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Engaging Undergraduate Students in Transportation Studies through Simulating Transportation for Realistic Engineering Education and Training (STREET)

Listed author(s):
  • Chen-Fu Liao
  • David Levinson


  • Henry Liu

    (Nexus (Networks, Economics, and Urban Systems) Research Group, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota)

The practice of transportation engineering and planning has evolved substantially over the past several decades. A new paradigm for transportation engineering education is required to better engage students and deliver knowledge. Simulation tools have been used by transportation professionals to evaluate and analyze the potential impact of design or control strategy changes. Conveying complex transportation concepts can be effectively achieved by exploring them through simulation. Simulation is particularly valuable in transportation education because most transportation policies and strategies in the real world take years to implement with a prohibitively high cost. Transportation simulation allows learners to apply different control strategies in a risk-free environment and to expose themselves to transportation engineering methodologies that are currently in practice. Despite the advantages, simulation, however, has not been widely adopted in the education of transportation engineering. Using simulation in undergraduate transportation courses is sporadic and reported efforts have been focused on the upper-level technical elective courses. A suite of web-based simulation modules was developed and incorporated in the undergraduate transportation courses at University of Minnesota. The STREET (Simulating Transportation for Realistic Engineering Education and Training) research project was recently awarded by NSF (National Science Foundation) to develop web-based simulation modules to improve instruction in transportation engineering courses and evaluate their effectiveness. Our ultimate goal is to become the epicenter for developing simulation-based teaching materials, an active textbook, which offers an interactive learning environment to undergraduate students. With the hand-on nature of simulation, we hope to improve student understanding of critical concepts in transportation engineering and student motivation toward transportation engineering, and improve student retention in the field. We also would like to disseminate the results and teaching materials to other colleges to integrate the simulation modules in their curricula.

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Paper provided by University of Minnesota: Nexus Research Group in its series Working Papers with number 200910.

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Date of creation: 2008
Publication status: Published in Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board 2109 12-21.
Handle: RePEc:nex:wpaper:street
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