adjunct Research Associate Professor, Urban Design and Planning, University of Washington

Dr. Ed McCormack is an international leader in truck GPS data applications for freight performance measurement, and technology that facilitates truck flows along roadways and through border crossings and marine ports. He developed methods for the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Norwegian government to measure truck speed and reliability performance on highways and roads through the analysis of truck GPS data. He recently served as the Chief Engineer in the ITS section of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration.

He holds a PhD in Geography, MS in Civil Engineering, and a BA in Geography—all from the University of Washington. Before working at UW, he was an engineering consultant with David Evans and Associates and a transportation planner with both King County and the Puget Sound Regional Councils. 

Dr. McCormack has worked on National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board (TRB) projects to identify and improve truck bottlenecks, incorporate smart growth principles into freight forecasting tools, and help public agencies obtain freight data and turn it into valuable information. 

He is an independent evaluator for U.S. Department of Transportation freight technology projects, including those addressing truck queuing and congestion. He is directs and teaches in the Sustainable Transportation Master's degree program and Livable Communities certificate program.

  • Ph.D., Geography, University of Washington (1997)
    Dissertation: A Chained-Based Exploration of Work Travel by Residents of Mixed Land-Use Neighborhoods
  • M.S., Civil Engineering, University of Washington (1985)
    Thesis: An Examination of Transit’s Work-Share Using Census Journey–to-Work and Transit On-Board Survey Data
  • B.S.E., Geography, University of Washington (1979)

Questions and Answers

  • What is your hometown and favorite food?

    I grew up in the San Juan Islands, Washington, and I enjoy fresh seafood.

  • What has been a highlight of being a faculty member at the UW SCTL?

    They are good people and it’s a dynamic program.

  • What research projects are you working on?

    I’m on a team developing a prototype national freight model. I’m serving as an independent evaluator for U.S. Department of Transportation on their Freight Advanced Traveler Information System (FRATIS) pilot in Texas. I’m in Norway quite a bit this summer, for fun as well as working with the Norwegian Government to develop data driven tools for monitoring truck performance on roadways. We’ve developed analytic tools to manage very large quantities of truck GPS data, and support users of the new USDOT National Performance Management Research Data Set (NPMRDS). And I’m studying how truck operations impact pedestrians and bicyclists with the PacTrans Regional University Transportation Center.