The 23rd Annual NJDOT Research Showcase was an opportunity for the New Jersey transportation community to learn about the broad scope of academic research initiatives underway and share technology transfer activities being conducted by institutions of higher education partners and their associates. The annual event serves as a showcase to present the ongoing initiatives and benefits of the NJDOT Research program. This event was the second Research Showcase conducted by webinar with sessions held from 9:00am-2:45pm on October 27, 2021.
The Research Showcase Program included presentations by university researchers, NJ agency representatives, and engineers offering their perspectives and fielding questions on topics including electrification of vehicles, smart transportation and energy use. These presentations were followed by poster sessions presenting research of students attending New Jersey’s universities and colleges.
Andrew Swords, Director, Division of Statewide Planning, New Jersey Department of Transportation welcomed attendees to the event.
The NJDOT Commissioner of Transportation, Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, provided opening remarks focusing on the need to work collectively to address climate change. Ms. Gutierrez-Scaccetti noted that partnerships among public, private, and academic organizations are essential to reach the state goal of an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. She touched on several recent NJDOT initiatives and adoption of technological innovations that support this goal and the agency’s mission to provide a safe, cost-effective transportation network for the traveling public. In his opening remarks, Robert Clark, Federal Highway Administration's New Jersey Division Administrator, emphasized the need for research and innovation and noted federal funding awarded to, and agency support for, recent NJDOT initiatives.
Jane Cohen, Executive Director, New Jersey Governor’s Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy gave the keynote address on "Confronting Climate Change through Transportation Initiatives." Ms. Cohen discussed the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and explained how temperature increases from climate change can intensify air pollution as well as respiratory and cardiovascular health concerns that are disproportionately borne by overburdened communities. Ms. Cohen emphasized that environmental justice and equity are at the center of the work being done to chart a path forward to a clean energy future. She highlighted recent landmark NJ state legislation (S-232 - Cumulative Impacts Law) and NJDEP's enforcement responsibilities to protect overburdened communities in permit review processes.
Noting that transportation makes up a larger percentage of greenhouse gas emissions, she stressed the need for coordination among state agencies to shift light duty, medium and heavy duty trucks, transit vehicles, and the state fleet to electric vehicles. NJ’s Partnership to Plug-In is a statewide initiative involving state agencies and private sector partners to build out the infrastructure needed to support electric vehicle ownership. Ms. Cohen mentioned various funding sources for projects, including the regional cap and trade system as part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, from the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Fund, the NJ Zero Emission Incentive Program for the purchase of EVs, and an e-mobility program in Trenton through ISLES. She highlighted several other essential transportation initiatives that are aligned with climate planning. including the adoption of Complete Streets policies, Transit Villages, and efforts to reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT). She promoted the value of integrating green infrastructure such as wetlands and rain gardens in transportation for greater resilience to stormwater and flooding.
In her closing remarks, she made an appeal to those in attendance to recognize the urgency of the moment and reflect on how they might contribute innovative solutions and how they might partner to work collectively toward addressing the challenges of climate change. She recognized the Build the Better Mousetrap Competition as an example of adopting an orientation favorable to innovation. She stressed that her office welcomes new ideas such as pilot projects and programs and partnerships.
A panel of presenters from representing state agencies, academia, and industry followed:
- Peg Hanna, Assistant Director, Air Monitoring and Mobile Sources, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, spoke about the need to use various approaches to reach goals, such as the Electric Shared Mobility Program grants and the DEP-funded ISLES program in Trenton, and the value of working with local residents to understand transportation needs and gaps, working with the private sector, and considering the sustainability of any program.
- Andrew Tunnard, Assistant Commissioner, Transportation Operations Systems and Support, New Jersey Department of Transportation, introduced a study, New Jersey Fleet Electrification: Statewide Charging Facilities Design Recommendations, undertaken to determine locations for the state build-out of EV infrastructure and to create a framework for state agencies to move toward their goals of fleet transition.
- Alain Kornhauser, PhD, Professor of Operations Research & Financial Engineering, Princeton University, discussed details of the study, including the cost/benefit analysis comparing EV charging infrastructure favorably to internal combustion fueling locations, and the equitable distribution of the burden for creating EV infrastructure among state agencies.
- Spencer Reeder, Director of Government Affairs and Sustainability, Audi of America, spoke about the emerging market for electric vehicles and the expansion of options for buyers.
- Julia Rege, Vice President for Energy and Environment, Alliance for Automotive Innovation, spoke about the need for purchase incentives for electric vehicles, for more infrastructure including more charging capacity, and to switch manufacturing and supply that is still geared to the internal combustion fleet.
Presenters responded to attendee questions. The audience was informed that research ideas can be submitted to the Transportation Research Ideas Portal through the NJDOT Technology Transfer website.
The program continued as Amanda Gendek, Manager, NJDOT Bureau of Research, announced several awards given in recognition of research, innovation and implementation efforts. Below is a listing of the award winners presented at this year's showcase:
- 2021 Outstanding University Student in Transportation Research Award – Wei Huang, Rutgers University (Implementation of Porous Concrete for Sidewalks in New Jersey)
- 2021 Best Poster Award – Xiao Chen, Rutgers University (Hot in-Place Recycling of Asphalt Pavement: Current Practice and New Technology)
- 2021 NJDOT Research Implementation Award – Husam Najm, Hao Wang, Rutgers University (Implementation of Pervious (Porous) Concrete for Sidewalks)
- 2021 NJDOT Build a Better Mousetrap Award (State Agency) – Marc Franco, NJ TRANSIT, Tire Centerline Bracket
- 2021 NJDOT Build a Better Mousetrap Award (Local Agency) – Art Villano, Montgomery Township, Inlet Repair Trailer
The Build a Better a Mousetrap Award for an entry from a state agency was given to Marc Franco from NJ TRANSIT. His Tire Centerline bracket provides a simple means for finding the centerline of the tire when installing the air-operated snow chain systems on the fleet of buses. The process, critical to the proper operation of these systems, increases safety and efficiency, and reduces costs.
The Build a Better a Mousetrap Award for an entry from a local agency was given to Art Villano from Montgomery Township who found a more efficient means to transport all needed equipment and materials to work sites to conduct inlet repairs. The use of a low deck trailer and the availability of an electric crane increased safety for workers.
In the afternoon, concurrent break-out sessions for research presentations focused on the topics of Energy/Electrification, Infrastructure, and Smart Transportation, and for the presentation of posters from students and researchers at New Jersey’s colleges and universities describing their methods and findings on ongoing and recently completed research and responding to questions by attendees.
Energy/Electrification Session Recording
Smart Transportation Session Recording
Infrastructure Session Recording
Poster Session Recording
Smart Transportation Presentations
The 23rd Annual NJDOT Research Showcase was organized and sponsored by the NJDOT Bureau of Research in partnership with the New Jersey Local Technical Assistance Program (NJLTAP) at Rutgers Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) and co-sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration.