The Illinois Center for Transportation (ICT) hosted the second International Transportation Doctoral Symposium at the I Hotel and Conference Center on September 3 and 4, 2013. This doctoral forum, originally initiated in December 2012 to foster mutual collaboration between Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT), an internationally renowned university in China, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was expanded this year to include other educational institutions. Invitations were extended to transportation faculty and doctoral students from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Sweden, Northwestern University, Mississippi State University, the University of Minnesota, Rutgers University, the University of California at Berkeley, and Texas A&M University. The event attracted 100 attendees, including 80 doctoral students and internationally recognized faculty in transportation systems and pavements.
International collaboration in the field of transportation science and engineering was highlighted throughout the two-day event. Bjorn Birgisson, Vice President for Research at KTH explains, “We are hoping to increase strategic collaboration between the Royal Institute of Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Harbin Institute of Technology. The expected benefits are numerous and will certainly include both faculty and students. Students, for instance, will learn that their research challenges are actually global in character and will benefit from the multi-cultural aspect of the symposium.”
Dallas Little, Regents Professor at Texas A&M University adds, “With so many competing activities, research symposia, and journal publications, one would not want to invest time and effort and travel to attend an event unless it is worthwhile. This symposium is definitely worthwhile—I foresee a great potential for collaboration.”
At the symposium, students were given the opportunity to present their research and exchange knowledge with colleagues from other countries. ICT director Imad Al-Qadi states, “It is extremely beneficial for doctoral students to interact with their peers for the purpose of achieving professional development through networking, exchange of knowledge, and sharing research ideas.” Hani Mahmassani, director of Northwestern University’s Transportation Center, agreed, explaining, “It is always useful to know what others are doing in order to rank your work relative to the work of others. This is also a chance for students to socialize on a professional level and to appreciate peer-reviewed research.”
Presentations about pavements and systems were alternately given by faculty members and doctoral students and were followed by poster sessions where students had the opportunity to discuss their research work informally. Fifty-five posters were displayed, and students presenting the best posters for transportation systems and pavements received recognition from faculty members. Qazi Aurangzeb and Ahmad El Khatib of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Ricardo de Frias Lopez of KTH were winners for the best research in transportation pavements; Syeda Rahman of Texas A&M University and Pengcheng Shagguan of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign were named runners-up. For transportation systems research, Tanvi Jindal of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Jiwon Kim of Northwestern University were winners; Christopher Lindsey of Northwestern University and Xinming Zhang of HIT were named runners-up.
The next annual International Transportation Doctoral Student Symposium will be held at KTH in Sweden in 2014. Participating universities intend to continue to hold this event to maintain close interaction among participants.