Transportation Research Board recognizes Iowa State civil engineering three times at annual meeting

TRB Soil Mechanics Section Chair Njoroge Wainaina (left) recognizes former civil engineering graduate student Kam Ng (middle) and Professor Sri Sritharan (right) for Soil Mechanics Section Best Paper Award. Dordt College student Danielle DeBoer and Iowa State Department of Transportation engineer Kenneth Dunker also contributed to the winning paper (not pictured).

TRB Soil Mechanics Section Chair Njoroge Wainaina (left) recognizes former civil engineering graduate student Kam Ng (middle) and Professor Sri Sritharan (right) for Soil Mechanics Section Best Paper Award. Dordt College student Danielle DeBoer and Iowa State Department of Transportation engineer Kenneth Dunker also contributed to the winning paper (not pictured).

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies recognized Iowa State Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering (CCEE) on three different occasions at the 2013 TRB Annual Meeting, held in Washington, D.C., January 13-17.

A student research team won at the TRB Transportation Forecast Competition. Another CCEE team earned the Best Paper Award for TRB’s Soil Mechanics Section. A third team garnered TRB’s Patricia F. Waller Award.

Transportation engineering graduate students V. Dimitra Pyrialakou, Dimitrios V. Bilionis, Mohammad S. Shaheed, and Bo Wang achieved first place at the TRB Transportation Forecasting Competition for their origin-destination estimation. (“Origin-destination” estimation was one of two competition options that were judged separately. The other option was short-term traffic prediction.)

Their project was to estimate the complete origin-destination table for a given real-world transit network consisting of two rail lines, based on incomplete transit data. The goal was to develop an elegant solution using data easily available to transit agencies (such as boarding and alighting counts) that resulted in the most accurate representation of the actual passenger trips between the transit stations. They proposed a solution based on the entropy maximization method, or in other words, finding the most probable pattern passenger volume within the transit network. Predicting passenger volume within a schedule is important for station area design, including corridors, escalators, elevators and the boarding platform, Pyrialakou said.

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An Iowa State student team of transportation engineering graduate students won the Origin-Destination problem of the 2013 TRB Transportation Data Forecasting Competition. From left: Mohammad Shaheed, Dimitra Pyrialakou, Assistant Professor Nadia Gkritza, Dimitrios Bilionis, and Bo Wang. Assistant Professor Jing Dong also advised the team (not pictured).

“Forecasting is a crucial part of civil engineering,” said Pyrialakou. “Successful predictions of future conditions are the basis of efficient transportation systems and infrastructures, both for their design and operation.”

The Iowa State team placed first of 30 teams from around the U.S. The team was selected based on best accuracy of predictions as well as the quality of a short paper describing the approach. Pyrialakou and her team spent three months developing the solution to this origin-destination problem while Assistant Professors Nadia Gkritza and Jing Dong advised them.

At the same TRB Annual Meeting, former CCEE graduate student Kam Ng (now assistant professor at the University of Wyoming) and CCEE Professor Sri Sritharan garnered Best Paper Award of the Soil Mechanics Section. Their paper, “Verification of Recommended Load and Resistance Factor Design (LRFD) and Construction of Piles in Cohesive Soils,” concludes that the newly developed LRFD procedure for Iowa would not significantly increase the pile design and construction costs in cohesive soils. Dordt College undergraduate student Danielle DeBoer, and Kenneth Dunker of Iowa Department of Transportation Office of Bridges and Structures co-authored this paper.

2011 civil engineering doctoral graduate Hillary Isebrands and Professor Shauna Hallmark won TRB’s Patricia F. Waller Award, an outstanding paper on transportation safety and system users. Their winning paper, “Statistical Analysis and Development of Crash Prediction Model for Roundabouts on High-Speed Rural Roadways,” concludes that roundabouts in urban areas (traditionally understudied) dramatically reduce car crashes, including car crashes that result in injury. Isebrands is now a safety specialist for the Federal Highway Administration.

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) is one of six major divisions of the National Research Council. The National Research Council is jointly administered by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine.

For more on transportation engineering research at Iowa State, go to www.ccee.iastate.edu/research/transportation.

 

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