September/October 2017 Newsletter

U.S. DOT Volpe National Transportation Systems Center

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

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u s department of transportation volpe center

U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology 

October 31, 2017

Here’s How Volpe Helps FAA Lay the Foundation for the Aviation System of the Future

Find out how Volpe experts in safety management, engineering, operations, human factors, and environmental and energy technologies help the Federal Aviation Administration design, develop, and deploy the aviation system of the future. Read the new brochure.

Aviation system of the future
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Terrafugia’s Carl Dietrich on Aligning Innovation and Disruption in the Transportation Enterprise

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

12:00–12:45 p.m.

Carl Dietrich, co-founder and chief technology officer of Terrafugia, will speak as part of Volpe’s 2017 thought leadership speaker series, The Ongoing Transformation of the Global Transportation System.

Dietrich will discuss aligning innovation and disruption in the transportation enterprise.

Register now to attend via webinar or in person.

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Richard John

Dr. Richard John: Laser-Focused on Global Challenges, Innovation, and the Future of the Nation’s Transportation System

Honoring the career of U.S. DOT Volpe Center Director Emeritus Dr. Richard R. (“Dick”) John, who will retire from public service in November following a federal career that spanned five decades. Read the full story.

Airplane over Boston

Reducing Aviation Noise, Advancing the Aviation Enterprise

Earlier this year, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Noise Control Engineering, the Federal Aviation Administration, and NASA convened a workshop on aviation noise that included leaders from government, academia, and aviation industry groups. Experts at the workshop agreed that without sharp investment increases in aircraft technology, America’s role as a global aviation leader is at risk. Read the full story.

Aviation Reports

Volpe’s Recent Reports Inform the Future of Aviation

Aviation is a particular focus of Volpe’s work across modes, with recent work in global positioning system resilience, energy and the environment, navigation and surveillance, aviation safety, and much more. Check out these recent aviation-related reports highlighting a wide range of Volpe’s aviation expertise. Check out our recent reports.


Rethinking the Human-Autonomy Architecture

With automation appearing more and more across daily life—including in air and ground travel—tasks we think of as belonging to humans may soon be taken over by computers, and there could be consequences that haven’t yet been imagined, said Amy Pritchett, professor and head of the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Pennsylvania State University, who recently spoke as part of Volpe's new speaker series. Watch video highlights and read the full story.

Jeffrey Schnapp

Autonomy for Humans in the 21st Century City

Jeffrey Schnapp kicked off Volpe’s new speaker series, The Ongoing Transformation of the Global Transportation System, with his human-centric vision for the autonomous vehicle revolution. Watch video highlights and read the full story.


Real-Time Solar Powered Traffic Data Network

With the support of the U.S. DOT SBIR program, the Federal Highway Administration, and the National Park Service, Intelligent Automation Inc. developed, tested, and deployed a tool that takes advantage of existing infrastructures to seamlessly monitor traffic information and ensures timely data collection and reporting. Read the full story.

Joshua Corman

Safer at Any Speed: Cybersafety for Connected Vehicles

The more connected things are, the more hackable they become. So far, connectivity is outpacing cybersafety, according to Joshua Corman, chief security officer at PTC and a speaker in Volpe’s series The Ongoing Transformation of the Transportation System. Watch video highlights and read the full story.


Last-Mile Delivery: The Holy Grail of Freight Logistics

Matthias Winkenbach of MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics discusses solutions to delivering goods and services to dense urban centers, and the complex dynamism of cities that impacts urban last-mile distribution. Read the full story.

The following professional opportunities are available at Volpe:

  • Economist
  • Supervisory Mechanical Engineer

Volpe Experts in the Field

Volpe staff engaged in the following noteworthy activities in September and October:

  • Aviation Safety: Ted Papadopoulos, on behalf of the U.S. Air Force (USAF), served as a U.S. government witness and participated in system acceptance tests and flight certifications at six Polish Armed Forces airports throughout Poland. Volpe conducts this work in support of USAF Foreign Military Sales.

  • Connected and Automated Driving: Dr. Scott Smith and Eli Machek represented U.S. DOT at the first European Commission-sponsored event on connected and automated driving. Dr. Smith was the U.S. speaker in an impact assessment session and Machek co-chaired the automation in road transportation meeting.
  • Connected and Automated Driving: Tom Schaffnit represented DOT at the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) meetings in Sapporo, Japan. 3GPP is developing wireless specifications for future generations of radio communication. Schaffnit researched new wireless capabilities and technologies related to connected vehicles—vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-everything—emerging in 3GPP requirements and specifications.
  • Data Protection: Jordan Multer, an engineering psychologist, was recommended to the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) to serve as an expert on evidentiary protection issues for transit agency information. Multer participated in the NAS ad hoc committee and evaluated these issues along with members of the private sector, academia, and government organizations.

  • Disaster Response: Terry Sheehan was activated to the Texas State Emergency Operations Center in Austin to support preparations and response to Hurricane Harvey. Throughout the deployment, Sheehan provided critical transportation situational awareness to the DOT Crisis Management Center; regional, state, and federal organizations; voluntary organizations; and the private sector.

    Sheehan was also deployed to Puerto Rico to support Hurricane Maria response efforts. He coordinated with the Puerto Rico DOT’s Emergency Management Agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the U.S. Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency to obtain permits and waivers to pre-stage heavy equipment, mobile housing, and crews.
  • Multimodal Mobility: Alex Oberg presented at a geographical information system transit conference in Washington, D.C. Oberg presented on the geospatial components of a project in which Volpe is exploring opportunities for applying General Transit Feed Specification digital transit schedule data to estimate transit ridership and multimodal performance measures.

  • Pedestrian Safety: Dr. Alex Epstein participated in the North American Commercial Vehicle Show in Atlanta, Georgia. As part of Volpe’s support for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s sponsorship of a study of lateral protective devices for trucks, Dr. Epstein presented preliminary findings and opportunities to collaborate with industry partners on vulnerable road user safety side guards.
  • Rail Innovation: Yim Tang and Dr. Hailing Yu attended the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) 2017 Annual Conference. The annual conference provides railway industry members and stakeholders an opportunity to share railroad knowledge and technical expertise and exchange ideas. Dr. Yu gave the presentation “Causes and Prevention of Splitting/Bursting Failure of Concrete Crossties: A Computational Study” at the conference.
  • Rail Safety: Dr. Scott Gabree presented to the Operation Lifesaver National Advisory Council at its semi-annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Operation Lifesaver’s National Office creates programs and materials to deliver rail safety messages to the public. Dr. Gabree provided an overview of what is known about rail suicide and how rail safety messages may impact rail suicide rates. The goal of this presentation was to identify a messaging strategy that effectively addresses rail suicide and traditional rail safety, such as trespass and crossing safety.

    Dr. Gabree also presented and assisted in facilitating a discussion session at a suicide prevention symposium in Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Gabree presented research about the media’s role in preventing suicide and helped facilitate a discussion to develop a short-term action plan to address rail suicide in the greater Chicago area.
  • Rail Safety: Patricia Llana and Karina Jacobsen inspected and evaluated the fabrication and assembly of crashworthy components and their retrofit to an Electro-Motive Diesel F40 locomotive. The objective of the program is to demonstrate the effectiveness and robustness of the crashworthy components in full-scale dynamic tests. 
  • Rail Safety: Bill Baron upgraded an in-pavement lighting system at a Farmrail grade crossing, which changed the flash sequence of the lights before they turned a steady red. This upgrade is part of a study to measure how effective in-pavement lights are in reducing the number of drivers who violate active ungated grade crossing warning systems.

Energy and Environment – Noise


Highway Safety

Motor Carrier Safety

Rail Cost Accounting

Railroad Safety

Transportation Planning

Transportation Safety

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles