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Learn by Doing: Lessons Learned from the Ten-Year Senior Projects through University-Agency Partnership

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2017 Pacific Southwest Section Meeting


Tempe, Arizona

Publication Date

April 20, 2017

Start Date

April 20, 2017

End Date

April 22, 2017

Conference Session

Technical Session 4a

Tagged Topic

Pacific Southwest Section

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Paper Authors


Yongping Zhang P.E. Cal Poly Pomona

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Dr. Yongping Zhang is an Assistant Professor in the Civil Engineering Department at Cal Poly Pomona. He is also a registered Professional Engineer in Civil Engineering.

Dr. Zhang currently serve on the Transportation Research Board’s Committee on Transportation Planning Applications as well as Task Force on Understanding New Directions for the National Household Travel Survey Task Force.

From 2009 to 2015, Dr. Zhang worked as Senior Transportation Modeler and Project Manager for Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) and Senior Transportation Analyst for Wilbur Smith Associates in Chicago from 2007 to 2009.

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Xudong Jia Cal Poly Pomona

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Dr. Xudong Jia, P.E., is currently the Director of UCCONNECT (Regional UTC) at Cal Poly Pomona and Professor and Chair of Civil Engineering, Cal Poly Pomona. Dr. Jia has over 25 years of experience in the fields of transportation education, research and consulting practice. He is a leader in inspiring students to address real-life engineering problems by an innovative pedagogical private-public partnership (PPP) model with Caltrans. This model empowers students with collaborative teamwork, effective communication, and creativity. He has received an Outstanding Organization and Individual Achievement Award from US National Transit Standards Consortium.

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Jon Bumps Caltrans, District 8

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Jon Bumps is Senior Transportation Engineer and Design Training Coordinator at Caltrans, District 8.

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Du Lu Caltrans, District 8

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Du Lu is a Senior Transportation Engineer and Branch Chief for Design Oversight at Caltrans District 8.

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Over the past ten years, the Civil Engineering Department of Cal Poly Pomona (CPP) and District 8 of California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) have been partnering on real-life, learn-by-doing senior projects where a group of CPP senior students have designed and analyzed a variety of freeway interchange alternatives for an actual interchange project location in either San Bernardino or Riverside Counties in California.

Supervised by both CPP faculty and Caltrans Engineers, each team has conducted various studies including Planning Study, Traffic Analysis, Geometric Design, Construction Staging, Environmental Impact Study, and Cost Benefit Analysis. These studies have covered a wide range of the core courses related to transportation emphasis of Civil Engineering. More importantly, each senior project has followed the Caltrans project development process and addressed contemporary transportation issues, including technical aspects of interchange improvements, the formulation of the project purpose and need, project scheduling, team building strategies, and public speaking techniques.

Additionally, project teams have made multiple presentations of their results to several groups including a panel of District 8 Deputy District Directors, District 8 Design staff, local chapters of Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and the Caltrans Design Management Board, and the engineering professionals at these meetings have been very impressed. Also, as one of the final products of the senior project, each team has been asked to create a website to highlight the objectives, scope, team, and various documents of the project.

So far more than 150 students have been successfully trained with this senior project model. These students, currently working in various transportation agencies and consulting firms in California, have been major contributors to providing a safe, sustainable, integrated and efficient transportation system to enhance California’s economy and livability.

In May 2016, the Civil Engineering department of CPP celebrated the great success of the CPP-Caltrans partnership at a reunion reception. All CPP faculty, Caltrans District 8 management team and engineers, and the students who has been involved in this program were invited. The reception further promoted this senior project model which has empowered the students and young engineers and has helped them develop their careers in civil engineering across California and the rest of the country.

Zhang, Y., & Jia, X., & Bumps, J., & Lu, D. (2017, April), Learn by Doing: Lessons Learned from the Ten-Year Senior Projects through University-Agency Partnership Paper presented at 2017 Pacific Southwest Section Meeting, Tempe, Arizona.

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