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Civil engineering grad student takes runner up at ITS Heartland poster competition

The Heartland Chapter of the national Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) America group held its annual meeting early in May to showcase and share ITS innovations and current applications among its members in Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

Roozbeh Rahmani head shot

Graduate student Roozbeh Rahmani received a second place award for his poster, “Work Zone Safety Assessment Software” at The Heartland Chapter of the national Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) America group’s annual meeting.

In addition to a series of informational sessions by federal and state transportation experts about ITS projects and technologies, the annual meeting stages a student poster competition. MU students often place highly in the competition, and this year was no exception. Graduate student Roozbeh Rahmani received a second place award for his poster, “Work Zone Safety Assessment Software.”

“There is not one model that works perfect for all situations,” Rahmani said. “The data used includes the [workzone] length, duration, annual average daily traffic, whether it is in an urban or rural setting, the number of lights or signals and on-ramps and off-ramps. Based on the facility type — freeway, expressway or rural-two-lane — that user chooses, the software asks for the necessary variables.”

Rahmani said the program he has developed uses some variables as input and gives the number of accidents based on their severity for each particular work zone plan and then converts these to real cost. It is useful to understand which phasing alternatives are safer when making bids.

“It was a really challenging project to me. We wrote more than 20 versions to finalize the software,” Rahmani said. “We used the Missouri database and contacted many other states for data,” he added and said one of the difficulties of using various states’ databases is that state departments of transportation keep track of their data in different ways.

“Although 75 percent of my work is about statistics, graphs and diagrams, you do not need any specific statistical knowledge to use this software.”

Rahmani’s research was supported by funding the Mizzou Transportation Lab received from the Federal Highway Administration’s Smart Work Zone Deployment Initiative (SWZDI) in the form of pooled funds from several states. He and his civil engineering faculty mentors, Carlos Sun, Praveen Edara and Henry Brown, have published the results of the project as part of the SWZDI efforts. He said the reviewers have been very positive about the work that has been done.

“I’m really happy if this software will eventually be used around the country,” Rahmani said. “More funding and more data in the future would make it even better.”