TTI Signs Agreements with Transportation Research Institutes in Greece
During the week of July 1, TTI signed memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with both the Hellenic Institute of Transport (HIT) at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh) and the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA). The purpose of the two agreements is to jointly collaborate in advancing transportation research, technology transfer and education to enhance mobility.
The delegation traveling to Greece from TTI included Agency Director Greg Winfree; Senior Research Engineer and Mobility Division Head Bill Eisele; and Juan Villa, research scientist and head of TTI’s Mexico City Office.
In addition to the MOU signings at both institutions, the TTI delegation participated in a summer school hosted by HIT in collaboration with the AUTh Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), a sister agency of TTI within The Texas A&M University System. The summer school was targeted to international summer postgraduate students, graduate students and young researchers in Greece pursuing careers in digital supply chain management or interested in innovative research and trends in the supply chain and logistics fields.
In addition to supply chain and logistics research activities, TTI and HIT could pursue joint research into intelligent transportation systems, big data analytics, sustainable urban mobility and autonomous vehicle applications, among other topics.
The MOU between NTUA and TTI focuses on joint activities in the areas of connected and automated mobility, ports, railways, safety, pavement engineering, and related transportation issues and opportunities.
“We are pleased to be working with our partners at both of these institutions, as well as our sister agency, TEES,” said Winfree. “There are numerous opportunities to collaborate on joint research and innovation activities to share our knowledge internationally and help educate the next-generation transportation workforce in both of our countries.”
Other activities under the MOUs could involve collaborating on conference presentations and papers; jointly developing and conducting academic and professional training programs; and fostering faculty, researcher and student exchanges.
USDOT Awards BUILD Grant to Brazos Transit
The Brazos Transit District was recently awarded a $14 million BUILD Grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) for new buses. TTI assisted with the grant proposal as part of an interagency contract between the district and the Institute. The grant will help fund replacement of more than 30 diesel buses, including 12 Brazos Transit District diesel buses and 20 Texas A&M University diesel buses, three of which will be replaced with battery-electric buses.
“Replacing these old and outdated buses with more efficient, clean diesel buses will reduce maintenance, support a state of good repair, and accommodate more riders,” explains TTI Research Scientist Michael Walk, who led the grant development process. “An innovative component of the grant is to replace three of Texas A&M’s diesel buses with battery-electric buses. These buses will be used to provide service on different routes, introducing students to battery-electric buses, which is still an emerging technology.”
Winfree Testifies at House Subcommittee Hearing
On May 21, TTI Agency Director Greg Winfree provided testimony during a U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee hearing on “The Need for Resilience: Preparing America’s Transportation Infrastructure for Climate Change.” During his remarks, Winfree noted that robust research efforts must be put into place to change the traditional ways in which we design, build and maintain our infrastructure.
“As a country, we have historically responded to weather disasters in a reactive way, turning to established rehabilitation and repair practices to return service to pre-disaster levels,” Winfree testified. “As demands on our infrastructure systems grow, and the population and funding to meet those demands lags behind, that strategy is no longer sustainable. Instead, we must focus more on preparation and planning. This new mindset requires a different approach to making our existing and new infrastructure more resilient.”
Arambula Featured in Asphalt Pavement Article
TTI Associate Research Engineer Edith Arambula’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program project on evaluating the use of recycling agents was recently featured in an article for Asphalt Pavement. The article, entitled “Taking RAP to the Max,” examines the barriers that prevent the use of reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP), which is stockpiled throughout the country, and what can be done to overcome these barriers.
According to Arambula, the extent of binder availability depends on how aged the RAP is, which is a function of climatic conditions and mix temperature. Reduced binder availability must be accounted for during mix design and can often be compensated for through higher dosages of recycling agent or virgin asphalt binder. But too much recycling agent — or simply the wrong agent — can be ineffective, underscoring the need for thorough analysis.
Mobility Issues in the Spotlight at Annual SXSW Gathering
TTI experts joined thought leaders from around the world during the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival in Austin. TTI Agency Director Greg Winfree joined health care leaders for a focus on “Plugging into Rural Healthcare Solutions” as part of the Texas A&M Power House presence at SXSW March 12. Winfree focused on transportation’s role in facilitating health care access for rural communities.
For those remote areas, Winfree said, a comprehensive community needs assessment is essential. He also emphasized the importance of bringing emerging transportation technologies to locales far beyond urban areas. For example, transportation network companies (Uber, Lyft, etc.) are experimenting with drone-like vehicles that can operate in the air space below 500 feet. “It’s conceivable that those vehicles could be applied to medical transport needs,” he said.
As part of a panel entitled “How Robo-Taxis Will Revolutionize Urban Transport” at the Smart Mobility Summit hosted by Wards Intelligence and the C3 Group, TTI Associate Research Scientist Ipek Nese Sener stressed the need for balance with all aspects of advancing automated vehicle technology, including infrastructure, safety and public policy. “The future looks really bright if we can do this the right way,” she said.
Turnbull Authors Critical Issues in Transportation Article
TTI Executive Associate Director Katie Turnbull recently authored an article for the Transportation Research Board (TRB) bimonthly magazine TR News summarizing the TRB report Critical Issues in Transportation 2019.
The report addresses 12 interrelated transportation topics in need of research, policy discussion or collaborative problem solving.
“These topics include ongoing concerns as well as new and emerging issues,” Turnbull said in her article. “The framing questions reflect both the increasing complexity and challenges facing society and all transportation modes, and the opportunities for innovative solutions.”
Turnbull is the past chair of the TRB Executive Committee and current chair of TRB’s Executive Committee Subcommittee for Planning and Policy Review, which championed the development of the report. The chairs of TRB’s more than 220 standing committees and task forces, sections, and groups — as well as the Marine Board, sponsors and key stakeholders — also participated in the report’s creation.
Park Elected ASA Fellow in Unique Recognition
TTI Senior Research Scientist Eun Sug Park has been selected as an American Statistical Association (ASA) Fellow. The prestigious honor is bestowed upon only a fraction of ASA members each year. The goal of ASA, formed in 1839, is “to promote the practice and profession of statistics.”
Park began her career with TTI in 2001, accumulating numerous awards and recognitions while leading modeling and data analysis tasks in many transportation research studies for numerous state and federal agencies. Her expertise includes modeling and analysis of transportation data, safety analysis, Bayesian modeling, uncertainty assessment, high- dimensional data analysis, environmental modeling, source apportionment/identification, and assessment of health effects of multiple air pollutants.
“Being selected as an ASA Fellow is among the highest honors of my career, and it was all made possible thanks to my TTI colleagues and friends,” says Park, who will be officially recognized at an awards ceremony this summer.
NHTSA Recognizes Wunderlich with Public Safety Award
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recognized Robert Wunderlich, director of TTI’s Center for Transportation Safety, with a Public Service Award. Wunderlich’s plaque reads: “For your dedication to saving lives on our highways by championing data-driven traffic safety initiatives.”
This year’s Public Service Awards were presented April 1 at the 2019 Lifesavers Conference on Highway Safety Priorities in Louisville, Kentucky. NHTSA first bestowed Public Service Awards last year to “celebrate and thank our hard-working partners who exemplify the highest levels of dedication to improving highway safety throughout the country.”
NHTSA Region 6 Administrator Maggi Gunnels nominated Wunderlich for the award, noting that he “shines as a longtime supporter of traffic safety stakeholder work groups and teams such as the Texas Statewide Pedestrian Safety Coalition…His passion for traffic safety is infectious, unparalleled and to be celebrated.”
“I view this award as the culmination of work by all the researchers and staff within the Center for Transportation Safety,” Wunderlich said. “I just happen to be honored to be the director.”