Release Date: October 17, 2008
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A new transportation research specialization at the University at Buffalo School of Engineering and Applied Sciences will provide New York State's government agencies and municipalities with access to innovative technologies and systems that address critical transportation issues facing the region and the nation.
As a first step in the development of the new specialization, UB has appointed its first transportation engineers, Professor Adel W. Sadek and Assistant Professor Qian (pronounced Chen) Wang of the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering.
Sadek, formerly of the University of Vermont, is an expert on the application of information technology and advanced computing to transportation problems. He studies the use of such new technologies as collision avoidance systems, adaptive traffic control, and dynamic route guidance to increase safety and efficiency.
He also has studied how the synchronization of traffic signals could save time and fuel, especially during snowstorms. Sadek already has obtained federal funding to apply innovative computational simulations to study driving patterns and behaviors on UB's North (Amherst) Campus as a test case for wider use of these models.
Wang focuses on the use of transportation economic principles and behavioral modeling techniques to plan sustainable transportation systems. She studies the supply-and-demand relationship of transportation infrastructure and has developed a tour-based travel demand forecasting model that captures journeys that include multiple stops before a vehicle returns to a home base. Understanding the behavioral factors affecting travel provides a more precise view of transportation demand.
"The new transportation engineering emphasis at UB fills a critical research need in the upstate New York region, particularly in light of deteriorating infrastructure, rising fuel costs and the need to serve a diverse and aging population with 'intelligent' and environmentally sustainable technologies," said A. Scott Weber, Ph.D., chair and professor of the UB Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, in which the new specialization is based. "Here in Western New York with its rich history as an international border crossing and Great Lakes transportation hub, we are uniquely situated to develop real-world solutions to pressing issues facing both passenger and commercial transportation."
The first graduate students with a specialization in transportation engineering enrolled at UB this fall.
UB's transportation research thrust will focus on improving traffic flow and developing intelligent transportation systems, in which information technologies are used to better manage transportation; develop technologies that promote more efficient, safe travel during inclement weather, particularly during upstate New York's harsh winters; develop collision-avoidance sensors for roads, bridges and vehicles, and more integrated land-use and infrastructure management, funding and planning.
Weber said that the new emphasis combines and leverages existing strengths throughout the university and is directly connected to several UB 2020 strategic strengths.
"UB already has a number of very talented faculty throughout the university doing research in transportation systems," he continued. "The new transportation engineering emphasis fills a critical need in the existing strengths and will serve as a nexus for building a wider transportation-systems research focus across the campus."
UB's well-established and internationally renowned strengths in civil and structural engineering, particularly in the physical protection of transportation infrastructure, provide an excellent foundation for the new transportation engineering emphasis, added Weber.
The new specialization will glean additional strength from expertise in other departments and schools at UB, ranging from extreme event mitigation and land-use and urban planning to dynamic routing of vehicles and driving simulation.
Infrastructure management, in particular, is a concern that is relevant to the region and the nation, Weber said.
"Many of our nation's transportation systems were built in the 1960s and they are now at the end of their life," he said. "It's a huge issue to figure out which components to rebuild and how to optimize appropriations, given budgetary limitations. This need is even more critical given the uncertain financial times we face in New York State and the nation."
Within the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, departments or centers currently involved in some aspect of transportation research include computer science and engineering, electrical engineering, industrial and systems engineering, MCEER, the Research Institute for Safety and Security in Transportation and the New York State Center for Engineering Design and Industrial Innovation.
Other faculty members who conduct research on transportation are based in urban and regional planning in the School of Architecture and Planning; economics, geography and the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis in the College of Arts and Sciences; the Center for Transportation Injury Research in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and the Center for Computational Research.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system that is its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.