by Shashi Nambisan, CTRE Director
Tony Kane, center, Director of Engineering and Technical Services, AASHTO, speaks with symposium participants before lunch.
Sandra Larson, Lee Smithson, and Shashi Nambisan.
Symposium participants get a laugh during one session.
Ping Lu, ISU graduate student, during her presentation.
Successful 2007 Mid-Continent Transportation Research Symposium
The sixth biennial Mid-Continent Transportation Research Symposium, held August 16–17, 2007, in Ames, Iowa, had a record participation with 300 attendees. They came from 16 states and two other countries, Japan and Turkey. Of particular note is that 50 students participated in the symposium. The Iowa DOT had 144 participants and CTRE / ISU had 80 attendees.
We had an outstanding response to the call for abstracts, which resulted in a record number of submissions. Abstracts were reviewed by a planning committee and the accepted papers grouped into the following tracks: safety, bridges and structures, pavements, planning, ITS, traffic, weather, drivers, education and communication, and environment.
109 papers were presented in a total of 28 sessions. The presenters included students, researchers and faculty from several universities, as well as practitioners from the public and private sectors.
The stage was set for the symposium during the opening session where key representatives from Iowa State University, the Iowa Department of Transportation (Iowa DOT), and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) welcomed the participants and highlighted key challenges facing us with regard to transportation systems and infrastructure. Opening session speakers included Dr. John Brighton, Vice President for Research and Economic Development at Iowa State University; Sandra Larson, Research and Technology Bureau Director, Iowa DOT; Kevin Mahoney, Iowa DOT Chief Engineer and Highway Division Director; and Phil Barnes, FHWA Iowa Division Administrator.
In his presentation titled SHRP 2 Briefing: Accomplishments and Opportunities, Steve Andrle, Chief Program Officer at the Transportation Research Board, provided an overview of the Strategic Highway Research Program 2 initiative. He identified activities completed during the past year and those programmed for the future in the 4 program areas of SHRP2 (safety, renewal, reliability, and capacity). He also noted the success of CTRE and Iowa State University in winning several awards from these nationally competitive research programs. Steve served as Director of CTRE for about 7 years prior to his current role at TRB.
Tony Kane, Director of Engineering and Technical Services, AASHTO, made the luncheon presentation entitled A New Vision for the 21st Century Transportation: Invest in Our Future. He identified the primary objectives being to reduce congestion, keeping America globally competitiv,e and meeting the mobility needs of the 21st century. He emphasized the need for a multi-modal approach that addresses preservation of the existing system, improves system performance, and adds substantial capacity. He also outlined 10 policy priorities and the global challenges to America. Mr. Kane identified the need to provide a quantum increase in funding as a key challenge facing the nation.
During the dinner presentations, Mark Kushner, Dean of the Iowa State University College of Engineering challenged the audience to communicate more proactively with decision makers about the need for investment in infrastructure development and renewal. Then, Steve Chase, Chief Scientist, FHWA Turner Fairbank Highway Research Center made a presentation titled Future Directions for Surface Transportation Research. He discussed key factors that will shape our future and their implication for transportation systems. He also highlighted some of the research efforts and new directions and initiatives being pursued by FHWA.
Continuing the tradition of alternating hosting the symposium in Wisconsin and Iowa, next year’s symposium will be hosted by the Midwest Regional University Transportation Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on August 14–15, 2008. Additional information about the event can be found at the following URL: www.mrutc.org/midcon/. We look forward to partnering with our colleagues in Wisconsin in organizing the event. Please join us in continuing and growing this successful partnership.
Many individuals contributed to the success of the symposium. They include members of the program planning committee, and others from CTRE, ISU, and the Iowa DOT who helped with various aspects related to the details of organizing and managing the event. I thank all of them, along with the participants, for their roles and contributions that helped make the symposium a success.