Dr. Steven Bartlett Presents EPS Geofoam Topics Worldwide

Dr. Steven Bartlett had a busy summer traveling to China and Turkey to present various topics regarding the use of EPS geofoam for Civil Engineering applications. Topics included the protection of pipelines from earthquakes using EPS geofoam, which was presented at GeoShanghai 2014 (Protecting Pipelines).

In Turkey, Dr. Bartlett also presented to several conferences and seminars regarding EPS geofoam application (Geofoam Applications). For his efforts, the Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Board of Directors of Turkey (EPSDER) presented him a recognition award. The award states:

“In great appreciation and consideration of your time, effort and support in the development of geofoam applications in Turkey.”

More information about this and other EPS research can be found at https://www.civil.utah.edu/~bartlett/Geofoam/

Amanda May Earns Outstanding Staff Award

Dedicated, hardworking, intelligent, motivated, and successful. These are the words colleagues use to describe Amanda May as she helps guide young minds through the path of achieving success here at the University of Utah. As the department’s academic advisor, Amanda connects with both undergraduate and graduate students to make sure they are on the right track for a prosperous experience at the university. She serves on the University Academic Advising Committee and also is a member of their sub-committee for Marketing and Promotion for Academic Advising. In addition, Amanda recently received her Masters of Education degree with an emphasis in student affairs. That’s because for her, students come first – and always will.

Dr. Daniel Fagnant Educates How Self-Driving Cars Can (and Should) Improve Transit

The recent 2014 Automated Vehicles Symposium brought the opportunities and perils of vehicle automation clearly into view. The week-long event—largely, though not completely, open to the media—featured keynote remarks by self-driving technology providers, car makers, federal and state officials, and academic researchers. Speakers highlighted the current and near-term trajectory of the technology’s fundamental components, detailed the ongoing regulatory efforts to bring self-driving vehicles into the system safely, and debated the likely consequences of highly-automated cars, trucks, and buses.

Many of the event’s speakers provided a one-way flow of information, with much of the interactive action occurring in breakout sessions (which were closed to the media). I had the pleasure of participating in the transit and shared mobility session, which emphasized intelligent rollouts that take advantage of existing mass transit systems to avoid a nightmare scenario of drastically increased vehicle miles traveled (VMT). As Rod Diridon, Sr. of the Mineta Transportation Institute noted, substantial resources have been invested in existing transit systems, and it would be foolhardy to write them off. That is, the goal shouldn’t be replacement of existing systems; rather, the goal should be adaptation and cooperation.

During his plenary session presentation, Mike Gucwa of Stanford University succinctly described how automated vehicles (AVs) could lead to more VMT, based on his simulations of San Francisco Bay Area travel. Assuming current residential patterns, a 4-8 percent VMT increase is plausible, simply due to more efficient traffic flows (because connected self-driving vehicles could travel closer together, improving speeds) and driving-hassle reductions (as perceived values of travel time fall, because AV occupants are free to pursue other activities while in the car). At the same time, Gucwa projected average travel times to improve overall, even with more VMT. Ken Laberteaux of Toyota raised additional land use issues (e.g., easier commute = more sprawl?) that could lead to further increases in car travel. Because average time spent per day on personal travel seems to be about the same across a wide range of times and places (known as the travel time budget), at about 1.2 hours per day, faster travel may lead to new market pressures for exurban living. Moreover, the impacts discussed by Gucwa and Laberteaux are conservative in that they do not account for the possibility of AVs traveling with no human inside, in search of inexpensive, remote parking or to pick up other travelers. Read more…

Urban Water Group Explains Water Resources to Youth

From August 5th to August 7, 2014, The Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering, with the help of the Graduate Students from the Urban Water Group, hosted “Hydraulics Fun Days” for the kids attending the Club U Summer Camps. This year the kids constructed water wheels and created a pipe line out of PVC pipes to better understand water resources.

2014 Summer Transportation Camp

This week the Department held the first annual summer transportation camp sponsored by the Federal Highway. The week-long program was designed to introduce high school students to the transportation industry as well as create a STEM focus experience. During the camp, UDOT and UTA collaborated with the department to provide off-site field trips to Warm Springs FrontRunner Control and Maintenance Facility, Jordan River Light Rail Facility, Traffic Operations Center, and an active bridge building project. The students also participated in hands on activities in the traffic and materials labs on campus.

Students Awarded ITE Intermountain Section Scholarship

Ivana Tasic and Michael Scott Shea, Ph.D. students in Transportation, received this year’s Ellis L. Mathes scholarships awarded by the ITE Intermountain Section. Each year, the Intermountain Section awards two annual scholarships for undergraduate or graduate students in the Intermountain Section area (Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Utah) enrolled in curriculum in engineering with an emphasis in Transportation. The main criteria for selection are career goals, academic record, work experience and activities in the student ITE chapter. The scholarships were awarded during the 54th Annual ITE Intermountain Section Meeting, held in Jackson, WY.