Traffic21 Women in Transportation Fellow Completes Summer Internship with Aurora

September 2, 2021
Posted in What's Happening

September 2, 2021

During summer 2021, Carnegie Mellon University student and Traffic21 Women in Transportation Fellow Hajra Shahab worked with the Government Relations team at Aurora. Hajra details her experience by saying, “It was an exhilarating experience as I got to work very closely with engineering, safety, and product teams. I was able to deep dive into the understanding of how autonomous vehicles can be made more accessible for people with disabilities. My internship spanned over 12 weeks and I got a chance to learn about different functions of Government Relations. Aurora’s GR team is uniquely placed in the company which gave me a chance to collaborate closely with other teams to define a roadmap for accessible autonomous vehicles for rides product. Working at a company that is redefining the future of transportation made each day challenging yet exciting.

 

Welcoming New Traffic21 Women in Transportation Fellow Maggie Harger

July 30, 2021
Posted in What's Happening

July 30, 2021

Mobility21 UTC welcomes Traffic21 Women in Transportation Fellow for 2021-2023, Maggie Harger.

Maggie is pursuing her Master of Science in Public Policy and Management with an interest in transportation policy. Prior to her time at Carnegie Mellon, she completed her undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies from Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA, and worked as a mobility coordinator for the North King County region near Seattle. This role involved working with city planners, local human service providers, elected officials, and regional transit agencies to identify transportation challenges for populations with unique mobility needs, including older adults, people with disabilities, and low income individuals.

Maggie hopes to continue learning about the intersection of efficient transportation, environmental sustainability, and economic advancement during her time as the Traffic21 Women in Transportation Fellow. In her spare time, Maggie can be found exploring the many bike paths of Pittsburgh.

Learn more about the Mobility21 student leaders here: https://mobility21.cmu.edu/about/leadership/student-leadership/.

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The Traffic21 Women in Transportation fellowship provides financial support to an incoming student who is entering either the Carnegie Mellon University Heinz College MSPPM (Public Policy and Management) or MISM (Information Systems Management) degree programs.  Students who have demonstrated an interest and commitment to Intelligent Transportation Systems are eligible to apply for the fellowship.  The fellow’s work supports the Mobility21 University Transportation Center’s activities.

Summer Transportation Internship Program for Diverse Groups Awards Internship to CMU Student

March 19, 2021
Posted in What's Happening

March 19, 2021

As part of the Summer Transportation Internship Program for Diverse Groups, MS research assistant Devin White has been awarded an internship at the US Department of Transportation in the Federal Highway Administration Center for Accelerating Innovation.  Devin is advised by Traffic21 Director Chris Hendrickson and UTC researcher Dr. Corey Harper.

 

Survey of Brick Roads Led by CMU

December 18, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

December 18, 2020

Mobility21 UTC research assistant Erick Shiring participated in a graduate Capstone course and recent study of Mt. Lebanon’s brick roads. They presented their results to the Mt. Lebanon Board of Commissioners.  This study was led by Anna Siefken of the Scott Institute, along with graduate students Yunxi “Luna” Hu, Rachel Bukowitz, and Shunyu “Charlotte” Rao, who participate in the Heinz College Systems Synthesis program .  Read the article here.

WTS Pittsburgh Chapter Honors CMU Student Sharika Hegde

August 11, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

August 11, 2020

The Women in Transportation Seminar Pittsburgh Chapter 2020 Sharon D. Banks Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship Recipient honoree is CMU student Sharika Hegde.

The award winner “Sharika J. Hegde is a senior at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) majoring in Civil & Environmental Engineering with a minor in Computer Science. Sharika is interested in intelligent transportation systems, shared mobility, and connected and automated vehicle technology. Combining her experience in transportation and computing, she is also interested in using machine learning and data analytics techniques to tackle issues within the transportation domain.”

The write-up in the WTS program also stated that “Sharika has completed numerous internships, most recently at FHWA’s Saxton Transportation Operations Laboratory, where she supported their Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment program and CARMA platform. During this internship, Sharika authored a paper on connected vehicle data privacy, which she then presented at the 2020 Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting. On-campus, Sharika served as the 2019 President of CMU’s student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. She is also involved with transportation research at CMU, as a researcher at Prof. Sean Qian’s Mobility Data Analytics Center. Sharika will continue her education and research by pursuing a Ph.D. in transportation systems in the fall of 2020.”

RISS Update – Participant Continues Progress with XPlane11 Flight Simulator

July 24, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

July 24, 2020

Mobility21 UTC’s Robotics Institute Summer Scholars (RISS) program participant Fausto Vega continues his work, exploring more about aerospace.

“My experience with RISS has been great as I have learned about the aerospace field which is a career I hope to pursue in the future. I am grateful for the weekly workshops, speakers, and the members of the Air Lab as they have allowed me to grow as a researcher.”  Watch a short video where Fausto explains more about his experience and project here.

Carnegie Mellon’s RISS Program is an eleven-week summer (June 1 to mid-August) undergraduate research program that immerses a diverse cohort of scholars in cutting-edge robotics projects that drive innovation and have real-world impact. Launched in 2006, RISS is among the best and most comprehensive robotics research programs for undergraduates in the world.

RISS Update – Program Surpasses Participant’s Expectations

July 20, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

July 20, 2020

Mobility21 UTC’s Robotics Institute Summer Scholars (RISS) program participant Beverley-Claire Okogwu continues to interact and excel as her project explores getting agents to overcome ambiguous and sub-optimal behaviors of humans in Human-Robot Interaction.

One thing I am certainly proud of while conducting my research is my ability to thoroughly read and understand the basic ideas of research papers, and utilizing these ideas (algorithms, open source ware) into the simulator. I believe this is an important skill as I advance in my educational and career interests…So far, the RISS experience has surpassed my expectations due to its remote nature. I have interacted with a lot of people and have discovered a variety of online resources and platforms that I may not have found in an in-person setting. ”

Carnegie Mellon’s RISS Program is an eleven-week summer (June 1 to mid-August) undergraduate research program that immerses a diverse cohort of scholars in cutting-edge robotics projects that drive innovation and have real-world impact. Launched in 2006, RISS is among the best and most comprehensive robotics research programs for undergraduates in the world.

Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition Quarterly Meeting

June 12, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

June 9, 2020

Traffic21 Professor Rick Stafford and his Heinz College masters student, Demitra Kourtzidis, participated in the quarterly meeting of the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition (KTFC) to engage with Pennsylvania transportation policy stakeholders.  Rick and Demitra are conducting research on past and future transportation funding alternatives.

CMU Master of Language Technologies Student Yulan Feng Contributes to the 2020 CMU Symposium on AI & Social Good

April 24, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

April 24, 2020

CMU Master of Language Technologies Student Yulan Feng contributed to the 2020 CMU Symposium on AI & Social Good by presenting on “CMU GetGoing: Dialogue System Designed for Seniors.”  Yulan works with Mobility21 UTC Researcher Maxine Eskenazi on the project “CMU GetGoing Dialogue System.” The 2020 CMU AI and Social Good Symposium aims to address these challenges by bringing together AI researchers and social impact leaders to present their ideas and applications for maximizing the social good.

Mobility21 UTC at the Transportation Research Board’s Annual Meeting

January 16, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

January 14, 2020

As part of the U.S. Department of Transportation booth at the 2020 Transportation Research Board’s Annual Meeting, Mobility21 Executive Director Stan Caldwell, Program Manager, Lisa Kay Schweyer and Postdoctoral Research Associate Wei Ma staffed an demo and talked with attendees about the Mobility 21 research project “Data-driven real-time traffic prediction and management.”

CMU Student Poster Wins Best in Session at TRB

January 16, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

January 16, 2020

Rick Grahn, a PhD student in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Carnegie Mellon University displayed his poster on “Are travelers substituting between Uber and public buses? A case study in Pittsburgh, PA” at the TRB Annual Meeting this week. The poster won “Best in Session.” The poster session was a part of the ‘Standing Committee on Public Transportation Planning and Development’.

Mobility21 UTC at the Consumer Electronics Show

January 8, 2020
Posted in What's Happening

As part of the U.S. Department of Transportation booth at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show, Mobility21 Executive Director Stan Caldwell and Postdoctoral Research Associate Wei Ma staffed an demo and talked with attendees about the Mobility 21 research project “Data-driven real-time traffic prediction and management.”

CMU Student, Noel Lau, Receives Scholarship at APTA Conference

October 13, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

October 13, 2019

Noel Lau, a Civil and Environmental Engineering graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University  traveled to New York City to attend the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) TRANSform conference and receive her scholarship award.  Lau was able to personally thank the sponsors of her scholarship, network with other scholarship recipients, participate in APTA’s mentorship program as a mentee, and sit in on committee meetings.  Attending workshops on critical topics such as the effects of mobility on community health, safe and secure deployment of new systems, and the goals of research in the field, gave her a sense of the organization and inclusivity of the transportation industry, as well as unique experiences into what real-world conversations between policy and technology look like.

RISS Program Participant to CMU Employee

September 30, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

In June, the Mobility21 UTC welcomed Tessa Guengerich as part of the CMU Robotics Institute Summer Scholars (RISS) program. By the end of August, she was offered a job as a Robotics Engineer and began working for Carnegie Mellon University at the National Robotics Engineering Center.

During the spring, Tessa was an undergraduate student at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.  She graduated with her bachelor’s in chemical engineering in May and arrived in Pittsburgh for the summer program hoping to learn more about machine learning, programming and the implementation of robots outside of academia. Tessa was a part of the 2018 RISS cohort and said she was excited to return to Pittsburgh. She was eager to learn more about things she wasn’t exposed to before (computational statistics and machine learning) and was also excited to be surrounded by other students from around the world.

Carnegie Mellon’s RISS Program is an eleven-week summer (June 1 to mid-August) undergraduate research program that immerses a diverse cohort of scholars in cutting-edge robotics projects that drive innovation and have real-world impact. Launched in 2006, RISS is among the best and most comprehensive robotics research programs for undergraduates in the world.

As she explains, “On the Mat Sinking project with RISS mentor Isaac Isukapati, Project Scientist, at CMU’s NREC: National Robotics Engineering Center, I’m learning a lot about computational statistics and algorithms, and I’m coding in C++ for the first time. I’ve faced a bit of a learning curve, but it’s a challenge I’ve been able to face thus far. The overall project is to write a scheduling program for robotic arms performing specific tasks — for example, given X robotic arms and Y objects, what’s the best course of action for the robotic arms to move those objects safely and efficiently? My contribution to the project is to write a statistical simulator to test the performance of the scheduler with a specific set of parameters, to see where the scheduler performs well and where it fails.”

By the end of the summer RISS experience, she had been encouraged to apply for a job at the National Robotics Engineering Center. She was hired on as a full-time Robotics Engineer and is now continuing her work on the Mat Sinking Project.

Before beginning her summer RISS program Tessa was unsure what her next steps would be. She says she is thrilled to be in Pittsburgh. She loves the people in Pittsburgh, noting everyone is super friendly. Tessa said everyone at her new job has been supportive and helping her get acclimated.

CMU Transportation Club Kicks off Fall 2019 Semester

September 20, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

September 20, 2019

The CMU Transportation Club held its first meeting of the new academic year today.  Mobility21 UTC Women in Transportation Fellow, Bonnie Fan co-facilitated the meeting.  Attendees included students from across the university  studying policy, infrastructure, architecture, and data.  The agenda included a review of data projects, a traffic management site visit, and the development of a mentorship program with the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Women in Transportation Seminar.  In addition, Mobility21 UTC Program Manager, Lisa Kay Schweyer provided an overview of the UTC and ways students could be involved.   CMU students interested in joining the club should complete this form: https://tinyurl.com/cmu-transpo-19.

Update from Tessa Guengerich, CMU Robotics Institute Summer Scholar

July 29, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

July 29, 2019

In June, Mobility21 welcomed Tessa Guengerich as part of this year’s  CMU Robotics Institute Summer Scholars (RISS) program. Currently an undergraduate student at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, she arrived in Pittsburgh hoping to learn more about machine learning and programming and learn more about the implementation of robots outside of academia. Tessa said she was excited to learn about things she wasn’t exposed to before (computational statistics and machine learning) and was also excited to be surrounded by other students from around the world.

Photo from UBTech competition
SCS, 190718B, UBTECH, Robotics Institute, July 18 2019.  Tessa on right.

Six weeks later, Tessa provided this update on her experience:

On my project with Isaac [Isukapati, Project Scientist, at CMU’s NREC: National Robotics Engineering Center], I’m learning a lot about computational statistics and algorithms, and I’m coding in C++ for the first time. I’ve faced a bit of a learning curve, but it’s a challenge I’ve been able to face thus far. The overall project is to write a scheduling program for robotic arms performing specific tasks — for example, given X robotic arms and Y objects, what’s the best course of action for the robotic arms to move those objects safely and efficiently? My contribution to the project is to write a statistical simulator to test the performance of the scheduler with a specific set of parameters, to see where the scheduler performs well and where it fails.

Photo from UBTech competition

Participating in RISS has also exposed me to other areas in robotics I’ve never seen before, like the DJI and UBTECH workshops. During the DJI workshop we had to set up the software development kit for a small drone, and then use that SDK to program the drone for a race of sorts. First of all–I’ve never worked with drones or been forced to think about their specific challenges, so working with my team to think about wind and tuning parameters was surprisingly fun to me. Second, I found it fun to work with four students from such different backgrounds to complete the challenge. Two of the students had experience with drones and were able to take the lead, helping and teaching along the way. It was new for me to be in the situation of getting help from a peer on a common goal (and not for individual assignments or school group projects, where most students have similar sets of skills.)

Photo from UBTech competition

For the UBTECH workshop, we were again placed in teams and tasked with programming a humanoid robot to complete a task of “rescuing” stuffed animals and placing them in “safe” zones. The challenge was two-fold. First, we were expected to connect to the humanoid robot via bluetooth and control it with a gaming controller. Then we needed to connect specific buttons on the controller to specific movements in the robot, and test that functionality. My contribution ended up being to set up the software development kit for the gaming controller to connect via bluetooth (which I had learned a lot about in the DJI workshop). I also helped my teammates to fine-tune the movements of the robot for walking to and grasping the animal. Again, all of this was pretty far out of my comfort zone, but I had a great team that managed to balance each other’s skill set.

Photo from UBTech competition

We’ve also had the privilege of hearing and seeing a lot of presentations from different faculty members at CMU about their research. That has also been an eye-opening experience. As a Chemical Engineering student, most of the talks were outside of my traditional curriculum, but that’s exactly what I’ve enjoyed most about RISS — learning about research I wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise, and trying my hand at tasks that initially intimidated me.

Carnegie Mellon’s RISS Program is an eleven-week summer (June 1 to mid-August) undergraduate research program that immerses a diverse cohort of scholars in cutting-edge robotics projects that drive innovation and have real-world impact. Launched in 2006, RISS is among the best and most comprehensive robotics research programs for undergraduates in the world.

CMU Student Noel Lau Awarded APTA Scholarship

July 26, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

July 26, 2019

CMU Civil Engineering graduate student, Noel Lau was awarded an American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF) scholarship. As part of the award, Noel will attend the national APTA conference in October, where she will have the opportunity to attend workshops and sessions as well as meet with industry professionals from across the country.

CMU Students Making an Impact in a Big Way, Far Away

July 3, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

Article By Bruce Gerson

Four students took a meaningful and fulfilling winter-break trip they’ll never forget.

Christina Ou, Cathy Fang, Melina Driscoll and Ashley Burbano, members of Carnegie Mellon University’s Engineers Without Borders (EWB), traveled to Nyadire, Zimbabwe, where they spent two weeks at the town’s United Methodist Centre helping the small community of about 2,000 people. Their trip was twofold: They followed up on their chapter’s four-year solar street light project and began a new effort to improve the cooking system for a local school.

Read more…

 

Students from PA Rural Robotics Initiative Visit CMU

July 3, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

June 27, 2019

Today, 15 students from the Franklin Area High School went to Carnegie Mellon University for the day. The students, all part of the PA Rural Robotics Initiative, traveled almost 2 hours each way to get a glimpse into some of CMU’s programs and resources.

Organized and supported by CMU’s Mobility21 University Transportation Center and the Robotics Institute, the visit included:

  • A discussion of transportation & technology
  • An introduction to making traffic “smarter”
  • A tour of the NavLab where the students saw and learned about autonomous vehicles
  • A tour of the Field Robotics Center where the students learned more about aerial robotics
  • A networking lunch where the students met and talked with members of the 2019 CMU Robotics Institute Summer Scholars cohort

When asked what she thought of the experience, Grace said “I really enjoyed learning about the autonomous vehicles and our discussions with the summer scholars. Thank you, CMU!”

Tim Heffernan, the Executive Director of the PA Rural Robotics Initiative said “Although geographically Carnegie Mellon isn’t too far from home, sometimes these types of opportunities and institutions seem worlds away to these students. Having the chance to meet the summer scholars and interact with the world’s best in their professions will change how these kids view themselves and their futures. We couldn’t be more excited about, and grateful for, the opportunity that our friends at CMU have provided for these young people. Events like today have a positive impact on our kids and our region.”

In addition to the students and Mr. Heffernan, five chaperones accompanied the group:

  • Mrs. Jill Foys, Northwest Commission, Director
  • Mr. Trenton Moulin, Bridge Builders Community Foundation, Executive Director
  • Mr. William Vonada, Cranberry Area School District, Superintendent
  • Dr. Jody Strausser, Clarion University of Pennsylvania, Associate Professor Computer Information Science, PA Rural Robotics 2019 Volunteer of the Year
  • Mr. Albert Abramovic, Venango County Commissioner. He said he was impressed with the day’s program and was grateful for the opportunity to join the students for the day.

One of the Mobility21 UTC’s focus areas is Education & Workforce Development.  Research and technology is only one half of the new mobility equations. The transportation industry is being deluged with disruptive technologies just as its current, aging workforce faces mass retirement. Educating, training and inspiring the currently and next generation of transportation professionals is critical to the success of new technology. Helping coordinate and participate in the visit from the PA Rural Robotics Initiative is one way the Mobility21 UTC is engaging the next generation of transportation professionals.

Learn more:

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In 2018, Franklin Area High School had four lonely VEX robots that students traveled around Pennsylvania and West Virginia with, searching for teams to compete against. Fast-forward to the end of this June and those four robots have 180 new companions right next door. Together they make up the Pennsylvania Rural Robotics Initiative, a consortium of 11 school districts, one technology center, and an intermediate unit that all share a common robotics platform and curriculum. Twenty-five schools, covering five counties, have found like-minded friends in higher education, business and industry, state and local government, non-profits, and regional economic and workforce development that not only support their initiative but help it to thrive.

The Traffic21 and Mobility21 Institute’s leadership team have been trusted advisor since the conception of PA Rural Robotics and continues to look for ways to support their mission. Both faculty and graduate students from the Robotics Institute are working to bring CMU and these young STEM students together. PA Rural Robotics was also excited to find themselves partnered with a team of CMU undergraduate students as part of the 2019 Information Systems Spring Project. The Office of Outreach and Engagement have provided a menu of options that can further the CMU connections as the initiative grows. The most recent Carnegie Mellon connection was with the CMU CS Academy. PA Rural Robotics plans to introduce their member schools to the CS1 course and discuss the potential it could have in expanding computer science offerings within all of the member districts.

Mobility21 Fellow Attends ENO Leadership Development Conference

June 7, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

June 2-7, 2019

Mobility21 UTC’s 2018 – 2020 Women in Transportation Fellow, Bonnie Fan, participated in the Eno Leadership Development Conference this week in Washington, DC.   Fan won a scholarship to attend the conference through the Council of University Transportation Centers.Photo of ENO Cohort

Eno is a non-partisan transportation think-tank started by William Phelps Eno, the “Father of Traffic Safety,” who famously invented the stop sign.  The Eno Leadership Development Conference is an opportunity for up and coming student leaders to tap into ENO’s strong network and leadership development programming.

Fan referred to the conference as “…something between a transportation policy crash course, a week-long networking session with industry titans, and a nerdy sleep-away camp for graduate students.”

Fan reported feeling intimidated at first but quickly started to feel at ease as the twenty students started discussing bike-ped access, VMT funding and then falling asleep to conversations about autonomous vehicle regulation. Fan noted that she learned just as much from the other fellows as she did from the sessions themselves.

The ENO learning experience is structured around a barrage of panels. Eno president Rob Puentes and Eno Weekly’s Jeff Davis provided high level insights into transportation industry trends and policy.

Photo of some ENO Fellows on Bicycles in DCThe panels balanced representation from different organizations – trades, DOT, associations, industry – as well as perspectives – political, federal, local, private. Each speaker also took time to illuminate the path they took and advice on how they got there.

The whole week’s events are considered “off the record” – which meant the panelists could speak very candidly.  The fellows learned more about the interplay between organizations, as well interesting disconnects.

Fan said one of her major takeaways was a desire to incorporate lessons and standards established in aviation around automation, operations and safety into other modes.  She is excited to take the lessons learned and connections made from this experience into her academics and work.

Learn more:

Photo of ENO Cohort in front of the US DOT

Carnegie Mellon University student, Sharika Hedge, Spending Her Summer at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center

June 3, 2019
Posted in What's Happening

June 3, 2019

Carnegie Mellon University student, Sharika Hedge, is a senior at CMU, majoring in Civil Engineering with a minor in Computer Science.  She is currently an intern at Leidos in the Transportation Solutions Division, but is spending her summer as a contractor at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center. Her team, FHWA’s Saxton Transportation Operations Laboratory (STOL), works on national connected and automated vehicle (CAV) research, develops new CAV technology, and increases the accessibility of these technologies to various state DoTs.  She also participated in the attended the Traffic Safety and the 5.9 GHz Band Conference in Washington D.C on June 3, 2019.

Last summer, Hedge was a CEE Summer Research Fellow at CMU’s Mobility Data Analytics Center, under the guidance of UTC Researcher Sean Qian, as well as a part-time Transportation Software Intern at Michael Baker International. Hedge’s interests are primarily in ITS, data analytics, and CAV systems. Currently, she is working on a variety of data visualization and CAV research projects this summer, including FHWA’s Cooperative Automation Research Mobility Applications (CARMA) platform.