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University of Michigan student team wins National Transportation Technology Tournament for second year in a row

The team designed solutions to the problem of curb space management in downtown Ann Arbor.

Screenshot of U-M transportation team.
(Clockwise from upper left) University of Michigan team members Madison Carlson, Jun Ying, Arya Pudota and Xiaotong Sun received news of their win in a virtual awards ceremony. (Not pictured: Xin Dong)

For the second year in a row, a University of Michigan student team won the annual Transportation Technology Tournament, beating out five other finalists from universities across the country. The tournament is held by the United States Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) and the National Operations Center of Excellence (NOCoE). The team members included Madison Carlson, Jun Ying, Xin Dong, and Xiaotong Sun from Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Arya Pudota from Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. The team was advised by Neda Masoud, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

The Michigan team’s winning presentation, Curb Space Management for Multi-Modal Transportation in Downtown Areas, focused on creating solutions to improve mobility and safety by optimizing curb space allocation. The team collaborated with the City of Ann Arbor and the Michigan Department of Transportation to identify this problem as a high priority for the city.

“It was really rewarding to work with the city of Ann Arbor and with MDOT because we were able to see real-world problems and start to apply our academic knowledge to help solve one of these problems that we see in our everyday life,” said Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) undergraduate student Madison Carlson.

CEE postdoctoral scholar Xiaotong Sun, who was also on last year’s team, added, “It feels good to collaborate with transportation practitioners to find the intersection of the practical concerns in transportation management and interesting transportation research questions.”

The team’s solutions include digital information boards to create flexible use curb zones, a smart parking system to identify open spaces in real time, increased non-single car options, and dynamic pricing on parking meters.

Besides providing a chance to apply what they learned in the classroom, the competition also gave the team members an opportunity to develop other skills.

“An important thing I learned from the competition is how to do presentations and express my point in an efficient way.,” said CEE master’s student Jun Ying. She added that the competition “helps us have a better understanding of what we learned.”

The tournament took place during the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Annual Meeting, held virtually this year. The University of Michigan team was among six finalist teams to make presentations. The other teams were from Auburn University, Florida International University, Iowa State University, the University of South Florida and the University of Tennessee – Knoxville.

The University of Michigan’s team was formed from Michigan Transportation Student Organization (MiTSO) members. MiTSO is an umbrella organization that encompasses various student organizations active in the field of transportation, including the U-M chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the Michigan chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE). MiTSO welcomes undergraduate and graduate student members who are interested in the transportation field from different disciplines at the University of Michigan, including engineering and planning. In addition to participating in different competitions, such as the Transportation Technology Tournament and the ITE Traffic Bowl, MiTSO holds a number of social events for its members, and arranges tours of transportation facilities. Interested students can join MiTSO by filling out this form, or contacting MiSO officers at [email protected].


Portrait of Mason Hinawi
Mason Hinawi

Marketing Communications Specialist
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering