Image of award recipient with Donath, Work, and McGinnis

RSI director Max Donath, William Barbour, Dan
Work, and CTS director Laurie McGinnis

Each year, the Roadway Safety Institute chooses one graduate student for its Outstanding Student of the Year Award sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). This year’s recipient is William Barbour of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Barbour is advised by Daniel Work, assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UIUC.

Barbour has a strong multidisciplinary background through his work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and CSX Transportation. His initial research focused on using mobile sensor platforms in natural resource and agricultural applications. He is now using a data-driven algorithm design to research improvements in freight train arrival time estimates nationwide. He expects findings to benefit not only public and community safety but also rail network fluidity. “I hope that the insights gained and the algorithms developed in this project will go on to inform a twenty-first century railroad and make this growing portion of the transportation sector better and safer than ever,” he says.

Barbour’s research interests range from sensors and electrical engineering to data mining and analytics, applied to public and urban transportation systems, systems engineering and optimization, and sustainability. He has a bachelor’s degree in biosystems engineering from the University of Tennesee, Knoxville, and plans to complete his master’s degree in civil engineering in May 2017 and then pursue doctoral studies.

Barbour received a $2,000 award from the Institute and was presented with a certificate from USDOT officials at a ceremony held in conjunction with the TRB Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., in January.

In addition to Barbour’s award, 12 graduate students received travel awards from the Institute to attend the TRB Annual Meeting, where they presented research and networked with other attendees. Nine of these students were from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, one was from the University of Minnesota Duluth, and one was from Auburn University (a partner of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville).