Students team up to model downtown traffic flows
Cassie Milestone, Urban Planning Manager at the Downtown Denver Partnership (DDP) and long-time partner of the Business School, was staring at a giant puzzle.
What if the city closed off streets near Union Station to accommodate a street festival? What would happen to traffic flows?
A quick conversation with Dean Sueann Ambron led to the idea of designing a class project around the puzzle at hand. Business School Professor Gary Kochenberger agreed it would make a great problem for his Decision Sciences Capstone Master class—a three-semester-hour “practicum” applied to a real-world challenge.
Redesigning traffic flows around Union Station pushed critical-thinking skills to limit
His six students got to work analyzing and modeling traffic flows in lower downtown Denver. They used Simio, a robust simulation tool, to model what might happen if the city closed certain streets during peak and non-peak times of the day. The project stretched the students’ critical-thinking and team skills to the limit.
“I had some sleepless nights because of the complexity,” confessed Kochenberger. “These students were tasked with building a dynamic logic model for traffic flow while learning a whole new software program."
Downtown Denver Partnership noted the model's 'visual sophistication'
The students presented their preliminary recommendations to a room packed with urban planners and transportation experts. Their demo of the Simio simulation, built intersection by intersection, captivated the attention of the group.
“The visual sophistication of this model is amazing,” said Milestone. The simulation showed cars queuing at intersections, bicycles cruising the streets and realistic building details.
“I can see using a simulation like this to show condo owners a neighborhood concept, or to get buy-in on a future urban project,” Milestone added.
Students involved in the project were Matt Berkeland, Ethan Chen, Trevor Daly, Derek Serlet, Michael Skorupka, and Lisa Zuniga. No surprise: They aced the class.
For more information about this project contact Professor Kochenberger at firstname.lastname@example.org.