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Research Projects (2000-01)

Identifying Number


Project Title

North Front Range Transportation Research Internships


Colorado State University

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Richard M. Gutkowski
Department of Civil Engineering
Colorado State University
(970)491-8291 or Fax (970)491-2788

Neil S. Grigg, Head
Department of Civil Engineering
Colorado State University
(970)491-5049 or Fax (970)491-7727

External Project Contact

Vicky McLane
Transportation Program Manager
210 E. Olive Street
Ft Collins, CO 80524
(970)224-6059 or Fax (970)224-6239

Project Objective

The objective of the project is to provide cooperation and student research assistance in the conduct of priority transportation and transportation research studies conducted by local and county transportation agencies and industry in northern Colorado.

Project Abstract

Colorado State University and the North Front Range Transportation & Air Quality Planning Council (NFRT & AQPC) (hereafter "the Council") determine externally funded research projects that will benefit from the participation of student research interns from CSU. An annual process of identification and placement of interested, qualified student interns into active research activities in these projects and reporting of the progress and outcomes of the projects is described.

The NFRT & AQPC is the Metropolitan Planning Organization for an area comprised of Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley in northern Colorado and the municipalities around and between these communities. In 1994 the NFRT & AQPC adopted the 2105 Regional Transportation Plan. Because the North Front Range is a dynamic area of rapidly growing population, the Council continually updates and refines the regional transportation needs and has an extended time horizon to the year 2020. Hence, the plan has been renamed as the North Front Range 2020 Regional Transportation Plan.

The Council and local and county government transportation agencies have established and conducted an exhaustive, detailed project identification and prioritizing process consistent with the statewide planning process conducted via the Colorado Department of Transportation. This MPC project utilizes the outcomes of this regional planning and subsequent state, county and locally funded projects as the base for establishing student intern needs and matching the student to them based on interests and qualifications. The involved transportation agencies and industry firms contracted by the agencies provide dollar resources for the paid internships and pertinent support budget related to the intern's duties.

Task Descriptions

The internship placement is conducted each semester. The process for determining projects, assigning the interns and reporting on the conduct of the individual research assignments is as follows:

A project identification meeting of the CSU program director and the NFRT & AQPC director serves to determine potential public agency and industry-funded projects with intern needs. An advertising (including a web site, flyers, class announcement, etc.), solicitation and interview process is conducted to identify 2-3 intern applicants per potential project for consideration by the public agencies and industry parties. Offers of internships are made based on agency and industry choices until the positions are filled.

An organizational information and planning meeting with all interns and their employers involved in the conduct of the research projects. This serves to provide common information on the conduct, reporting and tracking requirements for each internship.

Each intern prepares a summary report on his/her completed internship. The web site is updated to reflect the recently completed internship and the next year's application and interview schedule.

Milestones, Dates

  • Starting Date: July 1, 2000
  • Project Milestones:
    • Hiring of interns Beginning of each semester
    • Completion of internships End of each semester or summer
    • Summary reports from interns End of each semester or summer
    • Updated web site end of each semester or summer
  • Ending Date: June 30, 2001

Yearly and Total Budget

This is an annual project. The attached budget is for July 1, 2000-June 30, 2001. The amount requested is $23,024 USDOT and is augmented by $15,964 as a CSU match. The total budget is $38,988.

Student Involvement

This project is specifically established for student participation in actual transportation projects of public agencies and industry. Paid agency and industry internships are provided in the area of transportation planning and management. Typically 8-10 interns are placed annually.

Relationship to Other Research Projects

Independent of and prior to the above developments, as a pilot activity in the MPC Tenth Year program plan, a student research intern was active on an MPC project entitled "North Front Range Transportation Alternatives Feasibility Study." That internship related to a scoping study (Phase I) of the corridor between Ft. Collins/Loveland/Greeley and Denver to establish conceptual model alternatives for the increasingly heavy traffic corridor. The technical work was concluded on December 31, 1997. The internship was very successful and all agency participants enthusiastically advocate d an expansion into an annual internship program with increasing numbers of student participants.

Based on that dialogue and a presentation to the Technical Advisory Committee of the NFRT & AQPC an endorsement of a formal continuation ensued. It was determined that an internship program be timed for the period of June or July through December, encompassing a summer and fall semester. An MPC project was funded in Year 11 to activate the formal process. The fall semester would be used for the annual process of selecting research projects and identifying the internships. The process for selecting internships is described in a web site used for soliciting student applicants and in a forthcoming MPC report. In 1997-98 the program involved 4 internships and in 1998-99, expanded to 10 students and a solicitation was done for both fall and spring semesters. The trend is about 8-10 students annually but expansion is being explored due to the success of the program and increased external interest.

Technology Transfer Attributes

The major end user s of the research a re local, state an d federal planning agencies which will utilize the results of the studies to guide their future investments in the North Front Range transportation needs in Colorado. In-kind and hard dollar cost shares being made by both the public and private sectors ensure a commitment to maximize the quality and dissemination of the results. The regional and statewide planning processes have extensive reporting of results in open public meetings, conferences, workshops, web site and other professional forums.

Potential Benefits of the Project

The projects the student interns are engaged in are de rived directly as priority projects identified in the North Front Range regional and the statewide planning processes in Colorado. Thus, they meet the most compelling research needs identified by the providers and users of transportation services in Colorado. As related to the interns themselves, each gains a challenging, hands-on experience in transportation research and planning. This is invaluable to the career paths and foster strong potential for them to elect to continue such careers and help provide solutions to the transportation needs of the nation. Several past interns were subsequently employed by the companies involved in their internship, and that incentive and potential is always present.

TRB Keywords

Transportation, interns, research, students

NDSU Dept 2880P.O. Box 6050Fargo, ND 58108-6050