Compass: October 2012

Featured Stories

CTA’s Comprehensive Plan to Restructure Routes and Schedules Shines Media Spotlight on NUTC’s Expertise.

Dr. Mahmassani SpeakingWhen Chicago Transit Authority officials decided to confront inefficiencies and passenger overcrowding on bus and rail routes, they turned to NUTC. Based on the Center’s research and analysis—which takes a fresh look at data collected from the entire system rather than isolated stations, stops, or runs—the CTA plans to add over 50 bus and train routes, shifting resources from underutilized network services. Contributing to the work were PhD students Omer Verbas, Charlotte Frei and Raymond Chan, along with Professor Joseph Schofer and Transportation Center director Hani Mahmassani.  CTA President Forrest Claypool stated: “This route restructuring, based on comprehensive review of the entire transit system, is long overdue and is the first system-wide, holistic review of CTA’s bus and rail service in 15 years.”
REPRESENTATIVE MEDIA COVERAGE: Chicago Tribune,, Progressive Railroading, NBC Chicago, The Columbia Chronicle,  Chicago Sun-Times

ICEM 2012: Second International Conference on Evacuation Modeling and Management Takes Place at the Northwestern University Campus, August 12-15, 2012

ICEM SpeakerNorthwestern University Transportation Center (NUTC) (and its DOT funded institute, CCITT) the ICEM 2012 Conference accomplished an important mission: to stimulate, formalize, and share new research projects that advance scientific insights leading to improved emergency response evacuation planning and implementation. Seventy-plus participants from 10 countries representing over 40 institutions gathered to focus on this exchange of research vantage points and findings. Learn more

Ford CEO Alan Mulally Delivers the 2012 William A. Patterson Transportation Lecture

Ford CEOMulally shared a 70-minute program on April 18, 2012 with a standing-room-only audience as he presented the 31st annual NUTC Patterson Lecture. Mulally chronicled Ford's 21st-century fall and rise—highlighting Ford’s dismal state in 2006 and its "relentless implementation" of key objectives leading to its “rebirth” as an automotive design/manufacturing powerhouse.
Ford under Mullaly leadership:

• streamlined collaboration and communication to breed innovation and accountability

• divested itself of brands such as Jaguar and Volvo, creating a single-minded focus on Ford and Lincoln

• committed to establishing a complete family of best-in-class vehicles

• accelerated new vehicle development while simultaneously matching production to demand.
Ford has now reached greater market share and profits, but Mulally acknowledged that electrification is “the next frontier” and that the industry sits at the epicenter of numerous national and global issues, including corporate responsibility, environmental sustainability, economic development and energy independence. Learn more

NUTC Members Co-host and Participate in a Multi-region Transportation Simulation Event

Business Advisory Committee member Booz Allen Hamilton conducted a “wargame” simulation organized to focus creativity and practicality on the major transportation issues facing society.  The July 23-24 event brought together business, government, academia, and transportation leaders who met in Chicago, Orlando and Washington, D.C. and then shared input via virtual AV connections. NUTC faculty and staff who were on hand to assist were Hani Mahmassani, Joe Schofer, and Bret Johnson. Also attending were grad students Charlotte Frei, Christopher Lindsey, Raymond Chan, and post-doc Andeas Frei. Several NUTC BAC members participated including Mike Burton(C&K Trucking), Craig Philip (Ingram Barge CO.), and Paul Nowicki (BNSF).  Recap and video

Transportation Deregulation and Safety: A Retrospective and Reflection after 25 Years—Symposium Held May 3, 2012

Jointly organized and sponsored by NUTC (including its Sandhouse Gang and Icarus Society forums) and the Chicago Chapter of the Transportation Research Forum—presenters and participants paused to assess the impact of transportation deregulation on safety and industry dynamics beginning with late 1970s deregulation legislation. Through the lens of the landmark 1987 NUTC conference: Transportation Deregulation and Safety, the May 3rd 2012 presenters analyzed the recent data and noted that by almost all measures safety performance has continued to improve in the motor carrier, rail, and air transportation sectors. Deregulation accomplished many of its stated goals, yet vigilance is still required amidst constant market and technological evolutionary changes. View presentations


NUTC Researchers Assist the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)

L TrainNUTC data analysis and consulting helped to create an ambitious crowding reduction plan that will reconfigure the city's commuter bus and rail networks thereby reducing the wait times for buses and trains and lessen crowding by 10 to 15 percent during rush periods.  In addition to Dr. Hani Mahmassani, Director of the NUTC, the research team includes Professor Joseph Schofer, and doctoral student researchers Charlotte Frei, Omer Verbas and Raymond Chan.  Learn more

Irina Dolinskaya Appointed Junior William A. Patterson Professor in Transportation

Assistant Professor Irina Dolinskaya, Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences (IEMS), Northwestern University, has been appointed the Junior Patterson Chair—the second chair established from the endowment honoring William A. Patterson, a central figure in the nation's air transportation industry for more than four decades. Patterson served as president and chair of United Airlines from 1934 until his retirement in 1966. He was a life trustee of Northwestern and was instrumental in establishing the Transportation Center.  Dolinskaya’s profile here

Diverse Complex Networks Have Similar “Skeletons

Traffic Network MapThe findings of the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems are generating insights that have broad implications. Dirk Brockmann, principal investigator, notes that in large scale networks, only a small number of connections are essential to accurately describe the whole. Consequently, the number of flight paths that are important to all airports is reduced to a relatively manageable number.  These form the skeleton of the international flight network. The spread of pandemics and the main relationships in ecosystems can be distilled and modeled in a similar way. “Our new method… applies across the board—and it thrives on different perspectives,” explains Daniel Grady, Post Doctoral Fellow, McCormick School of Engineering, Northwestern.

The findings were first published by the journal Nature Communications in an paper titled: Robust Classification of Salient Links in Complex Networks and picked up by numerous science news outlets including Science 2.0, RxPG NEWS, Science Codex, and ScienceDaily.  Original story here

Dr. Mahmassani Delivers Plenary Keynote Lecture at Inaugural European Symposium on Quantitative Methods in Transportation Systems (LATSIS 2012)

Dr. Hani Mahmassani delivered a plenary keynote lecture at the inaugural LATSIS Symposium, held in Lausanne on September 5 to 7, 2012.  The lecture, titled “Travel Time Reliability: A Network‐level Perspective,” provides a unifying framework for understanding flow and congestion at the network level and its connection to reliability of service. It highlights recent results of NUTC research that also involves doctoral researchers Meead Saberi, Tian Hou, Ali Zockaie and Jiwon Kim.  View presentation here

Three Northwestern Researchers Examine Disaster Relief Operations Research Models

Three Northwestern ResearchersResearchers Luis E. de la Torre, Irina S. Dolinskaya, and Karen R. Smilowitz co-authored the study entitled: Disaster Relief Routing: Integrating Research and Practice, published in the March 2012 issue of Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Special Issue: Disaster Planning and Logistics:
Part 1 (Volume 46, Issue 1, Elsevier Ltd., March 2012, Pages 88–97).  Torre is a Ph.D. Candidate in the department of Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences (IEMS) at Northwestern. Dolinskaya is an Assistant Professor in IEMS, and holds the Junior William A. Patterson Chair in Transportation. Smilowitz is an Associate Professor in IEMS.  Read more

Jonathan Hall Joins the Northwestern University Transportation Center

Jonathan HallA recent University of Chicago PhD graduate in Economics, Hall has received a two-year post doctoral appointment to pursue research in the area of congestion pricing for roadways.  He is the recipient of the prestigious Dan Searle Fellowship in Economics. The Searle Fellowship provides an annual stipend of $75,000 to support Hall’s period of research at Northwestern.

NU Professor Aaron Gellman Speaks on Developments at the Panama Canal

During a Northwestern University Transportation Center seminar “The Panama Canal as Precursor,” Professor Gellman provided an overview of the Panama Canal Expansion Project.  He discussed various issues relating to the Canal expansion and operation, including the pricing and scheduling challenges the Canal is facing, particularly as it relates to the expansion; how the Canal expansion is impacting freight logistics patterns; and its overall operational challenges. View his presentation here

News from the Business Advisory Committee (BAC)

Ann M. Drake, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of DSC Logistics Inc. to Receive the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' (CSCMP) 2012 Distinguished Service Award

Ann DrakeDrake will be honored at CSCMP's Annual Global Conference in Atlanta this October.  CSCMP presents the award annually to an individual who made significant contributions to the art and science of supply chain and logistics management.  She is first woman among the 47 recipients of the annual award since its inception in 1965. Drake is vice chair of NUTC’s Business Advisory Committee.

Coyote Logistics LLC: Number One on Crain’s Chicago Business Fast Fifty List

Published June 4, Crain’s Chicago Business Fast Fifty highlights the 50 fastest growing companies in the Chicago area based on 5-year revenue growth. Coyote's growth since its founding in 2006 has been centered on a singular idea: proprietary software systems programmed to eliminate empty backhauls (the practice of returning a truck trailer void of cargo to its point of departure after making a delivery).  

Jeff SilverAdditional recognition for Coyote came from an entirely different sphere, as Jeff Silver, CEO, hosted Dr. Jill Biden, at the Company’s Chicago Headquarters on June 19th.  Dr. Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, made the visit to highlight Chicago’s College to Careers Initiative. Coyote Logistics participates in the program that Mayor Rahm Emanuel and City Colleges launched in December 2011 in an effort to better prepare students for jobs and address the skills gap in Chicago. Coyote is a Leadership member of the BAC.  Read more

The CEO of the Panama Canal Authority, Alberto Alemán Zubieta, Ends His Term September 3rd after 16 Years of Distinguished Service as the Canal’s head administrator

BAC member Aleman is being widely recognized and honored for his outstanding leadership in overseeing the transformation of the Panama Canal into the most important transshipment and logistics hub in the Americas. Aleman is credited with successfully overseeing the ongoing $5.25 billion Canal expansion project. Read more

The Enactment of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 Opens Up New DCA to LAX Non-stop Flights

BAC members American Airlines and United Airlines began direct flights between DCA and LAX and SFO.  American inaugurated nonstop service between Washington National Airport (DCA) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on June 14.  Additional nonstop flights now include United Airlines’ DCA to San Francisco International Airport (SFO). The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a limited number of new flights to U.S. domestic airports located beyond DCA's previous 1,250-mile perimeter limit.  Flight time for the DCA-LAX nonstop service is substantially less than the seven to eight hours required for alternative connecting flights from DCA. Read more 

Of Interest

The Northwestern University Transportation Library (NUTL) Completes O’Hare Digital Archive

ORD StubIn partnership with the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois, NUTL recently completed the digitization of 92 volumes–over 3,000 pages–of historical materials related to planning, developing, and constructing Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. This unique digital collection contains documents from 1927 through the mid-1990s—covering urban land use, architecture, commercial airport construction, municipal government, environmental regulation, and public and corporate governance. Access the collection

In-depth Profile of William Boeing, Champion of Aviation During Its First Decades

William BoeingThe Emmy-nominated series Pioneers in Aviation: The Race to the Moon, first released in 2001, has been re-edited and is finally making its public television debut. Part One of the three-part film explores the lives and contributions of William Boeing and Donald Douglas.  For information on Public Television Stations airing the three-part series, explore here.

The First Monolith In Place

Panama Canal MonolithWork on the expansion of the Panama Canal has reached a milestone—the June 19th completion of the first monolith for the new locks at the Canal’s Pacific end. The monolith, one of 46 being built in the Pacific locks upper chamber, will help to divide the lock walls to facilitate their construction.  The massive concrete and steel structure is 33.84 meters high, 7.5 meters wide and 27 meters deep. “This new third lane will be a game changer in world maritime commerce,” said outgoing Panama Canal Authority Administrator/ CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta.  Read more

Group Wins Funding for Natural Gas Vehicle Technologies Research

A research team comprised of:
1) Northwestern University faculty and students, 2) NuMat Technologies (a Northwestern start-up), and
3) the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) is one of 13 teams across the country that will share $30 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) in support of natural gas vehicle technologies. The team will design, synthesize, and test high-performance materials that can store clean fuels and thereby expand the use of natural gas as a vehicle fuel.  Read more

Resilient Northwestern Student Team Debuts New Solar Car at Formula Sun Grand Prix

Pushing the limits of technologies and composite materials brings its own risks and rewards. Fifteen Northwestern engineering undergraduates were in upstate New York in July at the Formula Sun Grand Prix, where they put their new solar car to the test.  Check out their blog

In the Media

Metro Chicago’s Daily Herald Picks Up NUTC Faculty Affiliate Professor Joe Schofer’s Comments on extreme weather and how it is revealing the condition of our transportation infrastructure. The article was updated on August 20.  Read more

NCivil and Environmental Engineering Professors Kimberly Gray and Aaron Packman Co-Author Statement by Big Ten Scientists: Climate Change Is the Probable Cause for Extreme Weather

The Statement raised the likelihood of climate change as the engine behind extreme weather events that have taken lives, displaced thousands, and temporarily “dried up” the Mississippi for freight transport. The statement was cited in newspapers and on numerous Web sites discussing the implications for policy, infrastructure, vehicle design/manufacturing, and more.  See the Chicago Tribune’s and other coverage

Joseph Schofer, NUTC Faculty Affiliate
, was quoted in the Chicago Tribune article concerning security road closings and traffic re-routings due to the May 19-21 NATO summit in Chicago.  Original story here

Honors and Awards

Four Students Receive Dissertation Year Fellowships to Support Research 

They are Civil & Environmental Engineering PhD Candidates Jiwon Kim and Yikai Chen, and Industrial Engineering PhD Candidates Luis de la Torre and Tim Sweda.
Jiwon Kim
– Reliability in Traffic Simulation Models
Yikai Chen
– Statistical Health-Monitoring for Transportation Infrastructure
Luis de la Torre
– Models and Algorithms for Coordination in Humanitarian Logistics
Tim Sweda
– Decision Making for Electric Vehicles

PhD Candidate Yikai Chen's Paper Selected as One of Five Best 

The paper titled “Multivariate Statistical Process Control for Structural Health Monitoring” was selected as one of the five best papers at the 8th Annual Inter-university Symposium on Infrastructure Management (AISIM8) held June 8-9, 2012 at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.  Chen will present his paper at the special session for AISIM during the Transportation Research Board meetings in Jan. 2013.  Symposium Web site

Ali Zockaie Kheiraie, PhD Candidate in Civil & Environmental Engineering, Awarded a Graduate Student Participation Grant
 The grant enabled him to attend the 8th National Aviation System Planning Symposium held in Galveston, Texas, May 18 – 22.  Symposium Web site

PhD Candidate Yue Geng Receives CII (Containerization & Intermodal Institute) Scholarship

PhD candidate in Industrial Engineering, Yue Geng, was awarded this year's Containerization & Intermodal Institute (CII) scholarship at the Institute's seminar in Chicago on June 25, 2012. Through NUTC, Geng is researching various aspects of logistics, working on developing models and algorithms to better describe and improve large-scale supply chain systems.  CII Scholarship Web page

Charlotte Anne Frei Receives an Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship for academic year 2012-2013 Frei, is a PhD student in Transportation Systems Analysis and Planning.  Eisenhower Fellowship site

PhD Students Ramón L Torres and Madison Fitzpatrick Receive NSF Fellowships: Reach for the Stars. “Reach for the Stars: Computational Models for Teaching and Learning in Physics, Astronomy and Computer Science” is a GK-12 program funded by the National Science Foundation, with support from CIERA and Northwestern University.  Reach for the Stars Web site

Team of McCormick School of Engineering Seniors Awarded an Honorable Mention in the 2012 INFORMS Undergraduate Operations Research Prize Competition 
Brandon Zhang, Alex Huang, Alex Yue Ma, Sara L Schmidt, and Nancy Xu, have received the award for their design project: "Integration of Real Time Data in Urban Search and Rescue." The team, advised by Irina S. Dolinskaya, Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences, is invited to attend the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) Annual Meeting in October to present their work and receive the Honorable Mention award.  INFORMS Annual Meeting Web site

Upcoming Events


Highway OfframpsA Data-driven Paradigm for Arterial Traffic Flow Monitoring, Modeling, and Control
Thurs. Oct. 11, 2012
Dr. Henry Liu,
Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota
Seminar Flyer.pdf

BAC – Fall Meeting, Oct. 30-31, 2012

Data-driven Business: Challenges and Best Practices in the Transportation Industry

Tues. Oct. 30  2:00-5:00 pm

Hagestad Sandhouse Gang – Fall 2012 Events

Thursday, October 18, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Alex Clifford, Executive Director & CEO of Metra
Reception to Follow:  5:00 - 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, November 1, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
“A New Shortline Model”

Speakers:  Allan Roach, SVP, Business Development , Watco Corporation, LLC
Stefan Loeb, VP Business Development, Watco Companies, LLC

Sandhouse Gang information

Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science

Northwestern University

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