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UTEP Engineering Students Selected to Compete in Worldwide Contest

UTEP Engineering Students Selected to Compete in Worldwide Contest.
UTEP Engineering Students Selected to Compete in
Worldwide Contest: (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 is headed to Stuttgart, Germany this week to compete for the prestigious Mondialogo Engineering Award and a cash prize.

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

The teams were nominated for the award by an international jury of experts. Students will take part in the Mondialogo International Symposium on Nov. 6, where they will present their projects and winners will receive a gold, silver or bronze award. The total prize money of about $444,000 will be split among all the teams, based on which award they receive.

Partnering with UTEP are two Chinese universities, Nanjing Forestry University and Southeast University. Their 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 Ph.D. student Luis Galicia.

“This gives us the opportunity to showcase the research we have at UTEP,” said Kelvin Cheu, Ph. D., associate professor at UTEP’s civil engineering department and team advisor.

UTEP and Chinese students worked 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,” Cheu said. “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.”

“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.”

- Arleene Barrios