Michigan Students Win National Transportation Technology Tournament

The National Operations Center of Excellence (NOCoE) announced today, that a student team from the University of Michigan won the second annual Transportation Technology Tournament, a partnership between NOCoE and the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT).

The tournament took place during the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Annual Meeting in Austin, TX. The University of Michigan team presented their solution entitled Corridor Management in the I-75/I-696 Influence Area, to a panel of prestigious private and public sector judges to win the award. They were among five finalist teams to make presentations. The other teams were from Florida International University, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and two teams from the University of South Florida.

The University of Michigan team’s solution focused on mitigating heavy, peak hour traffic volume on I-75 between Detroit and Troy, MI and on east and westbound I-696 in the Detroit suburbs. Their proposal included a supply focused solution managing the flow of vehicles, and a demand focused solution reducing car trips by using shuttles and car-pooling to the area’s major employers, such as General Motors and Chrysler. 

Patrick Son, NOCoE’s Managing Director said the Michigan team’s solution was imaginative and completely deployable. “These students developed practical solutions to a problem that has stalled Southeast Michigan for decades. There is virtually no room to add capacity, yet the team came up with a suite of ideas that involved TSMO and Intelligent Transportation strategies to create a low cost, workable solution. That’s exactly the kind of ingenuity we need as we address crucial workforce issues ahead,” he said.

Team members Alex Sundt, Yan Zhao and Xiatong Sun said they were confident but surprised by their win. “We are very excited,” said Sun. “We had the confidence after yesterday’s rehearsal but today we listened to other’s presentations, and we thought they were also very good.”

Alex Sundt said the kinds of skills the teams learned will be crucial as they move into their careers. “Knowing how to present to government agencies and to important people, and how they want to listen to a presentation, that pitch style, I’ve never gotten that in my education before, so this was a big help,” he said.

Yan Zhoa concurred. “We learned that soft skills are really important. We are used to solving equations and we are used to presenting in front of a lot of academic people but when we solve real-life problems, we have to present our solutions to people who may not be familiar with equations. We have to explain the details and our reasoning behind it. That will be really helpful in my future.”

Among the other finalists:

  • Florida International University – TSMO Solutions to Mitigate Wrong-Way Crashes on Arterials
  • University of Tennessee – A New Tool for Signalized Intersection Performance Assessment
  • University of South Florida Team #1 – Improving Pedestrian Safety Through ITS Solution
  • University of South Florida Team #2 – How Can Modular Vehicles Bring Flexible Capacity to Transit Systems?
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