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MU CEE students take top two spots at poster competition

Two University of Missouri civil engineering students took top honors in the poster competition sponsored by the Central Missouri chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers at May’s Traffic and Safety Conference in Columbia.


Yi Hou’s poster about the prediction of traffic demand for work zones in urban areas took first place at a poster competition at May’s Traffic and Safety Conference.

Yi Hou’s poster about the prediction of traffic demand for work zones in urban areas took the top spot and a $100 prize, while Tim Cope’s work on the evaluation of mobile work zone alarm systems took second place and a $50 prize.

Top poster honors earned Hou, a doctoral student, the opportunity to present his research to those gathered for the conference.

“It was a great honor and pleasure to share my research results with other professionals,” Hou said. “I want my research to be applied in the industry and solve practical problems.”

As part of his research — working in the college’s transportation lab under the guidance of associate professors Praveen Edara and Carlos Sun — Hou proposed a variety of artificial intelligence methods to predict the traffic demand for work zones in urban settings.

“Yi is doing some exceptional research in applying artificial intelligence and data-mining techniques to better understand how people drive and to more accurately forecast traffic in congested urban areas,” Edara said, adding that Hou’s work has been published or is being considered for publication in several industry journals.

Cope’s work targeted the reduction of automobile accidents in mobile maintenance work zones in which lane closures aren’t necessary, such as roadway striping and pothole repair.

“Unfortunately, drivers sometimes do not pay enough attention to visual warnings such as signs and lights and end up crashing into mobile work zones,” Sun said.

Cope studied the use of a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) system and a Horn system to alert drivers of their entry into work zones, finding that drivers reacted positively to the new technology and merged over safely.

“The LRAD system was tested in a continuous operation and in an actuated system,” Cope said. “The Horn system was tested in an actuated system and a manual setup in which the driver of the Missouri Department of Transportation truck would manually trigger the alarm.”

Sun and faculty research engineer Henry Brown served as advisers for the work. Cope earned his bachelor’s degree from MU in 2013 and currently is a graduate student.

“We have a very competitive transportation program in MU CEE,” Hou said. “We have excellent faculty and students who are doing a great job in research, and we have a close relationship with the MoDOT and the Federal Highway Administration in conducting research.”