Cross Border Transportation and Environmental/Health Issues Webinar

Cross Border Transportation and Environmental/Health Issues

Date: Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Time: 1:30 p.m. ET
Link to register:

Speaker: Dr. Henry Van, Visiting Professor of Civil Engineering, The University of Texas at El Paso

Bio: Dr. Van has over 30 years’ experience developing and implementing environmental, health and safety (EHS) strategies as an executive for several domestic and multinational energy, consulting firms, and manufacturing companies. He has worked in 30 countries with Georgia Tech, and major oil/gas, electricity, and manufacturing companies. He has also been involved in studying environmental issues along the El Paso/Juarez international border involving Rio Grande water quality studies, and air pollution impacts. He began to work on border environmental issues in 1980 in the El Paso/Juarez Metroplex area. He managed all transportation and environmental, health and safety issues for a U.S. global medical company in Juarez for seven years. Dr. Van holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Microbiology from The University of Texas at El Paso, a Master’s and Ph.D. in Environmental Science in Engineering from the University of Oklahoma. He is trilingual in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Abstract: In this presentation, Dr. Henry Van will talk about Cross Border Transportation and Environmental/Health Issues in the El Paso/Juarez Metroplex area, focusing on multifaceted, complex challenges involving very congested traffic with long wait times going from Mexico to the U.S. or vice versa. The border crossing in the El Paso/Juarez area is the same as the other major border crossings in Nogales, San Diego, and Matamoros. Critical transportation problems cause significant financial losses to major manufacturers operating in Mexico transporting products bound for the United States. Commercial and automobile traffic congestion also causes air pollution at the crossings which has become a significant health issue for people living adjacent to these border crossings.

Transportation Seminar: Automated Modular Vehicles

On Wednesday, January 27, 2021, Dr. Monica Menendez presented her seminar “Automated Modular Vehicles: Some Future Applications.”

To watch the seminar, click on this link: Automated Modular Vehicles: Some Future Applications video

Abstract: Automated modular vehicle technology (AMVT) has been gaining attention in the last few years. It consists of modular and fully automated vehicle units that can either operate individually or can be combined forming thereby a single modular vehicle of higher capacity. In this presentation, we will discuss how such technology can be beneficial to several transportation systems, ranging from public transportation to emergency medical services.

In the case of public transportation, we propose a novel flexible bus dispatching system, which offers new perspectives and enormous flexibility to better manage the dispatched frequencies and the allocation of the vehicle resources, reducing thereby the operating cost. To do so, we leverage the variable capacity capabilities of the AMVT to better address any variations in passenger demand while minimizing the impacts on the regular traffic system. To address the latter, we propose an optimization framework based on the recently proposed three-dimensional macroscopic fundamental diagram (3D-MFD) that captures the interactions between public transportation and private transportation systems.

In the case of emergency medical services (EMS), we propose a new concept of smart EMS operations to reduce response times and arrival times to hospital while maximizing service coverage. To that end, we leverage the en-route coupling and decoupling feature of the AMVT to enable the en-route transfer of patients and personnel or other resources from one vehicle to another. This could be highly valuable in areas with limited resources (e.g., rural settings) or situations with a high EMS demand (e.g., the COVID pandemic or other disasters such as the recent explosion in Beirut).

Monica Menendez is an Associate Professor of Civil and Urban Engineering at New York University in Abu Dhabi, and a Global Network Associate Professor at the Tandon School of Engineering in New York University. She is also the Director of the Research Center for Interacting Urban Networks (CITIES). Between 2010 and 2017, Monica was the Director of the research group Traffic Engineering at ETH Zurich. Before that, she was a Management Consultant at Bain & Company. She holds a Ph.D. and an M.Sc. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from UC Berkeley. During her studies there she received an NSF Fellowship and the Gordon F. Newell Award. Monica also holds a dual degree in Civil Engineering and Architectural Engineering from the University of Miami, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude.

This seminar was hosted by the USF Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Center for Urban Transportation Research, USF Student Chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers.

Automated Modular Vehicles Seminar Flyer (pdf)

Dr. Monica Menendez
Associate Professor of Civil and Urban Engineering at New York University in Abu Dhabi

Emiliano Ruiz received Student-of-the-Year award

The photo includes Emiliano Ruiz with Professor Ruey Long (Kelvin) Cheu.

Emiliano Ruiz, M.S. student at The University of Texas at El Paso, received a U.S. Department of Transportation University Transportation Center Student-of-the-Year award and was recognized at the 2021 CUTC Annual Awards Banquet on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. His thesis is titled “Assessing the Impacts of Health Benefits and Carbon Footprint in Student Parking Decisions at a University Campus” and his advisor is Professor Ruey Long (Kelvin) Cheu. Recent news on Emiliano’s work can be found here.

Managing Epidemics by Managing Mobility

Assistant Professor Samitha Samaranayake from the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University recently won a NSF grant for his project titled, “Managing Epidemics by Managing Mobility.” Other collaborators on this project are Daniel B. Work – Vanderbilt University and Benedetto Piccoli – Rutgers University.

Project Summary: 
Epidemiological models, such as the susceptible-exposed-infectious-recovered (SEIR) model and its extensions, are essential to understand how infectious diseases spread throughout a population. While impacts of travel are indirectly accounted for within the parameters that describe the overall disease transmission rate, standard models do not explicitly represent mobility. As a consequence, mobility-restricting policies can only be coarsely understood. Recent experiences with COVID-19 highlight the significant coupling between personal mobility and the dynamics of disease contagion. This has sparked renewed interest in directly modeling transportation flows through the use of spatial meta-population models. However, these efforts still typically model mobility at a very coarse level and ignore many of the complex, local-scale travel patterns and their network effects. This work aims to bridge that gap and help address questions of the following nature: i) Which communities are most likely to accelerate disease propagation throughout the network? ii) Which recurrent travel patterns are most likely to become disease vectors? iii) What combination of social-distancing and travel restriction measures are needed to safely reactivate a region? iv) Where should preventive screening be administered (when resources are limited) to minimize contagion throughout the network?