Tag Archives: education

New video: Finding solutions to save lives

See how researchers at the Roadway Safety Institute (RSI), led by the University of Minnesota, are working to reduce crashes and save lives on our nation’s roadways in a new video.

The video features RSI director Max Donath and researchers from across the region who are working on a breadth of projects, ranging from reducing crashes at rail grade crossings to improving road safety on tribal lands. The video also highlights a few of RSI’s education efforts, including a museum exhibit designed to introduce preteens to safety concepts.

RSI was established as the Region 5 University Transportation Center in 2013 and is housed at CTS. MnDOT is a key partner for RSI, funding a variety of safety-focused projects by RSI researchers.

For more information about RSI, visit the Institute’s website.

Internship program helps students build skills, make connections

While some interns spend their days making copies and coffee runs, Caitlin Johnson spent her summer internship working on a research project exploring ways to improve safety in work zones.

Johnson, a fifth-year civil engineering student, is one of eight undergrads from the University of Minnesota who participated in this year’s Summer Transportation Internship Program.

Interns worked at MnDOT for 10 weeks and gained valuable transportation-related experience in areas ranging from designing roadways to measuring pavement movement. The program, offered jointly by CTS and MnDOT, is now in its fourth year.

This year’s participants included the following students, working in these MnDOT offices:

  • Caitlin Johnson, Office of Traffic, Safety and Technology
  • Mamadou Mbengue, Office of Environmental Stewardship
  • Ellie Lee, Office of Design
  • Luke Horsager, Bridge & Hydraulics Office
  • Sheue Torng Lee, Materials & Pavement Office
  • Trenton Pray, Materials & Concrete Office
  • Colleen Tamara Maluda, Environmental & Vegetation Office
  • Lucas Karri, Bridge Office

Johnson says her internship at MnDOT gave her the opportunity to study a topic that hasn’t been explored in-depth in the past and present those findings to industry professionals, including staff from the Federal Highway Administration. Luke Horsager, a civil engineering senior, spent his internship with the Bridge & Hydraulics Office equipping MnDOT boats with new GPS and Bluetooth software used for river mapping and monitoring bridge scour. He says he enjoyed gaining hands-on experience with the technology.

Heidi Gray, a MnDOT Metro District designer who supervised intern Ellie Lee in the Office of Design, says the internship program is valuable not only for the students, but also for the supervisors and MnDOT as a whole. While the interns gained important hands-on work experience and made valuable professional connections, MnDOT supervisors were introduced to talented young professionals.

“It’s really good to get young people in here and teach them what MnDOT is all about,” Gray says. “I personally have enjoyed the opportunity to teach and pass along what I know. It’s a good refresher.”

Application materials for the 2016 Summer Transportation Internship Program will be available on the CTS website in early November.

For more information, read the full article in the September issue of Catalyst or visit the internship program web page.

Engaging the next generation of the transportation workforce

In July, CTS introduced the next generation of the workforce to transportation topics and careers during a two-week summer program. Thirty students entering seventh through ninth grade attended the CTS-hosted National Summer Transportation Institute, where they got hands-on experience with topics ranging from distracted driving to aeronautics to traffic management.

As part of the program, attendees toured campus, visited the U of M’s transportation-related labs, and learned tips on researching, studying, public speaking, and writing. In addition, participants learned about many aspects of transportation, including human factors, roadway safety, bridge design, surveying, and traffic simulation.

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The camp also included outings to several MnDOT facilities, UPS, Metro Transit, the Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport, the Minnesota Transportation Museum, and boat tours of the St. Croix River Crossing construction site and St. Paul Port Authority.

Highlights for attendees included riding the light rail and going behind the scenes in a Metro Transit control room, watching airplanes take off and exploring maintenance equipment at the airport, getting up close to bridge construction on the St. Croix River Crossing boat tour, and using a driving simulator to learn about distracted driving at UPS.

“I really enjoyed using the driving simulators,” said one of the ninth-grade program participants. “It was a hands-on experience that truly taught me the dangers of texting while driving and how much harder it really is.”

In post-program evaluations, parents reported that their children had learned valuable information about transportation topics, careers, and related education opportunities.

“This was one of the best camps we have ever experienced,” one parent said. “There was always a plan for college, and this program increased enthusiasm, preparedness, and maturity.”

“[The program] opened up my daughter’s horizon for future career choices and major focus areas after high school,” another parent said.

The program was sponsored by CTS with funding from the Federal Highway Administration administered by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).

To learn more, read the full article in the August issue of Catalyst.

New Roadway Safety Institute focuses on user-centered solutions for multiple modes

The new Roadway Safety Institute, a $10.4 million regional University Transportation Center (UTC) established in late 2013, will conduct a range of research, education, and technology transfer initiatives related to transportation safety. Led by the University of Minnesota, the two-year consortium will develop and implement user-centered safety solutions across multiple modes.

The Institute will be a focal point for safety-related work in the region, which includes Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Other consortium members are the University of Akron, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and Western Michigan University.

Max Donath, professor of mechanical engineering at the U of M, serves as the new Institute’s director. In this month’s issue of the CTS newsletter, Catalyst, Donath shared his vision for the Institute.

According to Donath, the Institute will focus on addressing regional traffic safety priorities, educating the public, and attracting more professionals to the safety workforce by connecting with students.

Research topics will focus on two key areas, Donath said: high-risk road users and traffic safety system approaches. The goal of this work is to prevent the crashes that lead to fatalities and injuries on the region’s roads.

One unique Institute effort will involve working with American Indian communities in the region to explore and address the unusually high number of motor vehicle crash fatalities on tribal lands.  “Our research will work to better understand why this is happening and to develop more effective solutions,” Donath said.

Read the full Q&A in the April issue of Catalyst.