The Seth Bonder Camp for Computational and Data Science

Activity #1: Excite High School Students about Transit via Summer Camp

We will leverage the Seth Bonder Summer Camp in Computational and Data Science for Engineering, supported by a generous gift from the Seth Bonder Foundation. The camp, available in both face-to-face and online versions, is intended for high school students interested in engineering who have no or minimal background in data science and computer programming. The camp teaches high-school students the basic foundations of computing through Snap!, a visual programming language that makes it easy for students to dive quickly into algorithmic concepts and applications. The camp is supervised by Dr. Van Hentenryck and an army of amazing graduate and undergraduate students who share a passion for teaching, technology, and applications for societal benefits. Through the T-SCORE Center, additional materials will be developed for the camp to teach students about Transit Planning and Operations. The vision is to develop an integrated camp dedicated to transportation: the machine learning, optimization, algorithmic modules will be associated with T-SCORE projects that will capture discrete choice models and routing in transportation networks.

Activity #2: Engage Undergraduate Students in Research

Although the tight budget proposed for T-SCORE does not include undergraduate research assistant funding, the universities have opportunities for add-on funding for such programs. The PURA program at Georgia Tech pays students $1500 per semester to engage in projects that interest them and enhance their education as they move toward their future work in industry or academia. Likewise, the Student Sustainability Council at UK offers grants to undergraduate students involved in sustainability projects, and the program coordinators have indicated their support for T-SCORE related projects. Learn more about our current undergraduate students here!

Activity #3: Enhance Undergraduate Course Module on Public Transit

Through a 2012-2014 grant obtained from the Southeastern Transportation Research Innovation Development and Education (STRIDE) Center, Dr. Watkins and Dr. Brakewood developed a week-long undergraduate module about the basics of transit planning, operations and design. This short module is intended for use in introductory undergraduate courses in transportation engineering and planning. These materials will be updated, expanded, and advertised through T-SCORE with the intent that more universities without faculty expertise in public transit would be able to teach the topic. Through T-SCORE, content will also be added at UKY and BYU to enhance public transportation content taught in Introduction to Transportation (undergraduate junior core course).

Activity #4: Engage Graduate Students in Transit Research

The T-SCORE budget includes funding for 9 funded graduate students to participate in the research for between 12 and 18 months each, enhancing their education as they move toward their future work in industry or academia. In addition, our universities have agreed to allow us to use overhead return to fund additional months of graduate research assistants to supplement the UTC dollars as match money. It is our intention to allow the students to collaborate and participate in quarterly research meetings to learn about the other projects within the center as well as present on their own. Funding has also been allocated for graduate students to attend research conferences to present their work. Learn more about our current graduate students here!

Activity #5: Expand Graduate Course in Transit Planning & Operations

Both GT and UTK offer a graduate level class on Transit Planning and Operations both in-person and via distance education. This specialized graduate course was again developed as part of the STRIDE grant with the aim to provide a solid understanding of public transportation systems. The modules were developed and taught through a process that included researching applicable literature, interviewing educators and practitioners, and mind mapping the core concepts. It is designed to be easily applied by instructors with limited experience in the transit industry with go-to materials freely available in an “open source” manner online. These materials will be updated, expanded, and advertised to universities through T-SCORE. They will also be used to enhance and update Urban Transportation Planning at BYUa first-year graduate course, and the graduate Public Transportation course at UK.