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Transportation Engineering

Graduate students perform a simulator study in the Human Factors and Statistical Modeling Lab.Graduate students perform a simulator study in the Human Factors and Statistical Modeling Lab.


From mobility to safety, UW CEE transportation engineering researchers develop solutions to pressing challenges in the transportation field. Research in this area is booming, driving rapid improvements in transportation systems worldwide. Recent developments include $14 million in research funding from the United States Department of Transportation to support the PacTrans Center’s research on urban and rural mobility. UW CEE’s transportation engineering program is internationally recognized for its quality in research and education. The program has well-established connections with universities and transportation research institutes in China, Japan and many European countries.

Research covers a variety of topics, including transportation planning, traffic system operations, logistics and freight transportation, transportation network system analysis, intelligent transportation systems, transit system planning, travel behavior and demand modeling, resilient infrastructure systems, traffic safety, human factors analysis and sustainable transportation infrastructure design. CEE’s transportation program works closely with industry and government to ensure that relevant transportation topics are covered in both research agendas and the curriculum. 

Research topics

Student research

researcher by rail crossing

The U.S. relies on an expansive rail network, which often crosses highways at-grade along the way. In recent years, placing trails next to railroads has increased bicycle infrastructure, but complicates crossings. To better understand the intersections, particularly how their safety can be improved, a team of researchers from the SCTL Center, including graduate students Anna Alligood and Polina Butrina, worked with the Oregon Department of Transportation. The researchers visited sites across the state to collect data and observations. The project produced a guidebook for use by public agencies to increase safety at highway-rail-trail crossings.

researchers in front of a map

It has historically been difficult and expensive to collect passenger travel data in order to improve transit service. However, thanks to new technology developed by UW CEE researchers, it is now easier and less expensive to learn about travel patterns. The technology detects the unique Media Access Control address of mobile devices and gathers data such as where bus riders board and disembark and how much time passes before they catch another bus. The research team includes Ph.D. student Kristian Henrickson, alumni Yegor Malinovskiy and Matthew Dunlap, research associate Zhibin Li and professor Yinhai Wang.

Labs & research groups

CEE faculty oversee labs and research groups, where they investigate a variety of critical problems related to transportation engineering. Undergraduate and graduate students are encouraged to participate in research.


UW CEE hosts several centers, funded by industry and government. The centers headquarter research on specific themes and act as hubs connecting faculty and students with resources to support research, education and outreach activities.

Professional societies

ASCE Transportation & Development Institute
Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA)
Institute of Transportation Engineers
Transportation Research Board
American Planning Association
Transportation Club of Seattle
Transportation Club of Tacoma
Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP)

Degree programs

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