Civil and Urban Engineering Students Put Their Traffic Knowledge to the Test

Traffic Knowledge

The 2017 ITE Northeastern Collegiate Traffic Bowl and Research Symposium, hosted by NYU Tandon School of Engineering’s student chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), brought together civil and urban engineering experts and students from schools throughout the Northeast to discuss important transportation and traffic education matters. Jack Bringardner, assistant professor of civil and urban engineering and advisor to the NYU ITE chapter, opened the panel on “Innovations in Transportation Education” by providing background on the diversity of ways one can approach transportation challenges.

Moderated by Tra Vu, an adjunct professor of civil and urban engineering at NYU Tandon and president of the ITE Metropolitan Section of New York and New Jersey, the panel featured experts in civil and urban engineering, including Professor Kaan Ozbay and Assistant Professor Joseph Chow of NYU Tandon, Assistant Professor Alison Conway of the City College of New York, Vice President and Director of Transportation Services at Greenman-Pedersen, Inc. Mike Salatti, and Dr. Cole Fitzpatrick, a postdoc in the Civil Engineering department at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. 

The panelists covered a multitude of questions regarding transportation education methods and the difficulty in circumscribing the field of transportation to one concentration or path. One of the main points emphasized by all of the experts is that transportation education is multidisciplinary and constantly evolving. “There are so many disciplines that you cannot teach them all. Instead I think it’s important to teach how to approach and solve a problem,” Ozbay explained. With an audience that consisted mainly of students, the panelists provided words of wisdom for those who are concerned about job prospects in the transportation sector. “Many of the entry-level students I hire aren’t necessarily the best technical students,” Salatti shared. “You need oral skills, written skills, and people skills.”

After the panel discussion, five students from various institutions presented their transportation-related research projects. The student presenters, who included Alyssa Ryan, Susan Jia Xu, Francis Tainte, Jingqin Gao, and Sayeeda Avez, embodied the multidisciplinary nature of transportation education in their projects ranging from topics like bike share ridership to the most effective road signs for merging lanes.

Students participating in the Collegiate Traffic Bowl

Students participating in the Collegiate Traffic Bowl

After a quick break for lunch and poster presentations, groups from six northeast schools reconvened to compete in the Collegiate Traffic Bowl, a “Jeopardy!”-style competition that tests participants’ knowledge of traffic and transportation. The winning team will represent the Northeast region at the International ITE Collegiate Traffic Bowl in Toronto, Canada on July 31. Students from Northeastern University won the first round against the University of Connecticut and the University of Rhode Island teams, excelling in questions involving transportation acronyms, the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), and traffic signals. In the second round, The Cooper Union team won against the NYU Tandon and University of Massachusetts teams in topics such as transportation vocabulary and data. In the final round, Northeastern University and The Cooper Union battled it out for the spot at the Toronto Traffic Bowl, with the Northeastern team emerging victorious.

With its emphasis on the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration within transportation and engineering, the Symposium offered students an opportunity to apply their diverse backgrounds and concentrations towards solving the most pertinent transportations issues of today.

Judy Lee
College of Arts and Science
B.A. in Sociology, Class of 2018