A group of UTC civil engineering students took their research out of a lab and into the real world. The group addressed traffic headaches at the intersection of Gunbarrel and East Brained Road, one of the busiest in the city.
Students Charlie Vaden, Weiran Yang, Mark Skelton, and Lonnie Higgins worked on the project as part of their senior design class. After collecting and analyzing data, the team came up with a variety of ideas.
“The obvious solution would be to widen the road, but that would be too difficult. For the city to buy more land and to displace all the traffic for construction just wouldn’t be feasible,” Vaden said. “So we recommended other solutions like installing ‘smart’ traffic signals, improving signal timing, and upgrading some of the secondary roads near the intersection to help the traffic flow better through the area.”
The group later presented their work to the East Brainerd Council of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce. The students plan to present their study to members of the Chattanooga City Council and Hamilton County Commission.
“Working with the political forces in the city was an education in itself. Our ultimate goal was to promote the conversation. We really felt like we made a contribution and got people thinking about solutions,” Vaden said.
According to Dr. Ignatius W. Fomunung, UC Foundation Associate Professor and Research and Graduate Program Director for the UTC Department of Civil Engineering, a project like this provides students with valuable experience.
“One of the things we pride ourselves in, and which constitutes our strength, as a department is producing students who are practice ready. We are constantly seeking projects from the community that give our students the opportunities to put theory into practice,” he said.
“Over the years we have cultivated good relations with local engineering agencies and consulting firms who feed us with the kinds of real-world projects that provide meaningful experience to our students and prepare them for the workforce. The projects also promote student interaction with professionals and teach them skills on how to seek out and make use of resources available to them,” Fomunung continued.