Simulating transportation for realistic engineering education and training: Engaging undergraduate students in transportation studies

Chen Fu Liao, Henry X. Liu, David M. Levinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The practice of transportation engineering and planning has evolved substantially over the past several decades. A new paradigm for transportation engineering education is required to engage students better. Simulation tools have been used by transportation professionals to evaluate and analyze the potential impact of design or control strategy changes. Simulation, which can effectively convey complex transportation concepts, is particularly valuable in transportation education. The use of simulation in transportation education gives students the opportunity to apply different control strategies in a risk-free environment and teaches them transportation engineering methodologies. Despite its advantages, simulation has not been widely adopted in transportation engineering education. Its use in undergraduate transportation courses is sporadic; the reported efforts have been primarily in upper-level technical elective courses. A suite of web-based simulation modules has been developed and incorporated into undergraduate transportation courses at the University of Minnesota. The Simulating Transportation for Realistic Engineering Education and Training (STREET) research project was recently awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation to develop web-based simulation modules, to improve instruction in transportation engineering courses, and to evaluate their effectiveness. The ultimate goal of the STREET project is to become the epicenter for the development of simulation-based teaching materials that provide undergraduates with an interactive learning environment. Given the hands-on aspect of simulation, the hope is that its use will improve student understanding of critical concepts in transportation engineering, and will also enhance student interest in transportation engineering and thereby increase their presence in the field. The intention is to disseminate the results and teaching materials to other colleges so they can integrate these online modules into their curricula.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-21
Number of pages10
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number2109
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


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