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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI, USDOT name Groton resident Outstanding Transportation Student of the Year

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

KINGSTON, R.I. -- March 8, 2004 -- As a graduate student in the University of Rhode Islandís Community Planning program, Samuel Eisenbeiser played a key role in a research project aimed at using computer models to influence traffic patterns on Aquidneck Island.

As a result of this research and his high academic excellence, Eisenbeiser was named Rhode Islandís Outstanding Transportation Student of the Year last month by the URI Transportation Center and the U.S. Department of Transportation. He was one of 33 students nationwide who received the award at ceremonies in Washington, D.C. The award included $1,000 and a certificate of achievement.

"Sam is a great example of the type of student we try to support through the
URI Transportation Center. He was not only able to achieve a strong academic record but was able to apply classroom theory to very practical transportation issues facing the communities of Aquidneck Island," said Transportation Center Director Richard Horn.

The Outstanding Transportation Student of the Year award recognizes one student from each of the 33 University Transportation Centers nationwide. Award winners are graduate degree candidates selected on their technical merit, research contributions, academic performance, professionalism and leadership. The University Transportation Centers were established in 1987 to advance transportation technology and expertise through education, research and technology transfer. The URI center was authorized in 1998 and is one of only six receiving the maximum funding of $2 million per year.

A resident of Groton, Conn. who grew up in Chelsea, Mich., Eisenbeiser spent six years in the Coast Guard, first as a deck watch officer aboard a 180-foot buoy tender and later helping to upgrade the systems of buoys, lighthouses and fixed aids-to-navigation that guide mariners through the waters of the northeastern U.S.

His Coast Guard service led to a desire to build a career "based on my interests in geography, transportation and urban living," he said. "I consider community planning to be a societal good. Iím interested in the link between our transportation systems and our patterns of land use and how this connection impacts our quality of life."

Eisenbeiserís Aquidneck Island research, in collaboration with fellow student Jocelyn Boyce, the Aquidneck Island Planning commission, and URI Community Planning Professor Farhad Atash, used case studies at sites in the three island communities to devise scenarios to change the roadway configuration or land use.

"We used the models to determine how the scenarios might influence traffic patterns on the surrounding streets," Eisenbeiser said. "Our intent was to demonstrate how the model can be used by planners to support decision making."

Following graduation from URI last spring, Eisenbeiser was hired by Fitzgerald & Halliday, Inc., a full-service planning consulting firm involved in many transportation studies. Among the many projects he has worked on there is a study on how changes in lane configuration may reduce highway congestion, and an effort to demonstrate how a community can use zoning regulations to affect the character of its neighborhoods in preparation for a new arterial roadway.

As Eisenbeiser looks to his future, he sees technology playing a bigger and bigger role in community planning. "Over the next five to ten years I expect to use advancing technology like geographic information systems, visual simulation and 3-D modeling to aid the process of community planning. Iím also interested in pursuing innovative solutions to traffic congestion such as Personal Rapid Transit."