UT Engineering Delegation Visits Beijing, Discusses Collaborations

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KNOXVILLE — This summer, four members of the College of Engineering faculty and staff at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, traveled to Beijing, China, to begin a formal alliance between the Center for Transportation Research (CTR) and Beijing Jiaotong Transportation University (BJTU). Stephen Richards, associate professor of civil engineering and director of the Southeastern Transportation Center (STC), David Clark, CTR director, DeAnna Flinchum, STC co-director, and Lissa Gay, managing editor of the Journal of Transportation Safety & Security, met with BJTU officials, directors and researchers to discuss areas of collaboration and sign letters of intent for these collaborations.

Xuedong Yan, Lissa Gay and DeAnna Flinchum look on as Chunfu Shao, Steve Richards, Tao Tang and Dave Clarke celebrate signing letters of collaboration.

Three areas are the initial focus of this collaboration:

• Shared support of the Journal of Transportation Safety & Security. This agreement will support one or two special issues each year, facilitate editorial input from transportation researchers in Asia and co-sponsor an annual international Conference of Transportation Safety & Security.

• Establishing the International Laboratory for Driving Simulator Studies. Participating universities to date are BJTU, UT, Kunming University of Science and Technology, Texas Southern and the University of Central Florida.

• Exchange of transportation students and faculty between the BJTU and UT transportation engineering programs.

The seeds for this collaboration were sown in 2007 when Xuedong Yan joined the STC staff as its director of research for transportation safety. Yan and Richards, along with the College of Engineering and the Tennessee State Board of Architects and Engineers, established the UT Driving Simulator Lab in Perkins Hall. They also created the Journal of Transportation Safety & Security, the first academic journal dedicated to these issues. When Yan joined the faculty of the School of Transportation at BJTU in 2010, this international collaboration in driving simulator studies, expansion of the journal, and exchange of students and faculty between the programs became possible.

Besides the formal signing, the UT delegation toured BJTU’s Railroad Museum, their impressive High Speed Rail simulator laboratory, and the many transportation-related facilities and labs on their campus. Deans, professors and lab directors made presentations about their research history and capabilities, and the group from UT gave presentations about CTR research and publications.

Clarke’s journey began several days earlier as he traveled to National Taiwan University and met with T.C. Kao, chief engineer for China’s High Speed Rail System, and Rex Lai, a member of the rail program faculty. Clarke rode the High Speed Rail from Beijing to Tianjin to observe the system as a passenger.

While in Beijing, Yan arranged visits to historically important sites: the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, the Great Wall and the Summer Palace. As they traveled to these sites from central Beijing, the UT visitors experienced firsthand some of the transportation triumphs and challenges of moving more than 22 million residents through Beijing on foot, in taxis and personal autos, via city buses, on the metro, and by passenger trains. The current estimate is that there are 4.5 million motor vehicles on the roads in Beijing. Two of Yan’s doctoral students shepherded the group through the intricacies of this complex system.

Now that the foundation has been laid for collaborations in research, publishing and educational programs, the CTR expects an ongoing and fruitful exchange between the UT College of Engineering and Beijing Jiatong Transportation University.

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