2015 Transportation Camp

The Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Utah hosted the second annual National Transportation Summer Institute Camp on July 13 – July 17, 2015. The department hosted 21, incoming, 9th grade students. The camp targeted students who are interested in exploring engineering, specifically transportation engineering, as a career.

As part of the camp, the students worked on creating a video for the American Road & Transportation Builders Association video contest. Students divided into four groups and covered various topics about transportation. Groups focused on defining transportation engineering, explaining how infrastructure is built and paid for, cost of transportation infrastructure, and new innovation and design of traffic systems. Students spent time learning about these topics throughout the week and interviewed each other about what they learned. At the end of the week, each group gave a short presentation on what they learned about their assigned topics.

One of the camp activities included listening to various speakers from Union Pacific, UTA, UDOT, Salt Lake City, and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Students were able to interact with industry professionals and ask questions about the different aspects of transportation engineering.  A favorite activity of the students was driving the simulator in the Civil Engineering Traffic Lab. Students also tested the speed of cars driving around campus with radar guns. The students participated in numerous field trips throughout the week including visits to the TOC at UDOT, several construction sites in the local area, as well as the Front Runner and Light Rail facilities. The week wrapped up with the students testing concrete materials in the lab that they had created earlier in the week.

Overall, the camp was a great success. The participants enjoyed the field trips and learning more about transportation engineering.

2015’s Best & Worst Cities to be a Driver

Professor Daniel Fagnant was featured in WalletHub’s recent piece about 2015’s best & worst cities to be a driver.  
What money saving tips do you have for drivers? 

Be sure that your tires are properly inflated. Do not carry excess weight in the back of your car, unless you are intending on using those items. Avoid rapid acceleration and braking. If a traffic signal turns red, take your foot off the gas and coast towards it, rather than continuing at speed then braking abruptly. Drive carefully to avoid getting in a collision.

Will new automation technologies like the self-driving car help reduce accidents and congestion? 

Automation technologies will help reduce crashes. Already technologies like lane keeping and automated forward collision braking are providing real benefits to road users. Self-driving cars must also necessarily be safer. Simply stated – they will never be allowed on U.S. streets if less safe than an average human driver, and they are not vulnerable to many human failures like intoxication, distraction, inattention, or even aggressive driving. With over 90% of collisions attributed primarily to human causes (as opposed to environmental or vehicle issues) and over 30,000 annual road deaths in the U.S., vehicle automation has the potential to save countless lives. Moreover, they are likely to become much safer over time. The average 16-year old driver is not much safer than a 16-year old driver twenty years ago, while the power of a computer has increased by orders of magnitude over the same time frame. Self-driving cars should follow a similar path as computers, continually improving and becoming increasingly safe.

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