Name: Mohamed A. Abdel-Aty, Ph.D., P.E.
Title: Professor at University of Central Florida. Deputy Director of Transportation Safety and Operation, Center for Advanced Transportation Systems Simulation (CATSS) and Associate Editor of Accident Analysis and Prevention
Research interests: Traffic Safety Analysis, Intelligent Transportation Systems, Traffic Simulation, Transportation Demand Analysis, Transportation Planning Concepts and Methods, Computer, Statistical and Econometrics Applications in Transportation Engineering.
Dr. Abdel-Aty’s involvement with the UTC goes back to his days as a doctoral student. “I received the Dissertation Award for outstanding Ph.D. dissertation from the University of California Transportation Center (UCTC) in 1995. It was an honor to receive this award, as it was very competitive, and provided me with support to pursue my research.” As a master’s student at Alexandria University in Egypt, he focused on roadway simulation, and as a Ph.D. student at UC Davis he studied travel demand modeling. He then began to pursue his interest in traffic safety at the University of Central Florida (UCF). He proposed a new course in traffic safety analysis, which was the very first of its kind in Florida, and one among only a few in the country. He also began to work with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) on traffic safety projects. His work has since expanded to combine GIS and data mining with safety.
Abdel-Aty’s interest in safety is rooted in the fact that it has significant impact not only in the academic arena but also in broader society. He is particularly glad to have the opportunity to educate students on this topic, as it increases their understanding and appreciation of detail. “I really feel like I’m contributing something by working in this area.”
He is working with the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority (OOCEA) on “Efficient Utilization of the Existing ITS System and the Viability of a Proactive Traffic Management System for the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority System.” The OOCEA oversees a very large expressway system, and Dr. Abdel-Aty’s project will evaluate the existing ITS system to incorporate safety and operation into the existing ITS on the Orlando section of the expressway network. He is specifically investigating the viability of managing traffic by using automatic vehicle identification (AVI) traffic data to proactively identify freeway "hot-spots" in real-time.
His second project, "Integrating Safety in Developing a Variable Speed Limit System,” has been 10 years in the planning.
“I was partly inspired to do this project by my travels. I saw this technology being used in the Netherlands, and I wanted to see if it could be done here.”
This project explores the use of a Variable Speed Limit (VSL) system to prevent accidents. He believes that the analysis of ITS data could reveal a pattern that shows a potential for accidents. Seeing a pattern might allow for intervention and prevention of traffic or reduce the likelihood of accidents. For instance, by looking upstream at a traffic queue or a crash, it is possible to more quickly dissipate the queue so that the turbulence doesn’t last. Abdel-Aty thinks that VSL is the best way to achieve this.
In addition to his active research projects, Abdel-Aty keeps a full travel schedule. He maintains close connections with former students, who are now employed at institutions around the world. He frequently visits China and Korea to work with colleagues, who also help him recruit some of his best students. In fall 2013, he’ll be presenting a paper on VSL at the ITS World Congress in Tokyo. He’ll also deliver a keynote address at the University of the Ammam, attend the technical committee meeting, and present a paper at the International Road Federation Conference.
Dr. Abdel-Aty was recently appointed chair of the Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering Department at the University of Central Florida. He also is the editor-in-chief for the Accident Analysis and Prevention journal and is advising one masters and 11 doctoral students.