MNTRC Newsletter Vol 19, Issue 3: Winter 2012

UDM holds annual transit camp


Pamela Rhoades Todd, Principal Investigator, Summer Transit Camp

University of Detroit Mercy News – University of Detroit Mercy held its sixth Transit Summer Camp, in which students from the greater Detroit area spend a week at the University exploring transportation engineering as a career. They also learn how transit systems affect their communities. The summer program focuses on underrepresented  students, with collaboration among university, corporate and government partnerships.

Transit students in class.

Students give up a week of summer vacation to learn about transit.

Traffic, transit problems studied

Hands-on projects, guest speakers from industry, field trips, and expert university input from civil and manufacturing engineers provided information that opened new career ideas for the students. Specific topics included traffic control management, vehicle infrastructure integration, social justice in transportation and flow of transportation concepts, identification and innovative solutions to transit and paratransit problems, the history of transit, and workforce development issues. Each morning, students heard from corporate and university speakers, and in the afternoon, they worked with the LEGO SMART MOVES Curriculum and Challenge.

Diverse speakers and perspectives provided

  • Pamela Rhoades Todd, Director of Pre-College Programs, College of Engineering and Science, welcomed the students and gave them an overview of the Department of Transportation grant and the objectives of Transit Camp.
  • Tiffany Gunter, representing the Southeast Michigan Council of Government, explained current rail initiatives, including the funding needs and the politics of starting projects.
Students on field trip.

Students enjoy their field trip to the Road Commission for Oakland County.

  • Peter Guenther, a high school teacher, presented lessons from the LEGO SMART MOVES Curriculum. These hands-on activities directly relate to the lectures. Students designed and programmed robots, and competed on the final day of class.
  • Christina Heximer and members of  the Detroit Collaborative Design Center spoke about “Architecture of Urban Planning and Transportation,” including transportation flow from the perspective of urban planning and land use.
  • Dr. James Lynch, UDM professor, discussed the civil engineering profession. This lecture was the cornerstone about all fields of engineering.
  • UDM faculty member Dr. Alan Hoback presented “Social Justice in Transportation.”  It included a lively discussion about political and social influences that can affect transportation decisions. 
  • Cheryl Gregory from Spalding DeDecker spoke about perspectives from a traffic engineer.  She  brought equipment that allowed students to test maglev transit and how velocity and mass can affect an accident.
  • A field trip to the Road Commission for Oakland County is always the highlight. This is a professional facility that shows how traffic is tracked and controlled. Presenters Dawn Bierlein and Danielle Deneau provided an overview of current and future technology that helps control traffic safety and flow.
  • Dr. Utpal Dutta of the UDM faculty demonstrated a computer simulation that helped students understand “Traffic Flow at Signalized Intersections.”  Students left this session thinking about important intersections in their neighborhoods and why many of them have problems.

Program participants conducted final testing of their robots and final tweaks to their PowerPoint presentations for the closing ceremony and competition.