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Transportation Research Board Conferred Best Paper Award to UTEP Faculty and Students


Transportation Research Board Conferred Best Paper Award to UTEP Faculty and Students


A research article titled "Public Preferences on the Use of Visualization in the Public Involvement Process in Transportation Planning" co-authored by Dr. Kelvin Cheu (Associate Professor of Civil Engineering), Marilyn Valdez (M.S.C.E.), Srivatsava Kamatham (M.S.I.T.) and Dr. Raed Aldouri (Director of Geospatial Information Service Center) has been awarded the 2011 Greg Herrington Award for Excellence in Visualization Research by the Transportation Research Board (TRB), the National Academies.

This award is in honor of Mr. Greg Herrington who passed unexpectedly in 2005 at the age of 40. Greg was a pioneer in the exploration and application of 3D visualization technologies to transportation planning and design while at Utah Department of Transportation. He was very active in TRB, having helped to found the TRB Visualization Task Force (the predecessor to the current Visualization in Transportation Committee). This award honors his memory by recognizing outstanding research in the field of visualization as applied to challenges and opportunities for improving transportation.

The winning paper was the result of a recently completed research project funded by the Federal Highway Administration. The multidisciplinary UTEP research team, with the help of the El Paso Metropolitan Planning Organization and Texas Department of Transportation, selected a two local transportation projects which were in the planning phase, developed 3D and 4D visualization models to exhibit the highway facility designs, presented them in public meetings and solicited feedback on the use of such visualizaion technologies. "This article is the first to document the positive experience of the public in U.S. on the use of computer fly-through and animation technologies in public meetings, and potentially paves the way for wide-spread use of such tools to improve public participation in transportation projects." said Dr Cheu.

Dr. Soheil Nazarian, Professor of Civil Engineering and Director of Center for Transportation Infrastructure Systems commented "We are very thrilled by this accomplishment. This is the first time UTEP researchers have won a TRB (a national level) award." TRB is a division of the National Research Council, which is part of the National Academies. Every year, TRB organizes its Annual Meeting which is attended by more than 11,000 transportation researchers and practitioners. The latest meeting received more than 3,800 full paper submissions. After a rigorous peer-review process, approximately half of the papers were selected for presentation at the meeting and the top 25% will be published in the Transportation Research Record: Journal of the TRB. The paper co-authored by Dr. Cheu and his team was selected jointly by the Committee on Visualization in Transportation and Committee on Public Participation for the award.

The award was presented to the authors on January 26, 2011, during the TRB Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. The two students who worked on this project have since graduated from UTEP. Marilyn Valdez, a M.S.C.E. graduate, is currently an engineer with the Federal Highway Administration. Srivatsava Kamatham, a M.S.I.T graduate from the Computer Science Department, is a Geospatial Specialist with the Lafayette Parish Assessor in Louisiana.The videos of the visualization models are available for viewing at YouTube®, and can be found by using "Spur 276" and "Bike Lane, Lisa Drive" as keywords.

Public Preferences on the Use of Visualization in the Public Involvement Process in Transportation Planning Poster

For more information about this press release contact:
Ingrid Wright at or 915-747-5971


The University of Texas at El Paso
College of Engineering
Engineering Building Room A148
500 W University Ave
El Paso, TX 79968

Phone: (915) 747-6444
Fax: (915) 747-5437

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