Camp Overview

There were several teaching modules organized into three lessons that were developed for this week-long camp. The first lesson provided a brief overview of the transportation sector and its evolution and introduced the process through which transportation projects are initiated and completed. The second lesson introduced students to the fundamentals of developing signal timing plans for a single signalized intersection. The final lesson introduced coordination concepts that are involved in programming multiple intersections.

The goal of these instructions was to enable the students to understand the impact of the interaction between intersections on traffic flow and then using this knowledge coordinate the flows and minimize the delay for a network of two signalized intersections. The students were first introduced to the impact of an intersection’s operation on neighboring intersections through the use of a time-space diagram.

 

Sample Time Space Diagram

 That knowledge was then reinforced and transferred with the use of VISSIM, a transportation simulation software application, and a series of exercises designed to allow a visualization of the impact of different timing patterns on traffic flows.

 

Screen capture of a simple VISSIM network

Lunch speakers drawn from local consultants who are actively engaged with the Institute of Transportation Engineers, the primary professional organization for transportation engineers, also helped to reinforce fundamental traffic engineering concepts and illustrated how concepts learned in lecture applied to practical engineering settings. A field trip to the Georgia Department of Transportation’s (GDOT) Traffic Management Center (TMC) also helped to achieve this objective.

 

Ms. Carla Holmes                                          GDOT’s TMC Tour – Hero Unit

The curriculum culminated with a design challenge. Students formed groups of four or five and were challenged to develop the optimal signal timing [mh1] plan for a series of two intersections given corresponding volumes at the various approaches. Each group’s timing plans were then executed and presented to an audience of parents, graduate students, fellow classmates, and curious onlookers. The presentations of the solutions involved the use of a software program that was developed by the camp staff, traffic signal heads, a taped-off “traffic corridor” and individuals walking through the network at particular speeds to mimic vehicle behavior. This method of  instructing and presenting a few of the fundamental principles of traffic engineering proved to be an excellent means of reinforcing the lessons learned and a fun way to demonstrate to others  what was taught.

 

 Students evaluating implemented signal timing plans in the two-intersection network