Dale Grove, Chris Ryan
John Bieniek, Rebecca Reiff, Deb Bloom
More than 100 students seeking transportation-related career opportunities converged on the campus of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis on February 28 for the 2012 Transportation Career Expo. Students in many disciplines— from planning to engineering to supply chain management—were among the attendees.
The event featured a panel discussion with transportation industry experts providing careerplanning advice. The panel, moderated by CTS assistant director Gina Baas, included Dale Grove, associate with Stantec Consulting Services, Inc.; Chris Ryan, transportation planner and engineer with SRF Consulting Group; John Bieniek, maintenance operations engineer with the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Metro Office; Rebecca Reiff, deployment team leader for General Mills; and Deb Bloom, city engineer and assistant public works director for the City of Roseville, Minnesota.
Speakers shared personal experiences in their transportation-related fields, stressing the importance of internships in college and offering tips for putting together successful resumes.
“I think internships are incredibly important,” said Reiff, who interned with General Mills in college. She added that the skills and leadership qualities developed during internships are incredibly valuable. “It’s something that every single employer is going to be looking for,” she said.
Grove suggested students differentiate themselves through longer internships, such as a six-month commitment instead of the usual summer-long internship. “If you want to stand out from the 50 resumes we get for a summer worker, that’s a good way to do it,” he said. He went on to say that students who work hard and are willing to make a commitment to a company often are rewarded with fulltime positions after their internships have concluded.
Expo exhibitors meet with students.
Other panelists stressed the importance of networking. Bloom said she couldn’t be successful without the people who have helped her, and that networking is critical to success. “Look to the left and to the right of you! Those are the people you’ll be working with 10 years from now,” she told students.
Panelists also said that companies are looking for people able to deliver their ideas effectively. Potential employees must have good communication skills. In fact, presence during an interview often is considered more important than a candidate’s references.
Following the Q&A session, students were given a chance to explore exhibitor booths. Twenty-eight exhibitors offered networking and employment opportunities from public, private, and professional organizations.
The annual expo was sponsored by the CTS Education and Outreach Council, the Women’s Transportation Seminar, the Minnesota Local Road Research Board, the Minnesota Local Technical Assistance Program, the Intelligent Transportation Systems Institute, and the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals.
The U.S. Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recently issued new proposed rules and policy guidance for evaluating and making decisions about which transit capital investments to fund. On February 24, the University hosted a forum to discuss the criteria and how they relate to transit investments in the Minneapolis–St. Paul region.
Former Congressman James L. Oberstar hosted the forum. Oberstar is a visiting scholar in the University’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
The FTA currently uses six weighted criteria for its New Starts Program: mobility improvements, environmental benefits, operating efficiencies, cost-effectiveness, transitsupportive land use, and economic development effects. Forum panelist Mark Fuhrmann, program director of New Starts rail projects with Metro Transit, began by describing some of the changes in the proposed rules. For example, transit lines that improve access to affordable housing would get extra credit, and lines that provide trips for transit-dependent users would get double credit.
The question for the Twin Cities, Fuhrmann said, is how the region can position itself under these new rules to “maximize its leverage capability” to attract additional federal grants.
Research led by Yingling Fan, an assistant professor in the Humphrey School, could provide key data for this positioning. Fan has conducted several studies of Twin Cities transitways, including an analysis of their impacts on job accessibility and neighborhood change.
Fan shared highlights from recent work that examined locations of low-wage workers and jobs before and after the construction of the Hiawatha light-rail transit (LRT) line. Her team compared accessibility in areas near Hiawatha LRT stations, areas connected to Hiawatha by bus routes, and areas served by regular transit. They found the highest accessibility increases in Hiawatha station areas and the second highest increases in connection areas— exactly as their hypothesis predicted. “Hiawatha LRT played a significant role in improving the region’s accessibility to lowwage jobs,” she said.
Fan has also used this method to estimate the impact of the projected 2030 metro transitway system on job accessibility in general. Much of the metro area would benefit from accessibility improvements as a result of the new system, Fan said, especially North Minneapolis. “The amount of job access increase is quite evident, with a significant increase in access in areas with high levels of unemployment,” she said.
Fan will discuss her transitway research at the opening session of the CTS annual research conference on May 23.
Peter McLaughlin, Hennepin County Commissioner and chair of the Counties Transit Improvement Board, said Fan’s work “is very important...That connection to jobs is critical to what we should be investing in.”
Other forum panelists were Mark Fabel, development project manager with McGough Development, and Barbara Thoman, executive director of Transit for Livable Communities.
The State and Local Policy Program (SLPP) of the Humphrey School, the Transitway Impacts Research Program, and CTS sponsored the forum. SLPP director Lee Munnich made opening remarks.
Registration is under way for the 23rd Annual CTS Transportation Research Conference, which will take place May 23 and 24 at Saint Paul RiverCentre.
The opening session— “The Role of Transitways in Our Region’s Economic Competitiveness”—will begin with a presentation of recent research findings from Yingling Fan, assistant professor in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Following Fan’s presentation, a panel of state and national leaders will discuss the policy implications of her research.
The luncheon on May 23 will feature author and journalist Earl Swift, who will share highlights from his book The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways.
Details and registration information are available on the conference web page.
For more information, contact the College of Continuing Education at 612-624-3708, email@example.com.
Presenters from the University of Minnesota discussed their work in intelligent transportation systems (ITS) technology at the ITS Minnesota 18th Annual Meeting and Information Exchange on March 14.
Henry Liu, associate professor of civil engineering, highlighted new research and implementation of the SMART Signal system. SMART Signal collects traffic data from signal controllers and generates real-time performance measures that can help engineers improve traffic flow on arterial streets. The system was implemented at 13 new sites on Trunk Highway 13 in December 2011, and eight additional sites on Trunk Highway 55 should be in place by April 2012, Liu said.
Liu also outlined some new work related to the system, which includes investigating how SMART Signal could be used to provide speed or route advisories to drivers in oversaturated conditions. Liu is also working with researchers in the Department of Mechanical Engineering to examine how data from SMART Signal could be used to optimize vehicle powertrains. “This is especially important for hybrid vehicles,” Liu said. “The information could help a hybrid determine which power source to use depending on traffic conditions.”
Graduate student Umair Ibrahim discussed a system that uses vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle communication to transmit congestion data to drivers near work zones. The system consists of portable roadside units and onboard vehicle units that collect data to determine travel time and the point where congestion begins. The system then displays the information to drivers, allowing them to choose alternate routes or warning them of sudden speed reductions. The project was led by M. Imran Hayee, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
Shawn Haag, program coordinator at CTS, presented Intelligent Transportation Systems: Your Road to the Future, a ten-minute video produced by the ITS Institute at CTS. The video is designed to attract potential students to a future in transportation technology, and it features interviews with ITS professionals and current students planning ITSrelated careers. Haag also demonstrated Distraction Dodger, a game developed by the ITS Institute to help teens and young adults understand the importance of concentrating on driving.
Linda Preisen, CTS director of research administration, moderated the University of Minnesota research session. The event was sponsored by ITS Minnesota in cooperation with CTS and was facilitated by the College of Continuing Education at the University of Minnesota.
CTS is a founding member of ITS Minnesota, the state chapter of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America—a national organization that coordinates the development and deployment of ITS in the United States.
Gary DeCramer, a member of the CTS Board of Advisors and former senior fellow with CTS, died on March 7. DeCramer was a senior lecturer and director of the mid-career Master of Public Affairs (MPA) program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Before leading the MPA program and teaching courses on leadership, DeCramer served as a state senator representing the southwestern region of Minnesota and also served as state director of U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development. His work at CTS included research into congestion pricing and transportation investment programs.
“Gary was a valued colleague and mentor,” says Laurie McGinnis, director of CTS. “He will be deeply missed.”
Pedestrian safety, low-temperature cracking in asphalt pavement, and living snow fences were topics of CTS Research Seminars in recent months. The seminars are held in conjunction with CTS Research Council meetings.
Chen-Fu Liao, senior systems engineer at the Minnesota Traffic Observatory, discussed his work on a smartphone application that could change the way visually impaired pedestrians navigate city streets. The prototype system uses technologies built into the latest smartphones— including Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, digital compasses, and wireless networking—to help people with limited or no eyesight cross intersections safely. All it requires is adding a small device to an existing traffic signal box to send intersection information to users, Liao says. The research was also featured on a KARE-11 TV local news “Extra” segment in February.
Mihai Marasteanu summarized work performed under two phases of a national pooled-fund study investigating the low-temperature performance of asphalt pavements. Marasteanu, an associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, also explained how statistical analyses of lab and field data have been used to set the foundation for a performance-based specification for asphalt mixtures. This research was supported by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), the lead agency on the project; other participating states; and the Federal Highway Administration.
Gary Wyatt, an agroforestry professor with the University of Minnesota Extension in Mankato, highlighted a benefit- and cost-analysis tool developed to help MnDOT evaluate its living snow fence program. The tool calculates global and site-specific economic, transportation, and environmental benefits of the fences as well as the costs to landowners. MnDOT has identified 3,700 snow problem areas in the state; if 40 percent of the problem sites were treated with living snow fences, Wyatt said, MnDOT could see net economic returns of more than $1.3 million per year.
The presentations were archived as streaming video and are available online and through iTunes U. The site also contains links to summary articles of the seminars.
In Minnesota, the Minnesota Council on Transportation Access (MCOTA) addresses the need for cost-effective transportation services by promoting public transit and human services coordination throughout the state. Established by the state legislature in 2010, MCOTA includes member representatives from 13 state agencies.
As part of a contract with the Minnesota Department of Transportation Office of Transit to support MCOTA’s communications, CTS hosted a series of MCOTA webinars in recent months. The purpose of the seminars is to advance local agencies’ understanding of mobility management techniques.
Mobility management focuses on meeting the needs of individual customers— including older adults, people with disabilities, and individuals with lower incomes—through a wide range of coordinated transportation options and service providers.
The first three webinars in the series were:
The webinar recordings are available on the Minnesota Transit Coordination website, CoordinateMNTransit.org.
For more information about MCOTA, please contact Noel Shughart at MnDOT’s transit office, Noel.Shughart@state.mn.us.
The CTS Executive Committee welcomed new member Jonathan Sage-Martinson at its February meeting. Sage- Martinson is director at the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative, a group of local and national foundations working with others to unlock the potential of the new light-rail transit line along the Central Corridor between St. Paul and Minneapolis
Proceedings from the Conference on Performance Measures for Transportation and Livable Communities are now available online. The conference, held September 7-8, 2011, in Austin, Texas, was sponsored by the University Transportation Center for Mobility and the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), and cosponsored by CTS, the Transportation Research Board, and the Transportation Economics Center at TTI. The proceedings (as PDF download or web text) are online.
The University’s Interdisciplinary Transportation Student Organization (ITSO) had a strong showing at the College of Science and Engineering (CSE) Student Organization Fair on February 24. The event featured more than 30 exhibitors and a competition for best group and best display.
ITSO took first place in the display category for its exhibit demonstrating two online games developed by the ITS Institute: Gridlock Buster and Distraction Dodger. The display also showed video from an ongoing roundabout research project being conducted by the Institute’s Minnesota Traffic Observatory (MTO).
ITSO members staffing the exhibit were Thomas Hall, Indrajit Chatterjee, Jie Sun, and ITSO president Xuan Di. MTO director John Hourdos, MTO manager Stephen Zitzow, and visiting scholar Weili Sun helped provide and organize materials for the display.
The CSE Student Organization Fair is hosted by the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) University of Minnesota student chapter with support from CSE. The event aims to help connect students with science and engineering student groups and celebrates National Engineers Week. Organizations represented at the fair included student chapters of national professional science and engineering societies, student competition groups, and service and leadership organizations.
ITSO is sponsored by CTS, the Department of Civil Engineering, and several professional organizations.