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UTEP Students Named Finalists in International Engineering Contest

UTEP Team of Civil Engineering students selected as finalists for the Mondialogo Engineering Award
UTEP Team of Civil Engineering students selected as finalists
for the Mondialogo Engineering Award:
(left to right) Gabriel Valdez, Carlos Duran, Marilyn Valdez,
Luis Galicia and Jorge Martinez.
A team of Civil Engineering students from The University of Texas at El Paso has been named finalists in a worldwide contest for engineering students.

Thirty teams from 28 countries were named finalists of the Mondialogo Engineering Award. UTEP was selected from among 932 project proposals that were submitted from 94 countries.

Partnering with UTEP are two Chinese universities, Nanjing Forestry University and Southeast University. The project, titled “Simulation Tools to Promote Roundabouts as Green, Safe and Low Cost Intersections,” aims to reduce air pollution, accidents and fuel consumption and to enhance landscaping at intersections.

UTEP’s team includes master’s students Carlos Duran, Marilyn Valdez, Gabriel Valdez, Jorge Martinez and PhD student Luis Galicia.

“When this competition was announced we thought it would be a good idea to get the students together since we already have a faculty and student exchange agreement with Southeast University,” said Dr. Kelvin Cheu, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering and team advisor.

In this project, students will work together to develop simulation modeling guidelines for the evaluation of roundabouts. Simulation models developed based on these guidelines will enable engineers in China to better promote roundabouts as green and safe intersections.

“Part of our role is to teach them (Chinese teams) how to use a particular software program that can simulate different kinds of roads, including roundabouts. We have used this software in our senior design projects and other research projects so we have experience with it.”

According to Dr. Cheu, studies have shown that roundabouts reduce gas consumption and emissions and can reduce waiting time for drivers since most of the time drivers need only to slow down at roundabouts, instead of coming to a complete stop.

The project proposal was written by the students, collaborating with their teammates in China.

“It was challenging because there is a 14 hour time difference,” said Marilyn Valdez. “We had to find different ways and times to meet using Skype.”

Teams were nominated for the award by an international jury of experts. They will travel to Stuttgart, Germany in November to take part in the Mondialogo Symposium, where they will present their projects and winners will be announced. Gold, silver and bronze awards will be presented. The total award prize money is €300,000.

“We were the only team selected with a project in transportation mobility and security,” said Jorge Martinez. “We were pretty excited about that. It’s a great opportunity to work with people from different countries and from different backgrounds. At the conference we’ll get to meet people from all over the world.”