A student team from University of Massachusetts-Lowell took top honors at the 2021 Transportation Technology Tournament hosted by the National Operations Center of Excellence, an American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Center of Excellence program.
The annual Transportation Technology Tournament challenges student teams to solve real-world transportation problems by leveraging existing infrastructure and maximizing the use of operations and Intelligent Transportations Systems strategies.
The tournament – a partnership of the U.S. Department of Transportation ITS Joint Program Office Professional Capacity Building Program (ITS JPO PCB) and NOCoE – seeks to build on transportation curriculums by teaching problem solving, communications, and team building skills with students with a variety of educational backgrounds.
The winning team from UMass-Lowell featured students from both civil engineering and computer science departments who proposed equipping existing traffic video cameras with automated data collection and incident detection features – exemplifying how low-cost solutions can easily retrofit legacy ITS equipment to maximize both service life and benefits.
“The 2021 winning team sets the example of why we hold this tournament each year,” said Adam Hopps, NOCoE’s interim managing director, in a statement. “The team focused on leveraging existing infrastructure, using knowledge from multiple disciplines, and did an excellent job communicating their solution to the judges.”
Finalists delivered a 10-minute presentation to the panel of judges from the public and private sector and academia. Judges ask detailed and pointed questions to challenge the teams on their solutions cost, lifecycle benefits, maintenance, and overall feasibility. The two other finalist teams this year were from the University of Memphis, which tackled problems featuring safety solutions for a mountain pass and truck parking.
“We continue to see our student teams develop multimodal solutions to improve the safety of the traveling public and maximize the use of emerging technologies,” Hopps added.
“The trainings and education provided by the ITS JPO PCB program equip our student participants to tackle these challenges and propose solutions that are often ready for implementation,” he said.
NOCoE noted the 2021 finals were a standalone virtual event held during USDOT’s ITS JPO T3 webinar series. In 2022, NOCoE and the USDOT’s ITS JPO PCB hope to return to holding the finals in person at the Institute of Transportation Engineers Annual Meeting as previously done in 2018 and 2019.