Congratulations to transportation engineering graduate students Jason Anderson and Masoud Ghodrat Abadi. The Pacific Northwest Transportation Consortium (Pactrans) formally recognized Anderson as an Outstanding Student of the Year and Abadi as the winner of the Michael Kyte Award at the Transportation Research Board 96th Annual Meeting.

Anderson is a graduate research assistant in the School of Civil and Construction Engineering. Previously, he completed his bachelor of science and master of science at Oregon State and is now in the first year of his doctoral studies. Anderson’s current research interests include transportation safety through use of behavior modeling and network design and resiliency using operations research methods.

“Jason’s determination and skill have contributed to the success of many of the projects that he has worked on,” said David Hurwitz, associate professor of transportation engineering. “For example, in a recent study, he implemented statistical techniques to determine where large-truck crashes were likely to occur in their relation to existing parking facilities on U.S. 97.”

Ghodrat Abadi is a third year transportation engineering Ph.D. student and currently serves as a graduate research assistant in the Driving and Bicycling Research Laboratory.

“Masoud embodies all of the characteristics expected in a recipient of this prestigious award,” said Hurwitz. “The Michael Kyte award places a particular emphasis on contributions to transportation engineering education, and he has repeatedly demonstrated exemplary performance leading individual lectures in civil engineering classes.”

Since joining Hurwitz’s research group, Ghodrat Abadi has served as the lead graduate student on three significant research projects including an NSF-funded study to develop conceptual traffic signal questions founded in qualitative engineering education research methods, an ODOT-funded study to design an improved red light extension system for isolated signalized intersections, and a PacTrans-funded study to evaluate conflicts between trucks and bikes in loading zones in urban environments.

Ghodrat Abadi is a current member of the TRB Committee on Transportation Education and Training, vice president of the OSU ITE Student Chapter, and served as a co-chair for the 2015 Region X Student conference.

PacTrans, of which Oregon State is a member, is a consortium of transportation professionals and educators from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho and is the Regional University Transportation Center (UTC) for Federal Region 10. Through the UTC program, the USDOT awards grants to universities across the U.S. to advance state-of-the-art transportation research and develop the next generation of transportation professionals – of which Anderson and Ghodrat Abadi are well on their way to becoming.

The Pacific Northwest Transportation Consortium (PacTrans), of which Oregon State University is a member, was awarded $14.35 million over 5 years from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to fund research toward improving the mobility of people and goods across the Pacific Northwest.

PacTrans is a consortium of transportation professionals and educators from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho and is the Regional University Transportation Center (UTC) for Federal Region 10. Through the UTC program, the USDOT awards grants to universities across the U.S. to advance state-of-the-art transportation research and develop the next generation of transportation professionals. PacTrans focuses on using technological advances to develop data-driven, sustainable solutions for the diverse transportation needs of the region.

“This new grant will serve as a force multiplier for the impact of transportation mobility research currently taking place at Oregon State University,” said David Hurwitz, associate professor of transportation engineering and associate director at Oregon State for PacTrans. “The traveling public in Oregon – and the Pacific Northwest more broadly – will benefit directly from these efforts.”

“Through this grant, Oregon State will conduct further world-class research toward increasing mobility and accessibility,” said Jason Weiss, professor and head of the School of Civil and Construction Engineering at Oregon State’s College of Engineering. “Our region presents diverse challenges and this award will contribute to optimizing freight and passenger movement, connecting rural and urban communities, and more.”

Previous research at Oregon State funded through PacTrans includes improving cyclist safety by considering levels of stress, evaluating the potential to perform bridge inspections with unmanned aerial vehicles, preventing accidents during the construction of transportation infrastructure, and reducing the occurrence of lane departure crashes.

The University of Washington leads PacTrans. Other university partners include Boise State University, Gonzaga University, Oregon State University, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Idaho, and Washington State University.

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.

Masoud Ghodrat Abadi
Ph.D. Student Masoud Ghodrat Abadi
Zach Barlow
M.S. Student Zach Barlow

Two CCE graduate students in transportation engineering have been named to standing committees of the Transportation Research Board (TRB). Ph.D. student Masoud Ghodrat Abadi is a member of the Committee on Education and Training and M.S. student Zach Barlow is a member of the Committee on Transportation History.

“Attaining formal membership on a standing committee sponsored by the Transportation Research Board is a significant recognition for any transportation professional,” said Associate Professor David Hurwitz. “The recent appointment of the two students is indicative of the strength of their early career performance.”

The mission of the TRB is to promote innovation and progress in transportation through research. Standing committees identify research needs and priorities, review papers, encourage the incorporation of research findings into practice, and develop special programs such as conferences and workshops.

The Committee on Transportation History promotes the importance of preserving important historical archives among transportation professionals. It also serves as a forum for historians, curators, and governmental archivists to exchange information and advance the preservation of transportation history.

“It is a privilege to work alongside professionals with diverse talents who are all committed to preserving and documenting transportation history for future generations,” said Barlow. “As the youngest member of the committee, I am excited to learn from the more experienced members and gain a greater appreciation for the multi-disciplinary nature of the transportation industry.”

The Committee on Education and Training works to improve communications among the academic community, the private and public sectors, and governmental agencies and works to develop improved educational offerings at all academic levels.

“It is a great honor to serve as a young member on the committee,” said Abadi. “It is also a tremendous opportunity for me to gain valuable experience through active collaboration with experts and professionals in the field of transportation education.”

Abadi and Barlow are advised by Hurwitz and are part of the Hurwitz Research Group in the School of Civil and Construction Engineering.

Chris BellA familiar presence in every corner of campus, Associate School Head Chris Bell’s 35-year career at Oregon State has taken him from CCE to the College of Engineering to INTO OSU – and even to Reser Stadium, where he serves as chief marshal of the annual commencement ceremony.

Originally from England, Bell received his Ph.D. from the University of Nottingham. “I’ve been a transportation fanatic since I was eight years old,” said Bell. After earning his doctoral degree, he served as a lecturer at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland.

“My Ph.D. research was sponsored by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers on the permanent deformation of asphalt pavements,” said Bell. “At the time, the research was more sought after in the U.S. than in the U.K., and through my advisor, I had an opportunity to connect with Gary Hicks at OSU.”

In 1981, Bell joined OSU as a visiting professor in CCE, specializing in highway and transportation engineering. In 1983, he was hired as a regular assistant professor.

After earning a promotion to professor and directing the Transportation Research Institute for six years, Bell transitioned to the College of Engineering in 1997 as an associate dean, where he managed internships, awards, and international programs as well as graduate studies and industry relations. Following 11 years in that role, Bell became the director of academic programs for INTO OSU, an initiative that began in 2008 with a mission to increase the number of international students and to improve the overall level of service for that population. Not long after completing his three-year tenure, INTO OSU succeeded in more than doubling the number of international students, exceeding the university’s goals.

“My job was to take the lead on the academic programs for the INTO OSU program,” said Bell. “It was a gratifying project to work on and it was a really good thing for OSU.”

In 2011, Bell returned to CCE as associate school head, with research interests in pavement materials and design, pavement-vehicle interaction, and truck operations and safety. Soon after his return, OSU was invited to join the Pacific Northwest Transportation Consortium (PacTrans) – one of 10 Regional University Transportation Centers nationwide – which was established in 2012 with an initial grant of $3.5 million from the US Department of Transportation. Bell is now finishing his term as the PI for OSU’s PacTrans efforts and as a member of the board of directors. “The universities in the PacTrans consortium have contributed heavily in safety and environmental sustainability research to address both regional and national transportation issues,” said Bell.

The current PacTrans project portfolio at OSU spans a variety of focus areas, not just transportation engineering. Examples of this research are the use of mobile lidar to identify potential landslide locations and drones to perform highway bridge inspections.

“I’m excited about what we do in this school – a lot of our research plays into transportation and to making major contributions in civil engineering as a whole,” said Bell.

Through his various roles on campus, Bell will leave a long legacy of outstanding contributions to our students and the university. As he retires in June 2016, be sure to see him one last time as chief marshal, when he leads the commencement procession for thousands of graduates, which in his own words, “is an amazing day with everyone so excited and upbeat about graduating.”

The PacTrans University Transportation Center recently released a five-minute video about a collaborative research/outreach project led by OSU CCE assistant professor David Hurwitz. The goal of the PacTrans outreach project featured in the video was to examine driver distraction among teenagers in the Pacific Northwest to identify tasks they consider to be distracting and compare that to their self-reported engagement in these same tasks while driving. The group, which includes members from all five PacTrans institutions, recently completed their first journal article, which has been accepted for publication.

During the video, Justin Neill, OSU MSCE ’14, is pictured operating the OSU driving simulator and Sarah McCrea, OSU second-year MS student, closes out the video.

Jennifer Warner captured first-place at the summit with her presentation on "Right Hook Crash Mitigations."
Jennifer Warner captured first-place at the summit with her presentation on “Right Hook Crash Mitigations.”

This past week, 12 students from the Oregon State University School of Civil and Construction Engineering attended the annual Oregon Transportation Summit in Portland, hosted by the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium and Portland State University.  The summit brought together Oregon’s academic and transportation professionals to advance the state of the field by accelerating new research into practice and by shaping the agenda for future research. OSU’s trip was highlighted by graduate student Jennifer Warner’s first-place finish in the Three-Minute Thesis Competition, for her presentation on “Right Hook Crash Mitigations.”

“The summit was a huge success,” OSU graduate student Rachel Vogt said. “We were able to expand our knowledge of transportation while networking with professionals and academics from across Oregon.”

The summit featured a plenary session with Sue Groth from MinnDOT, Troy Costales from Oregon Transportation Safety Division, and Leah Treat from City of Portland, all of whom discussed “Envisioning Vision Zero” or reducing the amount of traffic related incidents to zero fatalities.  Their thought-provoking topics focused on the recent safety initiatives at the national, state, and local levels.  Additionally, the students had the opportunity to listen to the keynote speaker, Jarrett Walker of Jarrett Walker & Associates, give a talk on the benefits of considering the rational choices surrounding public transit, and how doing so can enrich our communities and our lives.

Five of the OSU students in attendance, (Sarah McCrea, Rachel Vogt, Jennifer Warner, Julia Kautz, and Medha Jannat) presented their ongoing research projects during the student poster session. Through this session, they were able to discuss their work with the leading professionals and researchers from Oregon.

Three students, (Dylan Anderson, Jasmine Pahukula, and Jennifer Warner), participated in the Three-Minute Thesis Competition, where students had three minutes and one slide to present their research work to a panel of judges and captivate the interest of the audience.

OSU_ITE_Student_Chapter_leadersFor the first time in 67 years, the Western and Midwestern Districts of the Institute of Transportation Engineers  jointly held their annual meetings as the groups met in Rapid City, South Dakota, June 29 – July 2.

 This year, OSU sent four students leaders from the campus chapter to the conference; Rachel Vogt (President), Jennifer Warner, (Vice President) Andrea Mathers, (Secretary), and Sarah McCrea (Treasurer).  All participated in the annual Western District Student Traffic Bowl competition, a jeopardy style game, as Sarah and Andrea were also invited to participate in the Joint Professional Traffic Bowl.  Additionally, there was a student poster competition as Sarah presented a poster on “Information Signage.”  One highlight from the trip was the chance to visit Mt. Rushmore and watch the lighting ceremony.  Overall, the students learned valuable lessons and skills from the technical session and had a great time meeting and talking with professionals from across the country.

The meeting provided an opportunity for a robust and diverse technical program, vendor exhibit and opportunity to network with transportation professionals. During the four days, participants had to opportunity to attend 13.5 hours of technical sessions and transportation presentations.

For more information about ITE, visit the national organization’s website.

Oregon State University School of Civil and Construction Engineering graduate students Dylan Anderson and Rachel Vogt have been awarded 2014 Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowships. The highly competitive national awards are given as part of the Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program (DDETFP), which was started in 1991 to attract qualified students to the fields of transportation education and research, and advance transportation workforce development.

Advised by OSU associate professor Katharine Hunter-Zaworski, Anderson is developing a manual to improve safety at rail public transportation platforms. The research, conducted under the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP), will assist transit agencies to prevent and minimize public rail transit safety incidents.

Vogt, who is advised by OSU assistant professor Haizhong Wang, is working with the Oregon Department of Transportation to understand and address questions related to decreasing fuel tax  combined with increasing infrastructure costs. As Oregon continues to explore a Road User Charge (RUC), her research will focus on how various rate structures and implementation strategies may impact different socio-economic groups and regions of the state.

Approximately 150 to 200 Eisenhower Transportation Fellowships are awarded each year based on funding availability. Since its inception, the program has awarded over 2,000 Eisenhower Transportation Fellowships.

For more information about the program, visit the DDETFP website.