Bowling over the competition
NYU Tandon’s ITE team is headed to the nationals
Even die-hard fans of the television game show Jeopardy would probably not have recognized some of these categories: Signal Timing, MUTCD Sign Colors, Traffic in Work Zones. . . . But in late September, at the hotly contested Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) regional “Traffic Bowl,” members of NYU Tandon’s ITE student chapter smoked the competition at the Jeopardy-style event, thanks to a combination of solid knowledge and savvy wagering.
Now the Northeast Regional champs, they’ll be advancing to the Grand Championship on October 21, where they’ll try to replicate their winning formula.
Team members Bruno Cunha, Nick Hudanich, Logan Wagner, and Martin Bruce say they’d never have gotten this far without the guidance of their faculty advisor, Jack Bringardner; the staunch backing of Civil and Urban Engineering Department Chair Magued Iskander; and the support of C2SMART (Connected Cities with Smart Transportation), the school’s Tier 1 USDOT University Transportation Center.
While the regional game moved to a virtual format this year (and the Grand Championship will be held online as well), the event went seamlessly, thanks to volunteers from the ranks of the Northeastern District ITE, a membership association that aims to improve mobility and safety for all transportation system users and help build smart and livable communities.
“Traffic engineers are a tight-knit community, so, of course, it was disappointing not to be able to attend the traffic bowl in person,” Bringardner said. “But our students remained enthusiastic and committed to doing their best, and I know everyone at Tandon will be rooting for them at the Grand Championships.”
Spectators can tune in to watch the Championships live on the ITE’s YouTube channel. And while lay viewers might never be able to play along in most of the categories, the regionals featured one surprise set of questions: in a test of musical recall rather than knowledge of transportation planning and engineering, competitors were asked which song Freddie Mercury was inspired to write after seeing the 1978 Tour de France (“Bicycle Race”) and which hit by Steven Tyler and Joe Perry instructed pedestrians crossing the street (“Walk This Way”).
The regional championship is just the latest feather in the chapter’s cap: earlier this year the ITE named it as the best student chapter in the world thanks to the depth and breadth of its programming, its incredible membership growth (attracting more than 100 new members within a short time), and its diversity (with members hailing not just from the Department of Civil and Urban Engineering, but from Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and Technology Management and Innovation). Unsurprisingly, at the same time, it garnered the inaugural Momentum Award, for the chapter on the steepest upward trajectory.
NYU Tandon ITE E-Board
- Co-President: Martin Buce
- Co-President: Logan Wagner
- Treasurer: Suzana Duran
- Secretary: Siva Sooryaa
- Public Relations: Nick Hudanich
Meet a few of the team members
Full name: Nicholas Hudanich
Projected year of graduation: 2023
Professional goal: Traffic Optimization Engineer
When did you first get interested in Civil and Urban Engineering?: As early as middle school I had developed a fascination with creating fictional transportation systems in Google Maps in my free time. I became an avid fictional cartographer, which naturally led me to civil engineering, where I became enthralled with the concept of transportation engineering.
Why did you choose NYU Tandon?: Between all the schools I had visited and researched, I felt that Tandon offered the most robust transportation engineering program. I was particularly drawn by the C2SMART laboratory, which seemed to be the ideal environment and field that I hoped to be in.
Favorite part of studying at Tandon?: The professors at Tandon are absolutely outstanding, and each of them is passionate about their expertise. I do not think I could have asked for a better department composition, and each of them help me to learn in an engaging manner.
Full name: Logan Wagner
Projected year of graduation: 2021
Professional goal: Transportation engineering for the MTA
When did you first get interested in Civil and Urban Engineering?: The summer before my freshman year, although I originally majored in Sustainable Urban Environments.
Why did you choose NYU Tandon?: NYC is inseparable from NYU and being able to have the resources and guidance from the School while being in the infrastructure capital of the world is a dream.
Favorite part of studying at Tandon?: All of my professors do an excellent job at contextualizing what we are learning. Minuscule tasks like running water, taking the subway, and studying on the 8th floor of 2 Metrotech are all engineering feats I never thought of until now. In short, my favorite part is the professors, but I’ll add that NYU ITE is so fortunate to work with graduate and postdoctoral students from Civil and Urban Engineering and C2SMART, who provide us with guidance, support and inspiration on all things transportation.