February 28, 2018

Purdue Road School includes drones, active learning and autonomous vehicle topics

Purdue Road School image Purdue Road School (Image/Lyles School of Civil Engineering) Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Drones and autonomous vehicles will be part of the focus throughout the speakers and sessions at the 104th annual Purdue University Road School Transportation Conference and Expo next week.

The event begins Monday (March 5) with afternoon ethics sessions and continues until Thursday morning (March 8) with meetings and sessions at Purdue Memorial Union and Stewart Center.

This year’s keynote speaker is Jennifer Rumsey, chief technical officer at Cummins Inc., and a 1996 mechanical engineering alumna. She will speak between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Wednesday (March 7) in the North and South Ballrooms of Purdue Memorial Union.

Opening-session speakers this year include Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Joe McGuinness, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority President Bill Hanna.

“Indiana is a national leader in transportation, and many of the ideas and discussions that have helped us stake out a position at the front of the pack have taken root at Purdue Road School,” McGuinness said. “As we take our transportation system to the next level through innovation in design and construction, and as we embrace research and testing of autonomous vehicles, opportunities to share ideas and foster collaboration like those at Road School are of incredible value to stakeholders across Indiana and beyond.”

Darcy Bullock, a Purdue civil engineering professor and director of the university’s Joint Transportation Research Program (JTRP), said Purdue Road School is reaching out to new stakeholders as it plans for technology such as connected and autonomous vehicles and drones.

“The Road School Planning Committee is composed of over 50 individuals from academia, public agencies and the private sector,” he said. “This team continues to do a great job of identifying timely topics. Who would have imagined 100 years ago we would have sessions on drones and connected/autonomous vehicles?”

This year, experts will speak on a variety of autonomous vehicle issues:

*Electric vehicle battery technology.

*Business opportunities.

*Legal issues for autonomous vehicles.

Drones also will be covered in multiple sessions, including crash scene documentation and transportation data collection.

More than 175 sessions involving speakers and moderators from Purdue, the Indiana Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, local agencies and private entities are scheduled this year.

“The organizing committee works very hard to include a well-rounded set of sessions for local agency employees and elected officials,” said John Haddock, a civil engineering professor and director of the Indiana Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP). “This means that local government officials from road supervisors to county commissioners to mayors can find interesting and helpful sessions at Road School.”

Technical sessions attendance ranges from 20 people to as many as 300. In addition to traditional presentations and panels, there are active learning opportunities for participants to visit the Herrick Laboratory 15L Diesel Engine testing laboratory and observe pavement friction measurement demonstrations at the Purdue Airport. Tuesday’s student poster session also will feature a scale model demonstration of safe trailer driving using a treadmill.

Bullock said he expects attendance to exceed 3,000 people this year, well surpassing the 2,703 who came to the 2017 Purdue Road School.

More than 50 exhibitors will be set up in the North and South ballrooms of the Purdue Memorial Union on the first full day of the event.

Purdue Road School traces its origin to 1913, when W.K. Hatt, head of Purdue’s School of Civil Engineering, initiated a conference to help county surveyors and city engineers develop and maintain Indiana’s roads and streets. At the 1914 conference, a resolution was passed calling for a yearly school for county road superintendents. In 1915 the conference officially became known as Purdue Road School.

State Street Redevelopment Project construction will begin again in earnest on March 5, 2018. This work will close portions of Stadium Avenue, McCormick Road, Airport Road and Williams Street and significantly affect surrounding thoroughfares in West Lafayette. For construction and project information, visit www.statestreetwl.com

Writer: Brian L. Huchel, 765-494-2084, bhuchel@purdue.edu 

Sources: Darcy Bullock, 765-494-2226, darcy@purdue.edu

John Haddock, 765-496-3996, jhaddock@purdue.edu

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