Technovations in Transportation
A Memorandum of
Understanding between Region X's UTCs and DOTs
forming the Region X Transportation Consortium was
The purpose of the consortium is to provide the
means for member institutions to collaborate on
research and education projects of mutual interest.
Members agree to meet twice yearly and to regularly
exchange information on research and educational
needs, interests and programs. The Consortium will be able to promote
interest in transportation-related fields within the
region and develop shared educational and training
programs. The Consortium is expected to stimulate
interest in transportation research from other
research institutions and funding sources to address
transportation challenges in the Northwest.
Four regional task forces have already been
established by the consortium members, focusing on
education, research, training and teleconferencing.
Four state DOTs and eight universities
from four UTCs
form the Region X Consortium.
Pooled Fund Projects
The Consortium also has agreed to leverage
research by establishing a pool of funds from which
projects of interest to the region can be funded.
Details are yet to be determined, but selection of
initial projects is expected to take place in
Students from the participating universities have
already benefited from collaboration among the UTCs.
An annual student conference has been held since
This year's conference, sponsored by Portland State University,
November. Students were able to present their
research and exchange ideas with their peers in an
environment that does not exist in the classroom or
in other conferences. Professor Brian Taylor from
UCLA gave the keynote address. A
highlight of the conference was presentations of
The student conference was coordinated with the ITE Traffic Bowl, sponsored yearly by the Oregon
Section of ITE.
Jones and Ashley Hobbs were honored as outstanding civil
engineering students by Tom McFarland, representative of
the Coral Sales Company. The Coral Sales Company/Douglas
P. Daniels Scholarship was awarded in recognition of the
students' outstanding leadership qualities and
participation in extracurricular activities.
Ashley is a junior civil engineering major, secretary of
the student chapter of the Institute of Transportation
Engineers and secretary of the UI chapter of the Society
of Women Engineers. In her application for the
scholarship, Ashley notes that transportation engineers
need to be innovative in developing tools to meet the
changing needs of society, especially focusing on "more
efficient methods of transportation in order to reduce
the effect on the environment." After receiving her BS,
Ashley plans to continue her education at the University
of Idaho as a graduate student.
Uriah began graduate school this spring. He began
working with NIATT researcher Dr. Michael Dixon in the
summer of '05. He has worked on projects involving video
detection, software simulation and green time
utilization as a performance measure for intersection
A final report for the project, "Fundamental
Studies of the Catalytic Ignition Process," was
submitted by faculty principal investigator Dr.
Judith Steciak and two of her graduate students,
Robert Lounsbury and Katie Leichliter. The project
supported development of catalytic igniters for
environmentally friendly alternative fuels such as
aqueous ethanol. The report (N08-03)
describes the installation, calibration and
preliminary testing of a catalytic plug-flow reactor
after the new laboratory’s electrical and plumbing
upgrades were completed.
The reactor was moved from Moscow, Idaho, to the
new laboratories in Boise, Idaho. The team
calibrated a hot wire anemometer, used the
anemometer to remeasure the plug-flow region of the
reactor, and began testing and modeling of a
platinum (Pt) wire catalyst exposed to a lean
A hot-wire anemometer is an instrument capable of
reflecting small changes in voltage. From these
voltage readings the velocity can be determined.
However, prior to using a hot-wire anemometer it is
necessary to establish a base line value of voltage
vs. velocity. Thus for a given voltage the velocity
To do this, the team had to construct a device
with a known pressure and velocity. The picture at
the right is the hot-wire calibration apparatus they
devised. A nozzle with a precise shape and known
exit diameter was attached to the top of a two-liter
bottle. Straws were inserted to straighten the flow,
ensuring that the flow would be laminar and the
velocity constant for a given pressure.
The nozzle was designed in SolidWorks and built
in the IdeaWorks lab on the Moscow campus
specifically for this application. The nozzle
functions as a flow conditioner, increasing the flow
velocity so that the hot-wire anemometer could
detect changes in the velocity or votage, and it
smoothes the flow to allow for an even more constant
velocity profile for calibration.
Compressed air was used to calibrate the hot-wire
anemometer. However, prior to running the compressed
air through the nozzle it was necessary to clean the
air. An air filter purified the compressed air down
to 5-microns and a second coalescing filter
eliminates oil from the air to 0.5-microns.
Because the nozzle was designed with a known exit
diameter the velocity of the air for a given
pressure could be determined from the Bernoulli and
Although a majority of NIATT
graduate and undergraduate students are studying for
their degrees either in civil or mechanical
engineering, the research done with UTC funds
involve students from a number of other departments.
Students from the Biological and
Agricultural Engineering Department have been
working with the biodiesel research for many years.
Four undergraduate students were
involved in the design and fabrication of the
alcohol recovery system for the Biodiesel
Demonstration Plant (KLK421). Tony Pastrama, a BAE
sophomore, a non-traditional student experience in
private industry, did all of the plumbing on the
flash unit. Scott Burn, who completed his junior
year, is also a non-traditional student who came to
the BAE department after seven years in the Navy and
another year in the biodiesel industry. He was
instrumental in fabricating the frame and
contributed ideas for the design. Luke McCall is
finishing up his BS in Agricultural System
Management. He has worked for BAE in the work study
program and as an IH student for four years. He was
involved in the electrical side of the project,
running conduit and mounting components for the main
power controls. Brice Starr,a freshman in the
department, was awarded a Work and Learn Scholarship
in 2008. He did some fabrication on the
superstructure for the distillation column.
Another department from which NIATT
students come is the Electrical and Computer Science
Department. Dr. Richard Wall, Dr. Brian Johnson and
Dr. James Frenzel have recruited a number of
undergraduates and graduates to work on a variety of
projects, starting with NIATT's Controller Interface
Device, and now concentrating on the development of
Many of these ECE students are
co-authors on publications and have made
presentations at Transportation Research Board
meetings, an IEEE ITS Conference, and an
International IEEE Intelligent Transportation
Matthew Benke, who was NIATT's 2007
Student-of-the-Year, came from the Computer Science
Department. He worked on three projects dealing with
the survivabiility of intelligent transportation
systems along with Paul Oman, his computer science
mentor, and Dr. Ahmed Abdel-Rahim of civil
engineering and Dr. Brian Johnson, professor in
computer and electrical engineering.
The Annual Advisory Board Meeting is
set for the end of April, coinciding with the
University of Idaho's annual Engineering Exposition.
A number of board members take part as judges in the
Expo or take time to talk with the participating
students about their exhibits and posters.
A banquet is planned for the opening of the
meeting and the board members and other guests will
have an opportunity to hear from Guillermo Madrigal,
NIATT's 2008 Student-of-the-Year and Nick Harker,
leader of NIATT's clean snowmobile team.
A tour of the newly completed IDEAWorks lab is
planned for the closing of the meeting.
Board members have been sent proposals developed
by NIATT researchers seeking funding for the
2008-2009 academic year. They are expected to meet
with the researchers to discuss their proposals and
learn about accomplishments from previous research,
and make recommendations for funding for the next
NIATT's Clean Snowmobile Team is no stranger to
excelling in competition. The team successfully
re-engineers of existing snowmobiles to reduce
pollution and noise emissions while maintaining the
performance characteristics that the snowmobile
The snowmobile this year used direct-injection,
two-stroke engine technology that doubles snowmobile
fuel economy and reduces pollution by 80 to 85
percent. This technology won the competition in 2007
and achieved second place this March in Houghton,
This year, the team concentrated on utilizing an
ethanol blend fuel (E85) and improving the
combustion chamber to reduce mechanical noise
emission, while exhaust noise was diminished with
use of a non-standard exhaust silencer.
Team advisor Karen Den Braven explains, "Our
snowmobile meets Yellowstone National Park Best
Available Technology (BAT) noise emissions and is
very close to meeting their pollution emission
standards with a two-stroke engine. This is quite a
feat, as all of the current BAT snowmobiles use
Besides capturing second place, the team
won the additional awards:
The Idaho Higher Education Research Council (HERC)
and an evaluation panel recommended funding for two
projects submitted to the Idaho State Board of
Education by NIATT researchers.
Judi Steciak, Steve Beyerlein, Karen Den Braven
and Ralph Budwig were granted $274,900 for their
proposal, "Sustainable Transportation Engine and
Fuel Systems," research that resulted from previous
UTC projects and which will enhance their future
The application states their their research and
development focus is on sustainable transportation
fuels and engine technology, with special focus
areas on two-stroke engine development and
homogeneous charge catalytically assisted
In explaining how their objectives would be
realized, the researchers describe their approach to
research and education:
We [NIATT researchers] conduct research that
leads to technology products and new knowledge.
Our faculty members are committed to
purposefully integrating research and education.
Our research projects must not only meet
critical transportation needs, they must also
provide opportunities to immerse students in
practical, learning-centered engineering or
Richard Wall and James Frenzel received a
one-time grant of $75,00 for their project,
"Advanced Interactive Signals for Able-Bodied and
Disabled Pedestrians," which focuses on traffic and
Their application details the support of industry
partners in time, expertise, equipment and funds.
The Campbell Company is contributing $5000 in funds
plus equipment. Intelight contributed equipment
valued at approximately 43300, and Econolite
contributed traffic controller equipment. Other
partners in state agencies and private industry have
agreed to serve on the Technical Oversight Committee
for the project.