Improving Transportation Safety and Preparing the Next Generation of Civil Engineers – CUNY Institute for Transportation Systems

by Gabriel Rivera

The CUNY Institute for Transportation Systems (CUNY-ITS), in conjunction with the Department of Civil Engineering at CCNY, supports the creation of transportation systems that prioritize sustainability and efficiency by preparing engineers and transportation planners to design, create and run these systems.

CUNY-ITS research deals with structural engineering mechanics, environmental engineering and water resources, and transportation engineering.

This research is conducted through the University Transportation Research Center (UTRC), a consortium of 19 universities located in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Established as a federal program in 1987, the UTRC has partnered with federal and local agencies to supplement education, research, and the implementation of findings into real-world applications designed to improve infrastructure and transportation technologies.

Research performed by CUNY-ITS through the consortium is funded by federal agencies, like the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Transportation, numerous regional and local agencies, including the New York City Department of Transportation, New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and state departments of transportation (New York and New Jersey), and other private companies.

The UTRC is hosted on CCNY’s campus, and several of the college’s faculty members are involved with the center’s research and activities.

Dr. Camille Kamga, an associate professor of civil engineering at CCNY, is the director of the UTRC. After earning his doctorate in Transportation Engineering from CCNY in 2006, he began working with UTRC, becoming the director of the research center in 2012.

“UTRC was established in order to support research, education, and the transfer of technology in the field of transportation. Our researchers provide a critical link in resolving our national and regional transportation problems while training the professionals who address our transportation systems and their customers on a daily basis,” Dr. Kamga said.

Dr. Kamga is involved with the NYC Connected Vehicle Project (CVP), an initiative to significantly reduce traffic-related deaths and road accidents through the creation and rollout of connected vehicle technology.

The safety applications involved in the connected vehicle technology being developed by CVP count on vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), and infrastructure-to-pedestrian (IVP) communications to ensure roads are safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Connected vehicle technology uses wireless communication that integrates drivers with drivers in other vehicles (V2V), roadside infrastructure (V2I), and smart devices to alert drivers in real-time, allowing them to avoid crashes and reduce the severity of accidents.

The technology also aids in IVP communication by connecting mobile devices to advanced roadside infrastructure, helping visually impaired pedestrians cross roads safely.

“In the U.S., it is estimated that between 30,000 to 40,000 people died annually in motor vehicle traffic crashes,” Dr. Kamga said. “So it’s important to decrease it and with this technology, the projection is that it can decrease traffic-related accidents by 85% to 90%.

The U.S. Department of Transportation partnered with NYC DOT to make the five boroughs one of three locations nationwide to test this technology.

Dr. Kamga, along with the UTRC, collaborates with more than a dozen other stakeholders in testing this technology by integrating it into vehicles that will be driven around New York City, thus allowing his team and CVP to collect and analyze data on its performance.

Through research projects like CVP, the consortium aids CUNY-ITS by uniting students and faculty from different disciplines and universities to address urgent transportation needs in the region and prepare the next generation of transportation and civil engineers.

“The main goal is education, make sure the students get educated into advanced transportation engineering, and research helps us fulfill part of that, by providing some training to the students who get involved in these research projects,” Dr. Kamga said.

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