UPRM – URI SUMMER TRANSPORTATION INTERNSHIP
Having an efficient, safe, and sustainable transportation system is an essential element for the economic development and welfare of any city, region or country. The analysis and evaluation of the condition and performance of our transportation systems require of trained professionals that can understand the many fundamentals factors that make those systems thrive and must realize the social, cultural and political implications of transportation decisions.
The University of Rhode Island (URI) and the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM) signed a Collaboration Agreement in 2005 to formalize a partnership between the two institutions to promote the instruction, research, and related activities in transportation. The partnership has served to institute a Summer Exchange Research Program during the last five years, with the assistance of the Federal Highway Administration Dwight D. Eisenhower Fellowship Program. The Agreement activities are administered by the URI Transportation Center and the UPRM Transportation Technology Transfer Center.
2011 SUMMER EXCHANGE PROGRAM
UPRM students Davis Chacón and Josué Ortíz participated in the Exchange Program during the Summer 2011. During the eight-week period, the students traveled to the URI campus to work actively in the development and execution of a transportation-related research study. A faculty advisor is assigned to each student to provide guidance and help them develop their research during the course of the internship. At the end of the period, the students present their research findings and conclusions to faculty, students, and staff in both universities.
UPRM – URI SUMMER TRANSPORTATION INTERNSHIP STUDENTS
The performance of the students in the UPRM-URI Summer Research Exchange Program provides solid evidence of its added value and significance. The Program has been very effective in attracting students from both academic institutions. A total of twenty-one undergraduate and graduate students (fifteen UPRM students and six URI students) have participated in the Exchange Program.
Another accomplishment for the UPRM-URI Program is the long-term effect on its participants toward continuing on further education and training in a transportation-related discipline. Five UPRM students were enrolled in graduate school in the Transportation Engineering program of the Department of Civil Engineering and Surveying when they participated in the program. Out of the ten undergraduate students that have participated, two are current undergraduate students at UPRM, five students have going on to continue graduate students in a transportation-related discipline, and two have going on to work on FHWA programs. The program has successfully attracted 70 percent of the UPRM undergraduate students, or 80 percent of all UPRM students, to continue a career in transportation.
In addition to acquire experience by conducting a research project as part of their education and training; the students in the Exchange Program benefit greatly from being exposed to transportation issues in a different setting, environment, and culture. It allows students from both institutions to perceive directly and personally the differences in the transportation systems and their users. This change in setting provides students with a different perspective that permits them to open their minds to analyze and evaluate issues in transportation in a global standpoint; a very important aspect in the professional development of college students that cannot be reached completely in the classroom.
The study of transportation problems requires research to develop new technology and methods to attain the always present objectives for mobility, accessibility, and safety, as well as the goals for sustainability and environmental conscience that have acquire more relevance in recent decades. The UPRM-URI Summer Research Exchange Program is a model for success in the promotion of new developments and professionals in the transportation field that merit to be expanded and replicated. The collaborative program needs to expand to effectively incorporate faculty and researchers from both universities to participate in the exchange of ideas and the development of new technology in transportation that can benefit from the particular experiences, environment, and culture that each institution can provide.