Safe-D, ATLAS Internship Program Under Way at TTI
Nine undergraduate students from various backgrounds with an interest in transportation safety have been selected for a unique, 10-week summer internship with TTI as part of the Advancing Transportation Leadership and Safety (ATLAS) and Safety Through Disruption (Safe-D) University Transportation Centers.
“Safe-D research projects over the next five years will focus on those transportation disruption areas that include automation, connectivity, transportation as a service and big data analytics,” explains Sue Chrysler, TTI senior research scientist and Safe-D associate director.
The undergraduate students, who hail from Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Puerto Rico, are paired with a TTI mentor and will get hands-on experience assisting with a research project. They’ll also be responsible for writing a technical paper and producing a professional poster about the project. TTI Associate Research Scientist Laura Higgins runs the summer internship for both Safe-D and ATLAS.
“I was in a terrible car accident a few years ago and suffered a lot of physical trauma,” says Christian Estela, a senior industrial engineering major at Texas A&M University and one of the summer interns. “Taking a human factors class really opened my eyes to transportation safety. As soon as I saw this internship opportunity, I knew it was right for me.”
“Transportation safety is a very complicated subject,” Robert Wunderlich, director of TTI’s Center for Transportation Safety and ATLAS associate director, told the students. “It’s going to take different perspectives to really make improvements. The challenge is big. And we are really glad that you are here to help us with that. We hope this experience will inspire you.”
TTI’s SEC Lab Receives Prestigious International Recognition
TTI’s Sediment and Erosion Control Laboratory (SEC Lab) was awarded the Environmental Excellence Award during the International Erosion Control Association (IECA) annual conference and expo in Atlanta, Ga., Feb. 22. As IECA’s premiere recognition, the Environmental Excellence Award “recognizes an outstanding stormwater and erosion and/or sediment control project, program or operation that demonstrates excellence in natural resource conservation and environmental protection.”
“This is a true honor because everyone in our industry is familiar with the award and knows its significance,” says TTI Assistant Research Scientist Jett McFalls, who manages the SEC Lab.
Established in 1990, the SEC Lab covers 19 acres at Texas A&M University’s RELLIS Campus and includes indoor rain simulators, a sediment retention device flume and a variable slope channel flume. Other equipment includes a 2,800-square-foot climate-controlled greenhouse and a small-footprint stormwater quality structure.
McFalls credits the Texas Department of Transportation for its environmental efforts and its ongoing support of the SEC Lab.
“This award for TTI’s SEC Lab is long overdue,” Michael Harding, a well-known and respected environmental scientist and former IECA president, says. He nominated the lab for the award. “The lab is top notch and has set the standard for the industry. It truly is a game changer and needed to be recognized for its leadership in erosion control and its contributions to the environment.”
Texas House Recognizes TTI’s Teens in the Driver Seat Program
On May 12, the Texas House of Representatives adopted House Resolution 1949, a resolution recognizing the contributions made to teen driving safety by TTI’s Teens in the Driver Seat (TDS) program. Launched in 2002 by TTI and sponsored by the Texas Department of Transportation, State Farm Insurance and others, the program has now reached over 1,000 Texas junior high and high schools and served more than 1.3 million students nationwide, including students in Georgia, Colorado, California and Nebraska.
“We are proud of our program’s progress over the past 15 years, but we still lose too many teens (and other roadway users) to preventable tragedies,” says Russell Henk, manager of TTI’s Youth Transportation Safety Program and TDS founder. “Our job isn’t done.”
About 2,800 U.S. teens die each year in car crashes. Since TDS was founded, the program has won more than 20 local, state and national awards and is recognized as a national best practice program for teen driver safety. During that same period, Texas has seen a 70 percent decrease in the frequency of fatal crashes involving 15- to 17-year-old drivers to date.
“TDS is an excellent example of how our researchers put research into practice and make a difference,” says TTI Agency Director Greg Winfree. “Started in Texas, the program, which has saved countless teen lives, is now embraced around the country. We couldn’t be more proud of Russell, his colleagues in TDS, and all they’ve accomplished to protect our children.”
TTI Partners with University of Maryland on Major FHWA Project
TTI will assist in a multi-million dollar Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) project that provides states and regional agencies with data and tools to better manage their roadways. On the project led by the University of Maryland’s Center for Advanced Transportation Technology Laboratory and transportation analytics company INRIX, TTI will help integrate INRIX data with road characteristics and traffic counts collected by state departments of transportation. KMJ Consulting, Inc., is also a partner and will provide customer support and aid in project management. Shawn Turner, head of TTI’s Mobility Division, leads the project for the Institute.
The project team recently took over management of the National Performance Management Research Data Set, which includes data collected from GPS-enabled mobile devices such as smartphones and navigation devices to highlight high-congestion areas and other transportation information so that state agencies can improve mobility. As part of the five-year project, user-friendly web-based tools will be developed and maintained so state departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations can easily access the information.
TTI Receives Green Business Award
On May 17, TTI received the Green Business Award from the Keep Brazos Beautiful (KBB) organization during its annual awards luncheon. The Green Business Award “is given to a local business that incorporates green practices, consciously conserves resources or demonstrates environmental stewardship.”
KBB pointed to TTI’s research project that studies the activity, fuel consumption and emissions of the Texas A&M University bus fleet. A team of researchers from TTI’s Environment and Air Quality Division, headed up by TTI Senior Research Engineer Joe Zietsman, is working in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the project. The bus study is part of the Campus Transportation Technology Initiative.
“It is an honor for our team to be recognized by the community, especially by Keep Brazos Beautiful,” Zietsman said. “Awards like this one let our group know that the work we do is worthy of recognition, and our efforts to improve the environment in which we live are important to all of us.”