Park City, Utah, recently played host to the final round of the 2019 American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials National Bridge Challenge competition, an event that is part of the organization’s annual spring meeting. In an effort to take further advantage of the presence of so many secondary school students, there to compete, the Utah DOT engaged in a “future workforce recruiting” effort on May 20, the day before the bridge competition finals, when it organized a tour of its Traffic Operations Center in Salt Lake City, busing the students, their parents, and teachers to the facility for a day-long tour.
The tour included a detailed overview of the center’s traffic camera control room and its weather center, where up 12 meteorologists work to analyze statewide weather patterns that could impact roadway conditions. Students also visited with one of UDOT’s incident management teams and attended presentations on structural engineering, traffic signal design and development, drone operation, and autonomous vehicles.
“You can’t stop learning in transportation,” said Blaine Leonard, UDOT’s technology and innovation engineer, during a presentation to the students.
Leonard has been a key architect of UDOT’s “first-in-the-nation” connected and autonomous vehicle or CAV system that uses DSRC to help Utah Transit Authority buses “talk” to traffic signals so they arrive at their stops on time. In his talk with the students, Leonard stressed that “everything I work with now in transportation was invented after I graduated from college. And the day may come when we potentially won’t need to drive. And you and your children will be at the forefront of that.”