Future transportation professional Christopher Wongsavanh envisions modern-day cities where streets are designed to increase the safety for all users — motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.
As a recipient of a Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship from the U.S. Department of Transportation-Federal Highway Administration, Wongsavanh set out to study how to make cities a better place to live by improving their transportation systems through innovative street design. He received a $10,000 fellowship, awarded to students pursuing transportation-related disciplines, for his research project.
For more than a decade, CSUF students have received Eisenhower Transportation Fellowships, with Sergio Guerra, director of the Center for Academic Support in Engineering and Computer Science, leading the effort.
“The fellowship program gives students the opportunity to be creative and offers innovative solutions for the U.S. transportation system,” Guerra said.
For Wongsavanh’s research project, he studied ways to improve streets in the city of Anaheim, one of Orange County’s largest cities and regional tourist destinations, which attracts millions of visitors — and the resulting traffic.
Over the past academic year, Wongsavanh examined Anaheim’s streets to determine the practicality, efficiency and benefits or consequences of certain design features stemming from the concept of “complete streets.”
Complete streets consist of implementing design elements in streets to facilitate the usage of the road by various modes of transportation, explained Paulina Reina, one of Wongsavanh’s faculty advisers on the project along with David Naish, both civil and environmental engineering faculty members.
Some of these design elements include the implementation of wider bike lanes, raised medians, better pedestrian facilities, landscaping elements, reduction of private vehicle parking spots, exclusive transit lanes and bike parking, among others, Reina pointed out.
“Providing appropriate transportation infrastructure for all modes is important to promote inclusive access to transportation, reduce the impacts of the transportation sector to the environment through the increased use of transit and active modes of transportation, and increase road safety through the implementation of traffic calming measures,” said Reina, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering.
“By understanding the impacts of implementing particular design elements, transportation practitioners can better decide the design elements that are more appropriate to implement according to the needs of the community.”
Wongsavanh is a student in the B.S. engineering/computer science and MBA pathway program. He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in May and starts the one-year MBA program this fall semester. He plans to continue working on the study this academic year to collect more data to expand the scope and application of the complete streets concept.
This study and its findings may help to push the creative and technical boundaries of street design, Wongsavanh said.
“It is my hope to provide a reference that future professionals may use to justify designs, although more work and considerations are needed,” he said.
With transportation an essential part of everyday life, Reina added that it’s critical to prepare the future transportation workforce.
“The transportation field requires an understanding of a wide variety of issues, including engineering, economic, social and environmental aspects,” she said. “This is why it is very important to train and prepare students, and to equip them with the tools necessary to tackle the current challenges and opportunities within the field.”
Two other civil engineering graduates also received fellowships for their transportation projects: Maniriam Phoummathep-Winspear, $8,000, and Pratyush Pandey $5,000.
Contact: Debra Cano Ramos, firstname.lastname@example.org