Asee peer logo

An Interdisciplinary Approach To Transportation Education

Download Paper |


2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Curriculum Innovation

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.188.1 - 13.188.16



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Greg Waidley University of Wisconsin - Madison

author page

Jason Bittner University of Wisconsin - Madison

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

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.

Waidley, G., & Bittner, J. (2008, June), An Interdisciplinary Approach To Transportation Education Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3843

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2008 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015