Penn State transportation students take third at Collegiate Traffic Bowl

BOSTON -- Penn State transportation engineering students earned high honors in a national competition at the fourth annual Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Collegiate Traffic Bowl Grand Championship during the 2013 ITE annual meeting and exhibit Aug. 6 in Boston.

The Penn State team placed third out of 62 teams from the United States and Canada.

The ITE Collegiate Traffic Bowl is a competition among ITE student chapters with transportation planning and engineering topics for the clues, questions and answers. Student teams from 62 of 148 universities with ITE student chapters in the United States and Canada competed in section and district-level events for a chance to compete in the Grand Championship. More than 190 ITE student members competed.

Andrew Butsick, Philip Kulis, Paul Stager and Krae Stieffenhofer, all master's degree students in civil engineering at Penn State and graduate assistants at the Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute, defeated teams from Delaware, Morgan State and Villanova to claim the district title and advance to the national finals.

The "Jeopardy!"-style competition derives its questions from half a dozen standard transportation reference manuals. Team members are nominated by the members of their school's ITE chapter.

"The entire ITE Traffic Bowl experience was extremely gratifying," said Butsick. "We were able to meet and interact with transportation engineering students from around North America, and the competition provided a medium through which we were able to share experiences and struggles in pursuing higher education, as well as establish an extended network of colleagues and friends in the field of transportation."

Nine teams entered the final contest, which was a featured event at the three-day conference. Penn State won its first round handily to become one of the final three.

"It was a lot of fun for us," said Kulis. "We had reviewed the MUTCD (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices) and other manuals before the competition, so we felt well prepared. The first round we didn't have much trouble getting through, but the final round was much more challenging. I think we represented the civil engineering program at Penn State well."

Butsick added, "Even though we were only able to place third in the Grand Championship, the lively spirit of the competition made the experience fun and enjoyable."

"I commend their success," said ITE chapter adviser Martin Pietrucha, professor of civil engineering at Penn State and Larson Institute director. "The ITE Collegiate Traffic Bowl is a true test of mental calisthenics and long-distance thinking."

The University of Florida finished in first place, receiving the $2,000 grand prize. The University of Tennessee-Knoxville finished second.

All teams participating in the Grand Championship received a $2,000 travel grant and complimentary student registrations for ITE's international annual meeting and exhibit.

The objectives of the ITE Collegiate Traffic Bowl are to encourage students to become more active members in ITE; to enhance their knowledge of the traffic/transportation engineering and planning profession, and of ITE itself; and to strengthen ITE student chapter programs.

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Last Updated August 20, 2013