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TSSP 2016 Conference: Tentative Program

I am sharing below the tentative program for the 23rd Annual Conference of the Transportation Science Society of the Philippines (TSSP):

TSSP 2016 Tentative Program

Soon, I will post on the list of papers to be presented for the Technical Sessions to be held in the afternoon part of the one-day conference.

A new Director of the National Center for Transportation Studies

I learned a couple of days ago that there will be a new Director at the National Center for Transportation Studies (NCTS) at the University of the Philippines in Diliman soon. The new Director will be Dr. Ma. Sheilah G. Napalang who is a tenured faculty member of the university’s School of Urban and Regional Planning. She is to be the first woman head of the center, which used to be called the Transport Training Center that was created in the 1970s as part of the Japanese Government’s technical assistance to the Government of the Philippines to increase capacity and capability in transportation planning, engineering and management. Dr. Napalang will be the first Director from SURP since 2001 (since that time, all Directors were from the College of Engineering). She was a former senior technical staff of the NCTS before she joined the SURP and obtained her advanced degrees from the US (masters’ at Virginia Tech) and Japan (Dr. Eng. at Tokyo Tech).

More on this development and perhaps the turnover once everything is final and formalized.

EASTS 2015 – Cebu City, September 11-13, 2015

The 11th International Conference of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies (EASTS 2015) will be held in Cebu City this September 11-13, 2015. For information on the conference and program, check out their website here:

http://www.easts2015.com/

You can also download a brochure about EASTS here:

EASTS brochure2014-2015a

The conference is hosted by the Transportation Science Society of the Philippines (TSSP), which is the local affiliate of the EASTS. More information on the TSSP are found below:

TSSP brochure_inside TSSP brochure_cover-back

Research topics on transport and traffic in the Philippines?

I noticed that this site has received a lot of hits for inquiries regarding undergraduate research topics. While we at UP have yet to start our first semester of the academic year 2015-2016, other schools have already started their semesters, trimesters or quarterms. I suspect students in their final or graduating year would be looking for topics for their research projects or, what some schools refer to as the undergraduate thesis projects.

I have written about our undergraduate researches at UP Diliman the past few years and listed down the topics our students have implemented for their undergraduate projects. In our case, we have 2 subjects that our students take during their final year – CE 190, a one unit course that focuses on the formulation and approval of the research project and CE 199, a three unit course for the implementation of the approved project. These are taken over 2 semesters, usually the last 2 that the student takes before graduating.

Unfortunately, not all schools would have the capability and capacity to advise students taking on topics on transport and traffic. I noticed that many schools and their advisers just let their students select topics of their own choice. Many provide minimal if any guidance to students. The latter often choose topics on current issues or problems without checking if they have the knowledge and tools to undertake substantive studies. Often too, it seems to us that the advisers are not capable of providing guidance to their own students and as such just let them seek advise elsewhere including people they would identify as resource persons but to whom they would be more dependent on for advice than their schools’ faculty members. Although their enthusiasm and interest in various topics are commendable and there are many out there who would be gracious and generous to share their time, knowledge and experience with these students, they cannot do so as regularly as full-time faculty members. In fact, it is unfair to these people whose times and resources are already constrained by their own responsibilities (e.g., a professor at DLSU also has his own students to guide and classes to teach).

Schools need to develop their own research agendas. That is so that students would be able to choose topics that their faculty can realistically and effectively guide their students instead of sending them out to become the burdens of others. These would include topics concerning local issues. Are there road safety issues at locations such as intersections near the school? Are the streets in the nearby CBD experiencing congestion? Is there an oversupply or lack of public transport services in the city or a nearby town? It seems awkward for a university in Pampanga, for example, to have students taking on a topic concerning EDSA-MRT or students of a university in Metro Manila taking on a topic on Mindanao railways, if their faculty have no relevant experiences or capabilities to properly guide the students.

I would encourage schools to identify topics concerning local issues first. As they say, charity begins at home, and working on solutions for local problems should be top of the agenda of any school. That includes us at UP and there are many topics that focus on issues in and around UP Diliman. If we can’t solve our own problems then how can we be believable in addressing those outside our direct influence area?

In the next post, I will share and example research agenda from the last academic year. This was the basis for our students selecting topics for their undergraduate researches and as starting points for our graduate students in formulating topics for their MS thesis.

Special lectures on transportation after the 2011 tsunami in Japan

We recently had the honor of hosting two professors from the Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech). Prof. Tetsuo Yai was an adviser to two (2) faculty members of the Institute of Civil Engineering of UP Diliman and Dr. Daisuke Fukuda was adviser to a former student of ours who is now with De La Salle University. While both are in the transportation field, their laboratories are located in different campuses of Tokyo Tech. Prof. Yai’s laboratory is at the Suzukakedai campus in Yokohama while Dr. Fukuda’s lab is at the main campus in Ookayama where Prof. Yai used to have his laboratory.

Prof. Yai delivered a lecture on “The Progress of Miyako Recovery Plan from Tsunami Disaster” while Dr. Fukuda presented on the “Impacts of Rolling Blackouts on Railway Transport Service in Tokyo Metropolitan Area after the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake.” The lectures were held at the Toyota Training Room of the National Center for Transportation Studies (NCTS) with an audience comprised mainly of graduate and undergraduate students of Civil Engineering.

2013-08-06 16.17.47NCTS Director Sean Palmiano opening the lectures and introducing Prof. Yai to the audience.

2013-08-06 16.18.23Prof. Yai introducing his topic and talking about the earthquake and tsunami that hit the Tohoku region in 2011.

2013-08-06 16.29.47Prof. Yai explaining about the effects of the tsunami on Miyako City and the initiatives for recovery.

2013-08-06 17.12.42Dr. Fukuda describing the urban rail network in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area.

2013-08-06 17.14.17The lectures were well-attended.

2013-08-06 17.23.12Dr. Fukuda explaining on the impacts of blackouts on rail transport and commuting times in Tokyo and its  surrounding areas.

Teaching transportation engineering

I’ve taught Transportation Engineering courses since I joined the faculty of the then Department of Civil Engineering at the University of the Philippines Diliman in 1995. This year marks my 15th year with UP counting my 3-year study leave in the late 90’s.

Since 1995, I have taught most of the transportation courses offered by the Department (now Institute) of Civil Engineering. These include the two undergraduate offerings ubiquitously titled Transportation Engineering I and II (CE 141 and CE 142) that are considered major courses, and part of a balanced curriculum leading to a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering degree. Being major courses, these are required subjects and all students must take these courses one after the other with TE I being the prerequisite of TE II.

Both subjects are not difficult ones to teach and it is easy to come up with examples that the students can visualize and understand. In fact, experiences from driving and commuting are common examples that allow me and my students to discuss actual manifestations of concepts we discuss in the classroom.

I don’t really have a favorite among the two undergrad courses though I must say that I like teaching CE 141 over CE 142. I like the content of CE 141 with topics on Traffic Flow Theory and Transport Planning, which allow me to use my imagination in conjuring new examples (and exams) each semester that I handle the course. I feel that CE 142 is more deliberate because it is partly a design course, and in the undergraduate level it is important to instill fundamentals in the minds of future Civil Engineers – future Transportation Engineers. Nevertheless, teaching CE 142 is not at all boring and lacking for challenge.

I always pray that I can share my knowledge and experience to my students. I assume that while I am not the best teacher in the subject, I do give it my best shot every time I give a lecture. I am hopeful that I am able to contribute in the molding of the next generation of Civil Engineers produced by UP – more so the next generation of Transportation Engineers who can continue the advocacy for better transportation systems and infra that this country of ours deserve.