Winter 2007 E-Newsletter


UPDATE FROM THE CHAIR
Dr. Jodi L. Carson, Texas Transportation Institute

Hello all,
As we enter another calendar year, I can say without hesitation that 2006 was a success! Through the diligence of ITE volunteers and staff, the Transportation Education Council (TEC) was able to launch two new and significant products for its members:
  • Practical Problems in Transportation: A Living Repository for Use by Faculty. This product provides an ever-expanding library of topic-oriented practical transportation problems for use as class exercises by faculty. Each repository entry is based upon an actual transportation project and contains: 1) a standardized problem description that details the project scope, available data and deliverables (i.e., student tasks); 2) a complete data set to support any analysis or conclusions (as required); and 3) a final technical report detailing the project's actual outcome. This product can be accessed at www.ite.org/councils/Education/index.asp. Contact Dr. Rhonda Young, University of Wyoming (RKYoung@uwyo.edu), to contribute or for further information.
  • Recruitment Toolbox for Transportation Professionals. Involvement of the professional community in recruitment efforts is largely precluded by the time, energy and creativity requirements to develop companion transportation-related activities and exercises. This product provides an easily accessible electronic database of proven transportation-related activities and exercises intended to expose and recruit a variety of age groups (K-12) to the transportation profession. This product can be accessed at www.ite.org/councils/Education/recruitment/. Contact Dr. Jodi Carson, Texas Transportation Institute (j-carson@tamu.edu) or Dr. Stephanie Ivey, University of Memphis (ssalyers@memphis.edu), for further information.


TEC volunteers contributed to a myriad of other activities in 2006, including the development of a goal-oriented success measurement program; the provision of two Spotlight on Student Chapter Best Practices Webinars; a review of an annual parking generation and trip generation data collection proposal developed by the ITE Parking Council; and the annual selection of recipients for the Outstanding Student Chapter Award (congratulations Clemson University!), the Daniel B. Fambro Student Paper Award (congratulations Ivana Vladisavljevic!) and the Award for Innovation in Education (congratulations Kathleen Frankle, University of Maryland!). Well done!

We need your help to continue this success in 2007. In an effort to ensure that the activities and actions of the TEC reflect your desires and expectations, we are asking for your input in two ways:

  • TEC Member Survey. The TEC is conducting a member survey to determine areas of interest and desired involvement. Please take the time to provide feedback regarding existing and desired products, services and level of involvement. Contact Dr. Rod Turochy, Auburn University (turocre@auburn.edu), for more information.
  • Call for New Project Ideas. Do you have a good project idea for the TEC to tackle? Now’s the time to let us know. Please provide a brief summary of your project idea to me at j-carson@tamu.edu. Be sure to include the following information: 1) scope/purpose of the proposed project; 2) benefit/importance to ITE; 3) estimated timeframe for completion (e.g., 6 months, one year, etc.); and 4) anticipated resource requirements (e.g., total voluntary effort, <$10,000, etc.). New project ideas will be discussed during the next TEC meeting held in conjunction with the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting in January 2007 (see below). If you can’t attend this meeting, please don’t let that stop you from submitting your ideas.

You’re Invited! The next TEC meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the Eisenhower Room at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC. This meeting will provide an opportunity for TEC project updates, International ITE updates and discussion of new items of interest and required actions. The meeting is open to all existing TEC members as well as those interested in joining. Please plan to attend!

In addition, please plan to attend the following events during TRB week:

ITE Student Member Reception
Monday, January 22, 2007
6:00 p.m.–7:30 p.m.

ITE Member Reception
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
6:00 p.m.–7:30 p.m.

Both reception events will be held at ITE Headquarters, 1099 14th Street, NW, Suite 300 West, Washington, DC 20005-3438.

I look forward to seeing everyone in January. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me, any member of the Executive Committee, or any "activity leader" if you’d like to get involved, provide suggestions, or simply ask questions.

Happy Holidays!

THE TRANSPORTATION ACADEMY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS
By Dr. John Collura, Director of the Transportation Academy and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

The University of Massachusetts Transportation Center recently established the Transportation Academy to assist in meeting the life-long learning needs of transportation professionals in Massachusetts and greater New England. The intent of this article is to share the Academy's experiences and lessons learned to date and to provide guidance to other universities interested in carrying out comprehensive transportation education and training efforts in other regions of the United States.

The Academy's work plan over the past year has focused on meeting the learning needs of entry, mid and upper level transportation professionals employed in public sector transportation agencies and consulting firms. While it is recognized that there are many types of professionals in such agencies and firms, the Academy's initial target group includes engineers, planners, analysts and managers.

Motivation

The Transportation Academy at the University of Massachusetts was created to respond to the pressing need and growing debate regarding ways the United States should prepare to build its transportation professional capacity to meet national, state and local transportation goals. A consensus has emerged, suggesting that:

  • Transportation professionals must be continually educated and trained to meet the changing challenges and issues they encounter in the dynamic environment in which they work and live.
  • Key challenges and issues confronting transportation professionals related to congestion, security, safety, the environment and mobility.
  • Addressing these challenges and issues effectively demands the use of innovative strategies, concepts and techniques including intelligent transportation systems (ITS) and other integrated approaches that require transportation professionals to expand their knowledge base and develop new core competencies and skill sets.

The Transportation Academy has been designed to initiate a comprehensive effort to meet the transportation professional capacity building needs in Massachusetts and, to the extent possible, in other states in New England.

The Transportation Academy: An Overview

The Transportation Academy is housed in the University of Massachusetts Transportation Center (UMTC), a five-campus entity headquartered on the Amherst campus in the College of Engineering. The Academy is one of some half-dozen units in the UMTC designed to conduct transportation research, learning and technology transfer activities with a variety of resources provided by government agencies and the transportation industry.

Being under the umbrella of UMTC, the Transportation Academy is able to coordinate its education, training and other learning activities with the activities of other UMTC units whose missions include research as well as some education and training. Other UMTC units include the Bay State Roads Program (the Local Technical Assistance Program), the MassHighway Training Assistance Program and several research programs focusing on transportation mobility and safety. Examples of ways the Academy has interacted with each unit to promote education, training and other leaning activities include:

  • In an attempt to address new issues and challenges facing local and state transportation agencies, the Bay State Roads Program, in collaboration with the Transportation Academy and the ITSA Massachusetts Chapter, recently began to include ITS related articles in its newsletter. Articles have focused on emergency response and traffic signal preemption strategies that appear to be of keen interest to local agencies. Future articles intend to cover global positioning systems (GPS) for fleet management purposes including snow plows, highway maintenance vehicles and transit buses. The newsletter is an information dissemination tool used to provide local technical assistance and knowledge to local transportation professionals. Following the newsletter articles on a selective basis will be one-day workshops to teach local officials what they need to know about ITS and other new concepts and approaches to address local transportation problems.
  • To respond to the changing needs of state transportation professionals, the MTAP staff in coordination with the Academy and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation offered a one-day workshop in April 2006 on ITS awareness taught by NHI instructors. Some 30 state and regional transportation engineers and planners attended. The Academy also plans to offer ITE Webinars for local professionals in 2007.
  • The Academy is working directly with the principal investigators of each research project to promote the dissemination of research project results to ensure that such results, where appropriate, are integrated into learning activities such as traditional workshops, seminars and courses as well as distance learning offerings over the Internet and other innovative delivery systems.
  • While a great deal of UMTC research attention has been devoted to physical infrastructure needs, the Academy is working diligently with selected UMTC research groups to promote the conduct of research to address management, operations and planning issues and the use of ITS and other innovative technology applications. Academy staff also intends to work with principal investigators on such research projects to ensure that results are disseminated via traditional and innovative distance learning methods. The Academy is collaborating with the UMTC's Regional Traveler Information Center on campus to design training workshops to teach individuals what they need to know to operate a traveler information center and dispatch activity.
  • The Academy also hosted an NTI Rural ITS course on the Amherst campus, in which some 18 individuals participated.

Needs Assessment Conducted by the Academy

Another major activity of the Academy has been to identify and prioritize the educational and training needs, interests and preferences of transportation professionals employed in public sector agencies and consulting firms in Massachusetts and greater New England. To date, the work on this activity has included:

  • Personal interviews with key public officials at state agencies. This included meetings with the Deputy Secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office, the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Highway and their senior staff. Discussions with these individuals and other public sector agencies in Massachusetts have revealed significant interest and needs in the area of intelligent transportation planning, deployment and operations.
  • Professional needs survey distributed via the Internet. Initial survey results based on 30 responses indicate that the following learning areas are considered most important: ITS, Safety, Operations and Transportation Planning. The following learning characteristics were deemed most important: practical, real life examples, interactive (ability to ask questions), good materials and "handouts." The following learning characteristics were deemed least important: 24 / 7 access, credit granting, cost and proximity to home.
  • Focus groups. The Academy has conducted two focus group sessions (one in western Massachusetts and the other in Boston) with public sector and private sector transportation professionals. The focus groups provide an opportunity for transportation professionals to provide direct input into the development of the Academy. Participants were encouraged to discuss current learning needs and the practical aspects of meeting these needs given today's dynamic professional environment. A major result of the focus group sessions is that ITS is a priority topic as are the traditional topics of highway design and construction management

Future focus groups will consist of representatives from the State Executive Office of Transportation, Massachusetts Highway Department, Mass Bay Transportation Authority, Mass Turnpike Authority, Governor's Highway Safety Bureau, regional planning agencies, regional transit authorities, U.S. DOT regional and division offices in the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, Federal Motor Carrier Services Administration as well as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Several consultants have also been selected to participate in this task.

Gap Analysis Conducted by the Academy

The Academy has also identified gaps that exist between the desires and interests reviewed in the needs assessment discussed above and the available learning offerings through national institutes, universities, private vendors and others. Based on the results of the gap analysis, recommendations will be made to develop new educational and training activities to fill these gaps. It is worth noting here that tools employed by the Academy in the needs assessment and prioritization approach, the inventory on available offerings and the gap analysis could assist in guiding individuals in states in other U.S. regions in the development of a plan to build the transportation professional capacity required to meet the broader mission of state, regional and local agencies and consulting firms.

An example of an activity underway to assist in meeting needs includes the development of the Academy's certificate program. Certificate programs are currently being developed for ITS, transportation safety, traffic simulation modeling and public transportation management. Other subjects that will also be considered as part of the certificate program are telecommunications system applications in transportation; traffic signal systems and preferential treatments for pedestrians, emergency vehicles and transit; traffic safety; transportation and human factors; transportation and homeland security; commercial vehicle operator (CVO) credentialing and enforcement; traffic management and operations; transportation planning; public works administration; and public transit management. Certificates may include graduate credits, professional development hours (PDHs) and continuing education units (CEUs).

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats

Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOTs) are often associated with the establishment of a new program or organization such as the Transportation Academy. If one understands and anticipates these SWOTs, he or she is likely to be in a better position to administer and manage the program, to create the proper organizational structure and design an effective strategic plan to achieve programmatic goals and objectives. A brief review is presented below of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats associated with the way in which the UMass Transportation Academy has been established and its strategic plan has been designed and implemented. This is not meant to be an exhaustive treatment of all the Academy's SWOTs but simply some examples to guide individuals at universities where there may be an interest in implementing a comprehensive learning program similar to the Academy, a program directed at meeting the professional capacity-building needs in the transportation area.

Strengths

  • Access to multiple funding sources. By virtue of being based at the University the Academy is eligible to apply for certain funds available through federal and state transportation agencies (e.g., U.S. DOT UTC and Massachusetts EOT research funds) and university programs (e.g., outreach).
  • Able to pool new funding sources with existing UMTC funds. Because the Academy is housed in the UMTC with other research and training units, coordination and pooling of funding and other resources between the Academy and other UMTC units is more likely to occur than if these other units were based in some other agency on or off campus.
  • Positioned to develop curricula. Currently, faculty from several academic departments are directly involved in UMTC research and learning activities; these faculty are directly involved in the development of new degree (M.S.) and non-degree (e.g., certificate) curricula and in modifying existing curricula. As the need for changes in curricula are identified per the Academy's periodic needs analysis, implementing such changes will be easier because these faculty are directly involved in UMTC activities and understand the UMTC's broader mission and goals. Examples cited earlier are the initiation of a graduate certificate program and the inclusion of courses in the undergraduate and graduate transportation engineering curricula in ITS, traffic flow theory, highway safety and human factors.
  • Interacts daily with ongoing UMTC training activities. Central to the success of the Academy is its ability to work closely with other UMTC units such as the LTAP and MTAP described earlier. These units have the staff with the core competencies and other resources to provide training and technical assistance at the grassroots level in state and local agencies. By working with these units, the Academy is able to identify new areas for training and technical assistance. Examples discussed earlier were the inclusion of ITS as an area in which MTAP training has been offered in collaboration with the Academy and the U.S. DOT's PCB Program and NHI; another example was the creation of "ITS Corner," a column that appears in the LTAP Center's periodic newsletter tailored to meet the information needs of local public works directors, highway superintendents, transit managers, planners, emergency response personnel, policy board members and other city and town officials.
  • Active with professional organizations and other groups. Key UMTC and Academy faculty and/or staff are extremely active with major professional organizations (e.g., ITSA Mass, ITE New England Section, ACSE/BSCE) and other national and international groups (e.g., CITE, I 95 Coalition, CUTC); this proves to be important because such groups all tend to agree that continuing education and training is central to effective professional development and such groups are effective in helping the Academy, LTAP and MTAP and others promote and advertise workshops, training sessions,and other learning offerings. In addition, some of these groups offer their own learning activities, which in some cases may be appropriate to integrate into Academy activities and offered jointly.
  • Direct access to transportation professionals at all levels. Academy faculty and extended staff have access to existing professionals in the private sector and at state and local levels through the LTAP and MTAP and the professional organizations. In addition, the Academy faculty have direct contact with entry level professionals through their involvement in undergraduate and degree programs and curricula.
  • Understand the elusive concept of "learning" and differences between education, training and other learning activities. Over the years, Academy faculty and staff have participated in a variety of learning activities including degree, non-degree and less formal technical assistance programs, all of which contribute in varying ways to the development of important core competencies, skills and abilities (KSAs).

Weaknesses

  • Relies on a champion and key staff. The Academy, as is the case with many organizations and programs, depends on a prime mover-key staff; if such people leave, the future of the Academy may be uncertain.
  • Requires that different units within the UMTC work in concert. The importance of the willingness of UMTC units working together and, where appropriate, pooling resources cannot be overemphasized.
  • Lacks a permanent funding source and other reliable revenue streams. The success of many organizations is dependent on fiscal stability and certainty; at present, the Academy is operating with limited direct funding which supports minimal Academy staff who, as described above, works in coordination with the other UMTC units.

Opportunities

  • Demonstrate university's awareness and willingness to be involved in PCB effort. The establishment of the Academy shows that the UMTC is aware of the importance of being involved in the PCB efforts among with government agencies, professional organizations and industry.
  • Ensure that available PCB activities are fully utilized. As described in this case study, there are many PCB activities underway through U.S. DOT, NHI, NTI and industry. A major aim of the Academy is to make sure transportation professionals at the state and local levels as well as in transportation consulting firms take full advantage of these PCB activities.

Threats

  • The mission of the Academy may concern the staff of existing transportation education and training programs. An effort has been made to ensure that staff in existing training programs do not become concerned and get the impression that the Academy's intent is to inappropriately duplicate, displace, or compete with their ongoing training activities. On a positive note and, more importantly, the Academy staff has successfully assisted staff in other programs in expanding their reach and scope of coverage and as a result added value to their programs. In addition, Academy staff has also initiated discussions with faculty at other universities to explore collaborative teaching arrangements where appropriate

Summary and Conclusions

This article briefly presents a review of the accomplishments and lessons learned by the Transportation Academy at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. An underlying premise on which the Academy has been established is that there are numerous ongoing learning activities underway both on campus and off campus, including education, training and other learning activities promoted and offered through government agencies, national institutes, professional organizations and industry and that the Academy will promote the use of these ongoing activities fully to meet the urgent, immediate learning needs before developing new learning activities. In addition, the Academy will, as necessary, create new learning activities such as the certificate program and other activities that are appropriately developed jointly by academic and non-academic units on campus such as the College of Engineering and the University Transportation Center Programs including the LTAP and other technical assistance and research units. The intent of the article is to share the Academy's experiences and lessons learned to date and to provide guidance to other universities interested in establishing comprehensive PCB efforts in other regions of the United States.

Acknowledgments

The preparation of this article was funded by U.S. Department of Transportation Professional Capacity Building (PCB) Program under the auspices of ITS America. Presentations on the Academy were delivered at the ITS World Congresses in 2005 and 2006 and at the ITS America 2006 Annual Meeting.

The author would like to thank the following individuals for their support and assistance in the activities of the Transportation Academy:

  • Ron Giguere, U.S. DOT, ITS Professional Capacity Building Program
  • Larry Schulman, ITS America
  • Suzanne Sloan, U.S. DOT Volpe Center
  • Chris Ahmadjian, Director of the Massachusetts Local Technical Assistance Center, University of Massachusetts Transportation Center
  • Karen Dodge, Massachusetts Technical Assistance Program, University of Massachusetts Transportation Center
  • Micheal DiPasquale, Transportation Academy, University of Massachusetts Transportation Center
  • Noreen Hazelton, University of Massachusetts Transportation Center


STUDENT CHAPTER GRANT OPPORTUNITY
The ITE Coordinating Council and International Board of Direction has approved a grant project to have ITE student chapters conduct focused trip generation and parking generation studies. The grant program provides $5,000, which will be allocated in five $1,000 grants, to the top rated ITE student chapters that respond to a request for proposals (RFP). The program is aimed at facilitating student chapter mentoring, providing a real-life experience for participants, collecting needed data and providing funds for students that can be used to offset Annual Meeting travel costs. This process follows a similar program developed in the ITE Western District (www.westernite.org/datacollectionfund/data_collection.htm).

The data collected will be field counts of key land uses where limited trip and parking generation exists today. An RFP will be issued in January 2007 to ITE student chapters through the listserv tools. Each student chapter that is awarded a grant will complete a trip/parking generation study for a selected land use. It is anticipated that about 80 person-hours will be needed to complete the survey work and data summary.

Look for more details through the ITE Faculty Advisor and Student Leadership listservs in January 2007. The RFP will be due in February 2007 and awards made in March 2007 for completion in June 2007. If you have questions, e-mail Randy McCourt at rsm@dksassociates.com or call 503-243-3500.

OPERATIONS ACADEMY SENIOR MANAGEMENT PROGRAM
In March 2007, 25 transportation professionals from throughout the United States will be participating in a two-week total immersion transportation management and operations senior management program.

As the emphasis on transportation management and operations increases, the demand for personnel with skills in these areas is also increasing. The Operations Academy is designed to address these needs. It is based on the concept of total immersion in the subject of transportation management and operations, using a mix of classroom instruction, workshops and analysis of existing systems to ensure the retention of the principles being presented. The academy will provide opportunities to practice and internalize the principles learned which is not possible in traditional classes and short courses. The program is offered by the University of Maryland Center for Advanced Transportation Technology (CATT). Acceptance for the March program was extremely competitive and required the nomination of a local, state, or federal transportation agency. Once admitted to the program, a commitment is required on the part of those attending the program to satisfy the self-study requirements and to spend two uninterrupted weeks participating in the program activities. The rewards for participating include: national recognition of graduates, certificates of accomplishment, Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and the involvement of supervisors from the participant's home organization.

The Operations Academy senior management program is designed for mid to high level managers whose existing or future responsibilities include transportation management and operations. There are two offerings of the Senior Management Program in 2007: March 12-23, 2007 and November 5-16, 2007.

The development of the Operations Academy has been funded by the I-95 Corridor Coalition. Other supporting organizations include the National Transportation Operations Coalition (NTOC), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and ITE.

We will let you know the results of the first offering of the program. If you want more information about the program, visit www.operationsacademy.org.