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Lecture Series Features Industry Leaders

by Kyle Harpster

fall lecture series

Nebraska Department of Roads Director/State Engineer Randall D. Peters giving his presentation at Whittier Research Center on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus.

Last fall, the Mid-America Transportation Center concluded its 2012 Fall Lecture Series, which featured presentations by experts from the fields of transportation and engineering. The weekly lectures, sponsored in part by Union Pacific, were designed with undergraduate and graduate students in mind. The series showcased high-level industry professionals from a variety of transportation disciplines, and provided students a unique, real-world perspective not always available in the normal classroom environment.

The presentations highlighted cutting-edge industry practices and technologies that are improving the safety and efficiency of the nation’s transportation system. The lectures, which took place at different campuses across the Region VII university consortium, were streamed live via webcast.

Twelve industry leaders presented over the course of the series. Specific examples include Dave Connell, Union Pacific’s Regional Vice President of Operations, Northern Region, who presented on the current state of U.S. passenger rail, the Illinois HSR Project, and rail industry opportunities for students and professionals; or Randall D. Peters, Director of the Nebraska Department of Roads, who highlighted the agency’s strategic planning objectives and discussed the challenges engineers and planners face in maintaining 10,000 miles of road in the largely rural state.

The successful series was part of MATC’s ongoing technology transfer initiatives. Over 100 university students registered for the webinars, and the series garnered regular professional attendance. The individual presentations can be viewed by clicking the links following the paragraphs below.

Tom Clements is the Assistant Manager of Logistics Analysis at Werner Enterprises. Clements discussed Werner Enterprise’s use of technology in equipment and fuel efficiency, regulation and IT systems. He also discussed the company’s logistics analysis, including their use of business intelligence, GIS and supply chain optimization. Click here to view presentation.

Steve Garbe, a Senior Transportation Project Manager at Iteris, discussed bridge security and bridge health monitoring in the context of recent bridge reconstructions in Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. The planning and design of these projects included new field equipment and new opportunities for integration with state agencies and research universities. Click here to view presentation.

Dr. Paul Hanley is an Associate Director of the Mid-America Transportation Center, Director of the Transportation Policy Research Group at the University of Iowa Public Policy Center, and Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental engineering at the University of Iowa. His presentation focused on the funding of the surface transportation system. Hanley emphasized the need for state and federal governments to pursue alternative funding for surface transportation projects. Click here to view presentation.

Dr. Erick C. Jones, Associate Professor of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems and Engineering Director of the RAID & AutoID Deployment Lab at the University of Texas-Arlington, described his research on the benefits of radio frequency identification (RFID) license plates. This technology could help optimize transportation and logistics at the roadside and provide government agencies with accurate, real-time information. Click here to view presentation.

David Connell, the Regional Vice President of Operations for the northern region at Union Pacific, presented on the current state of U.S. passenger rail, and spoke about the company’s efforts to rehabilitate U.P.’s Chicago to St. Louis freight corridor to carry high-speed passenger trains. (No video available).

Robert Kollmar is the Executive Director of Engineering, Communications, and Train Control systems at the Association of American Railroads. Kollmar presented on the development of Positive Train Control within the railroad industry, and gave an overview of several organizations assisting the industry. Click here to view presentation.

Dr. James Noble is a Professor of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering at the University of Missouri, and Site Director of the NSF I/UCRC Center for Excellence in Logistics and Distribution. He presented a study that made an integrated analysis of enhancements to passenger and freight rail performance on the Union Pacific line between St. Louis and Kansas City, MO. Click here to view presentation.

Randall D. Peters, P.E. is the Director/State Engineer at the Nebraska Department of Roads. Peters spoke about the initial steps involved in creating the agency’s strategic planning, and discussed challenges faced by planners and engineers in maintaining 10,000 miles of road in the largely rural state. Click here to view presentation.

Dr. Eugene R. Russell, Sr., Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering at Kansas State University, discussed the basics of roundabouts, roundabout growth, and current issues and research regarding roundabouts. Click here to view presentation. Click here to view presentation.

Daniel R. Sabin is the Owner and President of the Iowa Northern Railway Company, a shortline railroad running from Manly to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Sabin presented on railroad operating and engineering managers. He also discussed how the railroad’s investments in the line have increased reliability and customer service. Click here to view presentation.

Dr. Hamid Sharif, the Charles J. Vranek Professor of Computer Electronics & Engineering, and Director of the Advanced Telecommunications Laboratory at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), presented his group’s research on the use of advanced wireless communication technologies in North American freight railroads. Sharif discussed how the safety and security of freight train operations could be improved with the proper use of wireless sensor networks. Click here to view presentation.

Dr. Dean Sicking is the former Director of the University of Nebraska Midwest Roadside Safety Facility, and a Professor of Civil Engineering at UNL. He presented a summary of roadside and high-speed track safety developments, including NASCAR’s Steel and Foam Energy Reduction Barrier, the Midwest Guardrail System, and the Minnesota Bullnose System. (No video available).

Stay tuned to MATC Update for the announcement of MATC’s 2013 Fall Lecture Series.