USIT student interns present transportation research topics at UT Austin, July 18, 2012
Ten student interns participating in the Undergraduate Summer Internship in Transportation (USIT) at UT Austin presented topics in transportation research, sharing information about work in progress at The University of Texas at Austin. Students, research faculty, and staff at the Cockrell School of Engineering attended the presentation.
Topics presented included analysis of the downtown Austin traffic network, commuter rail collection systems, fuel cost modeling and fuel efficiency, equity models and optimization, travel demand models, signage to inform user choice on alternate routes, and road use costs and user fees.
Students talked about the challenges of sifting data to find useful material to analyze, smartphone apps that could be used to get real-time traffic data on the fly, and pop-up bus stops that exist only as needed, based on riders communicating by phone app to transit providers.
Driver perception was discussed. Studies show that drivers prefer a reliable, predictable travel experience and tend to remember the “worst-case scenarios” of particular roadways more than the times when there is less congestion. Tools and methods to measure travel time reliability are being developed.
User fees, congestion tolling during peak hours, and flat fees are all on the table for tolled roads and tolled lanes (HRT). Other pricing considerations, such as vehicle miles traveled, are being studied. Some studies show that a tolled “premier network” could bring in sufficient revenue to pay for maintenance on the rest of the highway system. Tolling the “Texas Triangle” (highways connecting Austin, Houston, and Dallas-Fort Worth) are also being discussed.
The student interns represent universities from many locations: Bailey Harden (University of Alabama), Garrett Fullerton (University of South Carolina), David Kan (UIUC), Melissa Archer (Arizona State University), Jared Fusilier (McNeese State University), Kimberly Selph (Washington State University), Megan Hoklas (UT Austin), Aliz Logman (Washington State University), Cody Stone (University of Florida), and Jay Chmilewski (University of Maryland).
Each summer, USIT student interns explore transportation research as a potential career. UT Austin professors, Center for Transportation (CTR) researchers, and students present topics of interest as part of USIT. USIT is sponsored by the Advanced Institute for Transportation Infrastructure Engineering and Management, an organization whose mission is to increase the number, quality, and diversity of professionals entering the transportation sector.
Faculty and professional researchers presenting topics of interest this summer are Dr. Zhanmin Zhang, Dr. C. Michael Walton, Rob Harrison, Dr. Kara Kockelman, Dr. Randy B. Machemehl, Dr. Chandra Bhat, Dr. Stephen Boyles, Lisa Loftus-Otway, and Dr. Amit Bhasin.
Students participating in the USIT internship are exposed to active transportation research programs that cover a wide range of topics, including systems analysis, materials, design, management, traffic engineering and planning, modeling, testing, and multimodal systems. USIT is sponsored by the Advanced Institute for Transportation Infrastructure Engineering and Management, an organization whose mission is to increase the number, quality, and diversity of professionals entering the transportation sector.
Many of the transportation research projects discussed at USIT events are conducted through the Center for Transportation Research. UT Austin faculty and student researchers perform the research and produced research reports and products. Much of the work is funded by the Texas Department of Transportation.
Links to More Information
Civil, Architectural & Environmental Engineering (CAEE) at UT Austin