The Transportation Research Internship Program (TRIP) is designed to provide undergraduates an exciting opportunity to learn about transportation (engineering, planning, and policy) and to participate in cutting edge research projects along with faculty and graduate students. The experience takes place over the summer semester and is particularly valuable to students interested in pursuing advanced studies and/or a career in the field of transportation. Five students participated this year and were involved in a variety of projects from Crash Prediction and Traffic Management to Retaining Walls and Freeway Facilities Analysis.
Cory is in his last year at UF earning a Civil Engineering/Economics Dual-Degree. Cory has long been interested in alternative perspectives to Transportation Engineering and in exploring the research aspect within this discipline, and he thought TRIP would be the perfect opportunity to pursue these interests. Under the guidance of Dr. Siva Srinivasan, Cory assisted with the Crash Prediction Method for Freeway Facilities with Managed Lanes project, which investigated the safety on freeway facilities with managed lanes with the ultimate goal of developing equations to be implemented into the Highway Safety Manual. His first task was to assist with a related literature review by compiling a bibliography documenting all existing research concerning a safety and managed lanes facilities. He then created reference tool for all existing HOV and HOT facilities in the United States, complete with relevant characteristics such as segment length, segment location, and number of lanes. Finally, he conducted a case study on the I-95 Express Lanes in Miami, Fla., using Signal Four Analytics software to collect crash records from 2006-2012 on the observed segment, and IBM SPSS Statistics 21 software to import and analyze these crash records to develop charts and graphs that could help identify trends and patterns over a multi-year period.
Cory feels his work on this project afforded him “the opportunity to analyze statistical data and identify significant trends that can ultimately find use in helping to improve existing operational roadway facilities.” During his internship, he said he enjoyed exploring areas of engineering that were previously foreign to him. This exploration gave him a better understanding of the work that occurs behind the scenes. In addition, Cory said his work on the project taught him that all possible solutions should be checked, double checked, and triple checked. “If an engineering solution seems too obvious or too clear to be correct,” Cory said, “it usually is.” He asserted the importance of establishing alternatives ways of approaching a problem “is always a good idea.”
After completing his undergraduate degrees, Cory would like to gain some work experience as a civil engineer before considering graduate school. If he decides to earn a master’s degree, he would like to pursue transportation engineering or business administration. When Cory is not studying, he enjoys playing basketball and tennis, and is sure to play his acoustic and bass guitars every day to keep his musical side in shape.
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Andrew is a senior majoring in civil engineering at UF. Under the direction of Dr. Yafeng Yin, on a project entitled Deployment Strategies of Managed Lanes on Arterials, which involved examining managed-lane deployment strategies on arterials, identifying tools to evaluate their performance, and investigating ways to coordinate the deployment and operations of managed lanes on both limited-access facilities and arterials. Working closely with Mahmood Zangui, a graduate student at UF, his main duties on the project were researching relevant articles regarding the implementation of managed lanes on arterials, and organizing that research into a coherent outline.
Andrew came across TRIP when he was looking for a summer internship related to civil engineering. He enjoyed working on his area of interest under a flexible schedule, and valued the exposure he gained to an area of research that he knew little about prior to completing the program. An especially important lesson he learned through TRIP was “that transportation engineering is a dynamic field of study with many opportunities for cutting-edge research.”
Upon completing his degree next spring, Andrew intends to apply for graduate school, and hopes to complete a master’s in civil engineering with an emphasis on transportation. He enjoys studying history in his spare time.
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Britton is a junior at the University of Wyoming studying Civil Engineering with a focus in Transportation. Her experience working with the Arizona Department of Transportation in testing and construction inspection gave her an interest in the field, so she wanted to gain experience in research. TRIP offered an opportunity to try something new and different, as well as a chance to travel to the East Coast and live in Raleigh, NC for two months, so she excitedly applied. She worked under the supervision of Dr. Daniel Findley on a project titled Retaining Wall Assessment Management, which was contracted through North Carolina DOT and aims to design and develop a database archival and retrieval system for electronic documentation, management, qualitative analysis, and display of retaining walls, especially critical walls such as those adjacent to bridges.
As the project was in its beginning stages, Britton enjoyed being a key part of the research development. As a research assistant, she worked to provide basic information on retaining walls in the form of diagrams, tables, and summaries. She then moved on to researching the state of practice that other agencies and other state DOTs have used for retaining wall asset management programs. Using this information, she determined a set number of components that all of these programs included, and began work on the project background and literature review. “My advisors gave me the freedom to take my research in any direction,” Britton wrote, “and helped me reign in the ideas with charts and summaries.”
Britton values her time on TRIP for the research experience she gained and the opportunity to work closely with distinguished researchers and engineers. She is now equipped with enough knowledge about retaining walls and asset management that she “could talk to you for hours” on the topic. Since she moved to Raleigh without her own means of transportation, she often rode her bike along sidewalks and bike lanes, and became an experienced traveler on public transportation services like buses, trains, and planes. Through these practical, first-hand experiences, she “learned more about transportation…than [she] could have ever learned from a textbook.”
Britton plans to attend graduate school to complete her master’s in transportation. Outside of her current studies, she is the Senior Resident Assistant in one of the University of Wyoming residence halls. Although she is paid for this position, she considers it a hobby because she absolutely loves her job and the impact that she can make on incoming freshmen. She also enjoys playing sports, and has played on the University’s softball team, though she is taking this year to play intramurals and fun softball games with her friends and coworkers.
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Sarah is a fourth year student at UF majoring in Industrial and Systems Engineering and Mathematics with a minor in French. She decided to apply for TRIP because she recognized it as a great opportunity to do research on some of the most current and important issues in transportation. She worked under Dr. Siriphong Lawphongpanich on a project entitled Deployment Strategies of Managed Lanes on Arterials, which involved examining managed-lane deployment strategies on arterials, identifying tools to evaluate their performances, and investigating ways to coordinate the deployment and operations of managed lanes on both limited-access facilities and arterials.
Sarah worked with Dr. Lawphongpanich and a UF graduate student to assist in compiling a literature review, which included reading and analyzing relevant research on the subjects at hand, discerning important data, summarizing said data, finding trends, identifying common and divergent findings, and summarizing the information in a coherent and organized fashion. She also helped to establish criteria for identifying conditions where managed lane projects would be feasible on an arterial road.
Sarah enjoyed collaborating one-on-one with a professor on a project commissioned by the Florida Department of Transportation, and she especially appreciated the opportunity to do important research as an undergraduate. “The most valuable lesson I learned from the program,” Sarah wrote, “was effective research methods and communicating the results of research effectively.” She has not decided on attending graduate school yet, but she is seriously considering a Ph.D. in Operations Research. Her hobbies include debate, rock climbing, and watching Florida Gators football.
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Amauris, a junior in Civil Engineering at the University of Delaware, decided to apply for TRIP because it was an excellent and exciting opportunity to explore and learn about transportation engineering. He worked with Dr. Mohammed Hadi on a project entitled, Impact Of Modeling Parameters On The HCM-Based Procedure To Estimate Reliability Of Freeway Corridors. This project analyzed the functionality of a newly developed software called FREEVAL, a computational engine for Freeway Facilities Analysis in the US Highway Capacity Manual. Amauris enjoyed the opportunity to learn about, participate in, and conduct research regarding travel time reliability, an important topic within the transportation industry.
Amauris worked together with Pei Hu, a graduate student, to compute and compare the results of the software with real life situations. He also collected data from various sources, ensured the information was relevant to the project, and input the data into FREEVAL to develop a travel time reliability estimation of Interstate 195 and State Road 826. Amauris then evaluated the schematics and engineering data that FREEVAL produced, compared them to actual results gathered in the field, and produced a report on the similarities and distinctions between the two sets of results.
Although he was nervous to spend two months in a new place away from family and friends, Amauris appreciated the opportunity to take risks and trust his instincts. His time at TRIP provided him with strong mentoring skills, an understanding of important developing concepts in the transportation engineering field, and a strengthened work ethic based on the example of his TRIP advisors, Dr. Hadi and Dr. Yan Xiao. “Thanks to them,” Amauris wrote, “I was able to finish my project and at the same time enjoy it.” He was excited to cooperate with professionals who valued his ideas and treated him “like a real engineer.” He was especially proud of the paper he and Dr. Hadi submitted to the Transportation Research board, which is currently being revised for publishing.
Amauris feels TRIP provided him with valuable experience that will serve him well as a future engineer. Participating in the program encouraged him to take a step further in his career and complete a master’s degree. Previously undecided on what concentration interested him enough to pursue in graduate school, TRIP allowed him to experience transportation engineering and he is now “very excited to get [his] bachelor’s degree, apply for the graduate school, and become a transportation engineer.” In his rare free time, he enjoys spending time with friends and family, exercising at the gym, and watching movies.Return to Top