USDOT Region V Regional University Transportation Center

Graduate Education Highlights

  • Jeff Peters Named 2011 Student of the Year

    Jeff Peters is currently pursuing a M.S. in Economics and a Ph.D. in Transportation Engineering and Infrastructure Systems at Purdue University. Jeff received a B.S.E. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan in 2008 and worked for two years with Northrop Grumman Space Technology. His research interests include public policy, infrastructure policy, infrastructure resiliency, sustainability, energy security, national security, and system-of-systems.

    In addition to his studies, Jeff actively pursues opportunities to become involved in his community. Prior to attending Purdue, Jeff worked with the Los Angeles city government to address infrastructure issues as an auxiliary member of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) Metro Los Angeles Branch (MLAB). Currently, Jeff maintains steady involvement in outreach activities in the Purdue and Greater Lafayette area. Most recently, he has volunteered as a session chair and judge for a summer undergraduate research symposium, judged an elementary and middle school science fair, and addressed the need for informed policymaking as a graduate mentor for an undergraduate engineering team. He has also founded two different organizations at Purdue dedicated to connecting students, faculty and staff with similar interests and goals across disciplines. As part of one of these organizations, he has raised over $12,000 and has secured several high-profile speakers to bring TEDx (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) events to Purdue to help foster commercialization of university research.

    Jeff was selected because of his technical vision, passion for mentorship, leadership in fostering interdisciplinary collaboration, and professional achievements in the field of sustainable transportation and its linkage to energy and policy.

  • Former Researcher Honored With Pikarsky Award

    Pengcheng Zhang, a former NEXTRANS researcher at Purdue University, was awarded the Pikarsky Award for Outstanding Ph.D. Dissertation in Science and Technology by the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC).

    Dr. Zhang’s dissertation, “A Generalized Modeling Framework to Analyze Interdependencies Among Infrastructure Systems,” was advised by NEXTRANS Center Director Srinivas Peeta. The dissertation proposes a generalized modeling framework that combines a multilayer network concept with a market-based economic approach to capture the interdependencies among the various civil infrastructure systems with disparate physical and operational characteristics.

    Dr. Zhang received his award at the Annual CUTC Awards Banquet on January 22, 2011.

    Dr. Zhang received his Ph.D. in Transportation and Infrastructure Systems from the School of Civil Engineering, Purdue University, in May 2010. He also holds master’s (1999) and bachelor’s (1994) degrees in Transportation Management Engineering from Northern (Beijing) Jiaotong University, Beijing, China. Since 2006, he has worked as a senior operations research analyst at American Airlines, Fort Worth, Texas.

  • Sofia E. Leon Named 2010 Student of the Year

    The NEXTRANS Center is pleased to announce the selection of Sofie Leon as 2010 Student of the Year. Sofie is pursuing her Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).

    Sofie earned her B.S. in Civil Engineering from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo with a minor in Computer Science in June 2008. At UIUC she has been working on a project, funded by the NEXTRANS Center, to create new analysis and design tools to better predict thermal cracking in asphalt pavements. She created a general-purpose software, Visual LTC (Visual Low Temperature Cracking), which is being used to transfer technology from the university to industry and practitioners. She is also involved in international research collaboration with colleagues at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) to develop a library of solvers to capture behavior of highly nonlinear systems. Now in her Ph.D. research, Sofie is investigating dynamic fracture including crack nucleation, initiation, propagation, branching and fragmentation in a multiscale computational environment.

    Throughout her academic career, Sofie has been involved in outreach and community service activities. As both an undergraduate and graduate student, she encouraged underrepresented students to pursue education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics through events like "Building an Engineer" and "High School Shadow."

    In recognition of her strong leadership skills, academic performance, and community involvement, Sofie will be honored at the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC) Annual Banquet and Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C. on January 23, 2011.

  • Brandon Strohl Named 2009 Student of the Year

    The NEXTRANS Center is pleased to announce its selection of Brandon Strohl as its 2009 Student of the Year. Brandon is a Masters candidate in the Civil and Environmental Engineering and City and Regional Planning programs at The Ohio State University. Brandon’s interests are in the area of transportation systems analysis and planning. His research involves the advanced evaluation of estimation procedures that produce transit bus route origin-destination (OD) flows from boarding and alighting data. This data is obtained from OSU’s Campus Transit Lab using Automatic Passenger Count (APC) technologies.

    Brandon was awarded the highly competitive merit-based Graduate School University Fellowship for his first year of graduate study at OSU. He has worked for the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and EMH&T Inc, and is an active member in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Chi Epsilon, and the National Civil Engineering Honor Society.

    Brandon was selected based on his strong academic standing, research contributions, leadership and management skills, broad professional experience, and his keen interest in advancing the field of transportation systems analysis and planning. He was formally honored on January 9, 2010 at the Council of University Transportation Center (CUTC) Annual Banquet and Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C. Congratulations Brandon!

  • Salvador Hernández Named 2008 Student of the Year

    Salvador H. Hernández was recently named the NEXTRANS Center's 2008 Student of the Year. Salvador received his award, along with a cash prize, at the 18th Annual Outstanding Student of the Year Awards, held during the 2009 Transportation Research Board's Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. Salvador's research involves developing collaborative LTL carrier-carrier operational paradigms that take advantage of operational synergies amongst small-to-medium sized carriers to increase capacity utilization. He also seeks to identify the potential factors that will lead to a successful collaborative effort.

    In addition to research, Salvador actively mentors undergraduates for both the transportation center and the Minority Engineering Program (MEP) at Purdue University. He mentored NEXTRANS' first intern, Jim Caraher, a National Merit Scholar who has chosen to continue his internship at the Center as an undergraduate student. Together they are disseminating surveys that will be used to develop new operational models for capacity utilization in the freight-carrier industry. Salvador was awarded the Gerald I. Gilbert Memorial Scholarship and a fellowship for talented minority students. He has served in leadership positions for the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), Institute for Operations Research and Management Science (INFORMS), and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). He is an active member of Chi-Epsilon, the National Civil Engineering Honor Society.

    In recognition of his strong leadership skills, professional achievements, and determination to excel in the field of freight-transportation systems and logistics, NEXTRANS University Transportation Center is proud to nominate Salvador H. Hernandez as its 2008 Student of the Year.

    Click here to view photos from the 2009 CUTC Awards Banquet

  • PPP Workshop Bridges Gap Between Classroom and Real World

    On December 2, 2008, the NEXTRANS Center hosted a workshop that allowed students to analyze a toll road project from the perspective of private-sector investors. The workshop, titled “XYZ Express Toll Route: A PPP (Private Toll Road Concession) Practical Case Study,” was presented by Fidel Saenz de Ormijana and Ricardo Sanchez of Ferrovial Group. It was attended by approximately forty Purdue students and faculty members, in addition to other representatives of Ferrovial Group. For the exercise, Saenz and Sanchez asked students to examine a hypothetical toll road project called the XYZ Express Toll Route, which the state DOT is planning to develop as an alternative route to a congested freeway. The project is to be completed through a standard public-private partnership (PPP), in which a private company (concessionaire) will design, build, finance, and operate the road, recovering their investment via tolls. Student participants were then called in as “experts” by potential private-sector investors, in order to analyze the financial feasibility of the project.

    The workshop generated a number of questions from students and professors, including NEXTRANS faculty members Professor Kumares Sinha and Professor Samuel Labi. This discussion focused a great deal on estimating user demand, and the variables that can arise in the real world over the span of decades. All in all, the workshop presented a strong experiential learning opportunity for students, who were asked to leave the classroom mentally in order to examine these real-world variables, and make their own calculations and evaluations based on the presented data. This will help prepare them for when they enter the transportation workforce, and are presented with complex, field-based problems that lack controlling parameters.

  • OSU Faculty Engage Students at OTEC 2008

    How do University Transportation Centers affect my education? What advice would transportation professionals give me as a student pursuing a career in the industry? NEXTRANS faculty members from The Ohio State University attempted to answer these questions for students attending the 62nd Annual Ohio Transportation and Engineering Conference (OTEC), which was held in Columbus on October 28 – 29, 2008. Sponsored by the Ohio Department of Transportation and The Ohio State University (OSU), the conference focused on the 2008 Theme: “The Power of Multi-modal Transportation: Linking Ohio to the World on All Fronts.” NEXTRANS faculty members from OSU actively engaged students at this year’s conference to inform them on UTC activities and opportunities, and help them transition into transportation careers. Faculty also shared research projects co-sponsored by NEXTRANS with attendees at large.

    Professor Mark McCord organized two panel sessions geared toward students attending the conference. Approximately 80 participants attended the first session, titled “University Transportation Centers in Ohio: What They Mean for Transporta-tion Education and Practice.” OSU Professor and NEXTRANS Center Co-Director Rabi Mishalani served as a panelist during this session. Representatives discussed the work that is being conducted at their centers, and how this work is expected to impact transportation education and practice. The general consensus amongst the panelists was that the primary impact is presently occurring through the participation of students on research projects that otherwise would not be undertaken. In addition, efforts are underway to impact education by designing class modules around results being produced in UTC projects, and also by exposing high school teachers to the centers and the prob-lems being addressed. Professor McCord moderated the second session, which was titled “The Transportation Profession: Observations and Tips for Students From Transportation Engineers.” Attended by approximately sixty students, this panel session informed participants about the transportation profession and provided tips on starting their careers. After discussing their background and current projects, panelists answered student questions based on their own observations and experiences in the transportation industry.

  • Kalafatas and Peeta Win Best Paper Award at the AATT 2008 Conference

    May 30, 2008 - A paper co-authored by NEXTRANS Center Ph.D. student George Kalafatas and Director Srinivas Peeta won the best paper award at the 10th International Conference on Applications of Advanced Technologies in Transportation (AATT 2008) in Athens, Greece. It received the Best Paper Award in Traffic Engineering from among 800 papers from over 25 countries. The paper, titled "A direct bridge between dynamic traffic assignment and graph theory," proposed an innovative modeling approach for dynamic traffic systems and operations. The contributions are twofold. From an applications standpoint, traffic systems can be simulated with significantly reduced computational times. This is an important step towards real-time route guidance in congested traffic networks, as crucial estimates for the network status can be provided faster to drivers. From a theoretical standpoint, dynamic traffic systems are modeled with an exact graph theoretic representation. This enables the elegant illustration of the synergy between transportation engineering and graph theory.

  • UIUC Sweeps FAA Design Challenge for Airport Operations and Maintenance

    June 2, 2008 - The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Design Competition for universities has announced the award winners for the Airport Operation and Maintenance Design Challenge. Students from the NEXTRANS Center’s major partner, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) won first, second, and third prizes in this category.

    The selection was made by a panel of FAA, industry, and academic experts. The winners were:

    • First Place: "Long-Lasting Pavement Structure Rehabilitation: Hot-Mix Asphalt Overlay with Steel Reinforcement Netting Interlayer System" by Hao Wang and Jonguen Baek. (Advisor: Imad Al-Qadi)
    • Second Place: "Aircraft Wander Effects on Unbound Aggregate Layers" by Phillip Donovan. (Advisor: Erol Tutumluer)
    • Third Place: "A Fast and Automated Approach for Monitoring Groove Deterioration at Airport Pavements" by Hasan Ozer. (Advisor: Imad Al-Qadi)

    (Courtesy: Illinois Center for Transportation)

  • NEXTRANS Students Showcase Research Projects

    Graduate students from Purdue University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Ohio State University got an opportunity to showcase their research projects to RITA Administrator Paul Brubaker and other federal, state and private sector officials and faculty attending the NEXTRANS Summit on May 5, at Purdue University. In addition to describing the problem statement, methodology, goals and objectives, and significance and benefits of the project, students were asked to indicate which research dimensions of the Center were being addressed.

    In total eleven students participated: five from Purdue and three students each from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Ohio State University. The posters highlighted the diverse project portfolio of the NEXTRANS Center showcasing the integration of goals, methodology, and technology, covering the issues of mobility, safety and infrastructure renewal, and addressing regional and national needs in transportation and logistics. Names of participating students, institutional affiliation and the title of the poster are provided in the Table below.

    Qiang Bai Purdue Analysis of Trade-offs in Highway Project Selection for Integrated Asset Managment
    Cheng Chen OSU Campis Transit Lab: Advanced Sensor Technology Applications
    Eshan Dave UIUC Development of Cohesive Zone Based Thermal Cracking Prediction Model
    Salvador Hernandez Purdue Less-than-Truckload Carrier Collaborative Networkds
    George Kalafatas Purdue Network Models to Develop Innovative Transportation and Logistics Solutions
    Seoungbum Kim OSU Length-Based Vehicle Classification on Freeways from Single Loop Detectors
    Xiaopeng Li UIUC Optimal Sensor Deployment for Traffic Monitoring in Large-scale Transportation Networks: A Preliminary Study
    Justin Quear Purdue Changes in Transportation Arising From Biofuels in Indiana
    Anuj Sharma Purdue Improving Signal Operations by Modeling the Driver's Mental Conflict on the Onset of Yellow
    M. Wang UIUC Effects of Speed Photo Enforcement on Speeding in Work Zones
    Fanyu Zhou OSU Incorporating Aerial Image-Based Information in AADT Estimation
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