During October, 22 graduate students in transportation engineering traveled to Washington where they participated in two conferences. On Friday, Oct. 14, they attended the PacTrans Annual Meeting on the University of Washington campus and on Saturday, Oct. 15 the Region 10 University Transportation Center (UTC) student conference. At both events, students gained professional experience by attending technical sessions, networking with regional transportation professionals, and presenting in hybrid poster sessions.

PacTrans is a consortium of transportation professionals and educators from five universities located around the Pacific Northwest. It focuses on using technological advances to develop data-driven, sustainable solutions for the diverse transportation needs of the region. This year, Haizhong Wang, assistant professor in transportation engineering served as the OSU representative on the organizing committee for the annual meeting, which had 217 registered participants plus additional attendees joining throughout the day.

Through the UTC program, the U.S. Department of Transportation awards grants to universities across the U.S. to advance the state-of-the-art in transportation research and develop the next generation of transportation professionals.

The Region 10 UTC student conference is unique in that it is planned entirely for students, by students. The goal is to provide a conference geared toward students’ needs, particularly those who plan to enter engineering practice following graduation. Zachary Barlow, a second year master’s student working with David Hurwitz, associate professor of transportation engineering and associate director of PacTrans, served on the conference organizing committee. OSU ITE student chapter members – led by graduate student David Covey, second year master’s student working with Erdem Coleri, assistant professor in infrastructure materials and transportation engineering – also contributed to the success of the trip by coordinating travel logistics for the large group.

OSU earned high marks at the student conference with Hisham Jashami, a second-year PhD student in transportation engineering who also works with Hurwitz, receiving first place in the student poster competition. The awards were determined by a voting committee comprised of Washington State Department of Transportation employees and student participants.

Thanks to events such as these, OSU students have impactful, experiential learning opportunities, which contribute to their success while in school – and beyond.

Merrick HallerMerrick Haller, professor of coastal and ocean engineering and associate head of graduate affairs, has been awarded a 5-year, $1.4 million research grant from the Office of Naval Research to investigate hazardous tidal currents in coastal inlets. Under the grant, “MINERS: Multiple Inlet & Estuary Remote Sensing,” Haller and David Honegger, postdoctoral scholar in the Nearshore Remote Sensing Group, will collect radar observations at seven inlets and estuaries across the U.S. for the purpose of better understanding the dynamic current fronts that develop on the ebbing and flooding tides and how they impact the U.S. Navy’s undersea acoustics operations.

“This is an exciting project for us for several reasons,” said Haller. “Navigational inlets are dynamic places that are often dangerous for fishing boats and cargo ships, so our observations will contribute to improved maritime safety. The U.S. Navy is also interested in these data because they show how fresh water coming out of the estuaries interacts with the salty ocean water forming internal tidal bores. These highly turbulent features are hazards to underwater vehicles and disrupt underwater acoustic communication systems.”

Haller joined Oregon State in 2001. He teaches hydraulics, coastal engineering, and ocean wave mechanics. His research program centers around the remote sensing of waves and currents in the nearshore ocean in order to better understand and forecast coastal hazards such as rip currents and breaking waves. Other efforts relate to the interaction between waves and wave energy converters and quantifying the downstream effects of wave energy arrays.