June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.188.1 - 13.188.16
An Interdisciplinary Approach to Transportation Education
Abstract Our current transportation system is a manifestation of the decisions made by transportation professionals in our somewhat recent past. Those decisions were influenced by the education that transportation professionals received and by their approaches to problem solving set forth by a culture imbedded in them throughout their professional lives.
We are now acutely aware of the impacts our current transportation system has, not only on our mobility and safety, but also upon the environment, disadvantaged populations and numerous other aspects of our built and human environment.
This being said, it is important to explore new approaches to transportation education. Bringing together transportation students from various disciplines, such as engineering, planning, and public policy seems to enhance the learning experience and may potentially result in a more well rounded transportation professional capable of influencing better transportation decision-making.
At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and sponsored through the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, is an interdisciplinary, graduate-level certificate program entitled, “Transportation Management and Policy” (TMP). Through this 17-credit program, transportation students of various backgrounds take courses together and interact with students of varying perspectives on the topic of transportation.
This paper serves as an exploration of this format of transportation education. Students from different educational backgrounds are afforded the opportunity to interact, through settings that promote considerable discussion and even team efforts focused on transportation projects. Perhaps through this style of transportation education, the vocabulary and approaches to problem solving associated with the “cultures” of the various transportation disciplines might be meshed, thus resulting in a well rounded transportation professional.
This paper will consider the observations and opinions of current employers of some of the graduates of UW-Madison’s Transportation Management and Policy certificate program. A survey will be administered to willing employers and will attempt to quantify, though admittedly through a very small sample size, the employer’s thoughts regarding the relevant success of the TMP graduates in their current work environment and perhaps compare their success to graduates of traditional engineering or planning programs.
Background Our nation’s transportation system is a complex one. It consists of many modes, owned by many parties, travels through many jurisdictions and impacts many people, communities, businesses and even ecosystems. Because our transportation system is such a complex one, the planning, design, construction and operation of such a system requires a vast number of skilled professionals working together towards a common goal of an efficient transportation system that moves people and goods safely and effectively.
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