Student Feature Thomas Chase

Thomas Chase, a civil engineering Ph.D. student, is embracing all that is transportation engineering in his time here at UF.

When he first started in transportation, he only thought about this field as cars and roads, but now enjoys the wide range of topics that can be explored under the umbrella of transportation engineering. His participation with the ITE Collegiate Traffic Bowl Championship made it clear to him that transportation was a wide umbrella indeed. “The competition opened my eyes to how transportation engineering included not only operations, but also planning and designing,” said Thomas. “These are seniors in their field. It is important to get familiar with the vendors and organizations that real engineers are working with out in the field.” Thomas plans on utilizing these contacts with his research projects toward his goal of being a tenure-track professorship.

While at UF, Thomas collected field data on pedestrians, vehicles, and drivers at midblock crosswalks for a project with Dr. Lily Elefteriadou, the UFTI director. The project was a collaboration with NC State and UAB, and the data collection procedure had to be identical for each team.  “Working closely with teams from other universities was a great opportunity to develop effective communication when face to face meetings were not possible,” said Thomas. “Working with researchers with different backgrounds enabled our combined teams to achieve even more than we had originally planned.”

Models were developed based on the data, and they were able to simulate midblock crosswalks using a custom simulation microscopic traffic simulation tool developed by Dr. Scott Washburn, an associate professor in the transportation program. “Dr. Lily was very supportive and quick to identify and develop good ideas,” said Thomas. “She always considered the context of the project so that our work will be relevant into the future.”

He completed his undergraduate and master’s degrees at NC State, but has been really pleased with his time at UF.  “Each of the faculty excel in their fields and support the students very well,” said Thomas. “The graduate classes are a great balance of theory and applied work that both future professionals and academics can use.” Thomas expects to graduate from UF in 2015.