Challenges Facing Transportation Engineers

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Janice Daniel: My area is in traffic operations, how do we move people more efficiently on the roadways. And so because of that I would say one of the biggest challenges is congestion. And I don’t think that’s just an urban area problem. I think no matter where you are living in you’re going to be impacted by congestions, your goods have to come to your small community, sometimes a congested location.

The other is safety and security. Safety is a big issue, it’s a priority from the national government, the federal government wants us – we’ve tolerated 37,000 people a year being killed in our roadways for many years and we thought that was a norm. And now there’s a change in mindset and now we’re saying “No, let’s go to zero fatalities” and that’s now the goal and the new objective.

Security we’re still defining what that is, it’s something relatively new to the area of transportation but being able to understand how do we work now in this environment that we live in because no matter what’s happening with us through our climate or whether it’s through threats that’s happening through our nation it impacts transportation.

And then the third area is one of the ways that we’re trying to combat congestion, we’re trying to deal with safety and even security is through the use of technology. So we have all these new technologies that are coming online and people are trying to see how can we do this in a much smarter way, how can we move people and goods in way that’s much more efficient using technology, how can we provide safety and security to the travelling public and we’re using lots and lots of technology.

So these are the challenges that we face and within our program this is again spread throughout the curriculum. We’re making students aware of it. We might be assigning projects associated with it. They might be doing papers within this particular context. So we have the skill sets within the faculty that are here, that are looking at all of these areas, and the students as they take different courses, as they sprinkle throughout the curriculum, as they take even specific courses that deal with these topics we’re trying to address some of these core critical areas that are facing civil engineers today.