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CONTACT: Ann Overton
                     Virginia Transportation Research Council
                     (434) 293-1912
October 28, 2006


Three From U.Va. Receive 'Best Paper Awards'
at 55th Virginia Transportation Conference

CHARLOTTESVILLE – Three University of Virginia engineering graduate students recently received Best Student Paper Awards at the 55th annual Virginia Transportation Conference, held recently in Roanoke. The fourth award winner in the student paper contest is from Virginia Tech.

The annual conference is jointly sponsored by the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Virginia Department of Rail & Public Transportation, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, the Virginia Port Authority, the Virginia Department of Aviation and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

This is the third year the Virginia Transportation Conference has held its student paper contest. Winners in each category received a $1,000 cash prize as well as complimentary attendance at the conference. They also each presented their winning papers during the three-day meeting. Twenty-two papers were submitted this year.

“Congratulations go to this year’s winners,” said Gary R. Allen, VDOT’s chief of Technology, Research & Innovation, and conference director. “The results of the research documented these winning papers demonstrate that these four are part of the vanguard of the new professional who will be shaping our transportation future in the 21st century.”

The three winners from U.Va. are Lance Dougald, Nilesh Joshi and Alexander Linthicum. Edgar de Leon Izeppi of Virginia Tech is the fourth winner. (Each is shown receiving his award from VDOT’s Chief Deputy Commissioner Gregory Whirley.) The following is information about each winner and their paper:

  • Photograph - Lance Dougald receives Best Paper Award in the Transporatation Mobility categoryLance Dougald – Transportation Mobility category, sponsored by Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc.: Performance Analysis of Virginia Department of Transportation’s Safety Service Patrols: A Case Study Approach. The paper concentrated on the quantifiable benefits of VDOT’s Northern Virginia Safety Service Patrol program, including determining the duration of traffic incidents with and without the safety service patrol’s assistance along the interstates. The case study found that safety service patrols operating in Northern Virginia between June 2004 and May 2005 resulted in a 17 percent reduction in incident durations and a $5 million benefit to VDOT. Dougald received a B.S. in geology with a specialty in engineering geosciences from Radford University in 1994; he received his M.S. in civil engineering from U.Va. in 2006 with a concentration in transportation engineering. He is an associate research scientist at the Virginia Transportation Research Council, VDOT’s research division and a VDOT partnership with U.Va., in Charlottesville.
  • Photograph - Nilesh Joshi receives the Best Paper Award in the Transportation Safety category Nilesh Joshi – Transportation Safety category, sponsored by AAA Mid-Atlantic: Safety and Equity Considerations for the Prioritization of Highway Projects. The paper proposed how best to account for social equity along with traffic, crash risk and cost in allocating capital highway projects around a region. It showed that equity considerations can be a deciding factor among project allocations that are about equal, based on the metrics of risk, performance and cost. Joshi received an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from the Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology, Nagpur, India, in 2000, and a master’s in engineering in manufacturing engineering and MBA from the University of New Mexico in 2004. He is currently working toward his doctorate in systems engineering at U.Va. and is a research assistant in the Center for Risk Management of Engineering Systems.
  • Photograph - Alexander Linthicum receives the Best Paper Award in the Transportation Policy categoryAlexander Linthicum – Transportation Policy category, sponsored by Transurban: Analysis of Demographic Data to Examine Multimodal Investment Potential of Virginia’s Statewide Transportation Corridors. The paper addressed how to coordinate the efforts of the various modal transportation agencies across Virginia’s 11 major multimodal corridors. It used demographic and other data in geographic information systems to screen the corridors for locations in which to make near-term investments in multimodal facilities. Linthicum received his bachelor’s in systems engineering from U.Va. in 2001. Before returning to U.Va. in 2005 to pursue his master’s in systems engineering and urban & environmental planning, he was an IT consultant with Arthur Andersen and BearingPoint and developed expert computer systems for Mitretek Systems, a not-for-profit research firm. He is also a research assistant in the Center for Risk Management of Engineering Systems
  • Photograph - Edgar de Leon Izeppi receives the Best Paper Award in the Transportation Applied Technology category Edgar de Leon Izeppi – Transportation Applied Technology category, sponsored by T.Y. Lin International Inc.: Application of Digital Image Technology for Measuring Uniformity in HMA (hot mix asphalt) Pavements. The paper discussed the application of imaging techniques in a system for measuring the uniformity of newly constructed pavements using a Gray Level Co-Occurrence Matrix, commonly used in visual texture analysis. Testing of the system was conducted at VDOT’s Smart Road at Virginia Tech, where it was shown to be able to identify different pavement surfaces. De Leon received all three degrees in civil engineering: B.S., 1983, Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, M.S., 1985, Virginia Tech, and Ph.D., 2006, Virginia Tech. In Guatemala, he worked on a government maintenance project financed by the World Bank and as an engineering consultant; he is pursuing post-doctoral research at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and is an adjunct instructor in Virginia Tech’s civil engineering department.