A friend asked me how topics for research are selected by our students. Were these assigned to them or were they able to select from a list of topics provided to them? The answer is actually “either” or in some cases, “both.” We provide a list of topics to our students and they get to select the topics. Some topics are quite popular so we ask students to state their first and second choices, and then ask faculty advisers to discuss the topics with the students to determine the specifics as well as whether groups can be composed to tackle certain topics.
The Institute of Civil Engineering’s six groups (Construction Engineering & Management, Environmental, Geotechnical, Structural, Transportation, and Water Resources) all have their own research agenda, which are typically classified for the short, medium and long terms, as well as for the main and sub-topics each group has identified. The agenda are regularly updated, at least once a year prior to the start of the academic year.
The current research agenda of the Transportation Engineering Group (TEG) includes topics under the following general headings:
- Traffic Engineering and Management/ Traffic Flow
- Public Transport Planning and Travel Demand Management
- Road Safety and Maintenance
- Transport, Environment and Energy
- Rail, Aviation and Maritime Transport
- Transportation and Technology
- Transport Logistics
The specific research topics under each category change according to several factors including the current researches being undertaken by faculty members. There is also a strong influence from the Engineering Research and Development for Technology (ERDT) program supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). The TEG is also strongly associated with the National Center for Transportation Studies (NCTS) and researches have been supported by NCTS projects. In recent years, there has been a lot of topics dealing with issues at and around the University of the Philippines Diliman campus including studies on public transport (e.g., UP – Katipunan jeepneys, UP – North EDSA jeepneys, etc.) and traffic along major roads (e.g., Commonwealth Avenue, Katipunan Avenue, etc.). These studies are part of initiatives to help address “local” issues. The logic here is that if we cannot solve such “local” problems then we have no business trying to solve problems elsewhere. This is also part of the thinking of UP as a microcosm of the Philippines.