Las Vegas streetcar system designed by students gets media attention
Hualiang “Harry” Teng, PhD, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Proposed streetcar system.
A senior design team that includes several undergraduate engineering students from UNLV is on the way to help plan and design an electric streetcar system along Maryland Parkway connecting downtown Las Vegas to the city’s airport. The students designed this project in response to a need identified by the State of Nevada. The project was presented at a competition that drew 30 teams from the UNLV Department of Engineering. It attracted the attention of judges and local news media because it offered a practical way to transform the transportation system in Las Vegas, making it a global city. The students estimate that the 14-mile streetcar system could carry upwards of 10,000 people per day, helping to reduce congestion along Maryland Parkway.
Theory and practice converge
Not only is UNLV advocating local economic and transportation development, it is integrating its education into this process. The undergraduate students in this team took the railroad course, “Introduction to Railroad Transportation.” For their final project, they became interested in creating the streetcar system for Las Vegas.
Not only did they produce a signed document using civil engineering design tools, but they also developed a traffic simulation model using the VISSIM software. Furthermore, these students wish to continue working on this project for their Masters’ degrees. This is an exciting case in which UNLV’s railroad program moves from classroom theory to practical application.
Rail class spawns another project
In addition, another senior design team created container housing for emergency response. The students in that team also took the railroad class and sought advice on railroad-related issues in their design.
The undergraduate students working on the streetcar project are Jeffrey Brown, Jessica Menchaca, and Aurelia Grimaldi.
Dr. Teng noted his practical experience on this trip. “Instead of taking a taxi going back to the Chicago airport,” he said, “I took the subway that connects downtown Chicago and O’Hare. It is cheap and convenient, and it’s been there many years. I know that it also took many years to connect BART to the San Francisco airport. For a long time in Las Vegas, it has been considered sensible to connect the airport to the Strip. However, it still has a long way to go.”