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Virginia Tech Police, Athletics team up with engineering seniors to relieve gridiron gridlock

virginia tech football traffic
Seniors from the College of Engineering have been applying the latest technologies to solve game day football traffic this semester. Back row (left to right): Runping Yu, Yangyi Li. Front row (left to right): Deborah Asabere, Rebecca Gullickson, Angela Liang.

What does it take to keep 65,000 football fans moving after a Virginia Tech football game?

Six students from the Virginia Tech College of Engineering tackled that question for their senior capstone project this semester.

For the past three football seasons, seniors from the College of Engineering have teamed up with the Virginia Tech Police Department and Virginia Tech Athletics to study football game day traffic and provide recommendations around improving congestion.

Before each game, students set up video cameras throughout the biggest game day traffic routes. During and after the games, students gather firsthand observational data. They work together to couple this data with the latest computer modeling technologies to provide feedback to Virginia Tech Police and Athletics around traffic pain point areas.

Specific focus areas during the 2018 football season have included:

  • Examining the team bus loading and offloading process to improve congestion.
  • Pinpointing most-utilized pedestrian foot traffic routes to improve safety and efficiency.
  • Examining traffic patterns in and around Washington Street parking lots to maximize ease of exiting.

When asked about their experiences participating in the program, students praised the opportunity to apply the engineering knowledge and skills they have gained in the classroom to help improve an issue everyone on campus cares about: traffic. They also shared how the perspective gained from studying game day traffic patterns is highly-relevant to other industries, from urban planning to large-scale event management and security.

“We’re thrilled to be able to collaborate with students from the College of Engineering for a third football season. The fresh perspective and insights students bring to address game day traffic is extremely valuable to Virginia Tech Police,” said Sergeant Tom R. Gallemore.

The seniors will present their findings at the College of Engineering’s Senior Symposium in April.