What Engineers Want, Identifying Transportation Professionals as an Audience for Research
by Mid-America Transportation Center. on Jan 16, 2013
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Study done by Valerie Lefler (email@example.com) & Caitie Leibman (firstname.lastname@example.org) ...
Study done by Valerie Lefler (email@example.com) & Caitie Leibman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In the 2009 American Society of Civil Engineers Report Card on America’s infrastructure, it was revealed that “Americans spend 4.2 billion hours a year stuck in traffic at a cost to the economy of $78.2 billion, or $710 per motorist.” In addition in 2009, 33,808 fatalities occurred on our nation’s roads – which was also the leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 3 and 34 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
With over $2 billion of research being done on transportation infrastructure in the past six years, there are cutting edge answers, results, and ideas out there; however there is very little research on the best way to communicate these solutions and improvements to the practicing professionals in the field. In addition there is very little research done on the transportation engineer as a consumer and their preferences for receiving this information. If as a nation we are going to so much as maintain our crumbling infrastructure we have to find a practical and effective way to put this state of the art information in to the hands of the end users in the field. The research question the report ventures to answer is:
What can be done to make transportation research results more efficient, eminent, and impactful for transportation practitioners in the United States?
In analysis of the results several important elements were revealed (through the online survey) in answering this question, by investigating transportation professional’s consumer preferences for engineering research information. I first looked at the demographics of the professionals completing the survey as well as their preferences for electronic, hard copy and live transmission of research information and results. In addition, the usage of social media as it pertains to accessing or learning technical information was studied. Another piece of the puzzle investigated was the existing attitudes and perspectives towards research. Finally, the research briefly looked into how transportation professionals are accessing existing federal and nationally recognized transportation research resources and libraries.
In total 176 responses were received through an online survey and highlighted findings include:
-The technical brief (2 page research summary) was the most desired research information product and rated as the most overall effective method of receiving transportation research results. However, it currently is only the fifth most common way to receive research results compared to news and journal articles, etc. Adjusting reporting requirements to include technical summary information for sponsor agencies would be a relatively easy way to generate this product for working professionals.
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