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West Hub Partners with Department of Transportation for Experiential Learning Project

The West Big Data Innovation Hub has just partnered with the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for an eighteen-month pilot project called “Building a Transportation Data Community through Experiential Learning Pathways.”

Core institution programs working on the project are the University of Washington’s Data Science for Social Good (DSSG), UC Berkeley’s Data Science Discovery (Discovery), and UC San Diego’s DataJam West. Project PI and West Hub Executive Director Ashley Atkins said that the team will leverage these programs’ existing infrastructure and strengths for the pilot.

Executive Director of the University of Washington’s eScience Institute Sarah Stone and Director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center’s Research Services Division Christine Kirkpatrick are Co-PIs.

“Our goal is to explore novel approaches to developing communities of practice that harness cutting-edge, data-driven advancements for highway transportation, in ways that can improve the safety and well-being of people across the country,” Atkins said. “Foundational components of the use case include supporting the development of current students who, through the project’s pathways programs, could become future transportation data leaders.”

The project plan also includes connecting transportation researchers across computer science, data science, engineering, social science, and related fields while strengthening cross-sector partnerships to catalyze increased utilization of data-driven advancements in ways that will meet pressing national and regional transportation needs.

Discovery projects take place during the academic year and involve undergraduate and graduate students, DSSG encompasses an intensive ten-week summer program for both undergraduates and graduate students, and DataJam West is a Fall/Spring project for high school students that includes trained undergraduate mentors. All three of these programs will work together to weave in new experiential learning opportunities as part of this use case for FHWA.

“Our project will allow students to have active engagement with researchers and stakeholders — to facilitate the development of a broader transportation data community that connects solution seekers with solution providers, while simultaneously creating a pathway for future transportation data leaders,” Stone said. “We are excited to have the opportunity to work with FHWA on this effort to support the development of the next generation of transportation data innovators.”


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