Boyles Teaches New Undergraduate Course on Data Analysis
Dr. Stephen Boyles introduced a new undergraduate course in spring 2015 titled “Optimization Techniques in Transportation Engineering.” This course provides a survey of optimization and operations research techniques, but placed in the context of transportation engineering and using transportation source problems to motivate and demonstrate these ideas. This course was extremely well-received, with an evaluation of 4.9 on a 5-point scale. This course is an upper-division technical elective, typically taken during the senior year, and covers basic linear, nonlinear, and network optimization, with applications in transportation. Boyles emphasized the process of formulating optimization problems, and comparing alternative ways to represent the same engineering problem—a vital skill for students who have learned a number of tools and are beginning to synthesize them for information extraction from data.
This type is course is becoming more essential as transportation-related data, historically difficult to obtain, is becoming far easier to access via new sensing technologies. The optimization models make it easier to use the enormous amount of information available in Big Data sources. Boyles anticipates teaching this course regularly in the future, likely every other year. This initial course generated these student reports:
- Vehicle Routing Problem with Genetic Algorithm for Urban Freight Distribution
- Computing the Fastest Route between Two Points of Interest on the UT Campus
- Optimizing Travel Trips
- Coffee and Cash: An Optimization Perspective on the Right Balance for a College Student
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