Cody Howard
School of Engineering

KU Engineering claims 1st place in regional 'Traffic Bowl' competition, qualifies for nationals

Wed, 07/17/2019

LAWRENCE — University of Kansas School of Engineering students are preparing for a national championship this month after winning a regional “traffic bowl” competition.

"This was a huge win for all of us,” Nikhila Gunda, graduate student in transportation engineering and construction management, said after KU won the Midwestern District Traffic Bowl, sponsored by the Institute of Transportation Engineers.

Gunda led a four-person team of KU students at last month's competition in St. Louis. The “Jeopardy”-style contest features 25 questions — including a “Daily Double” — in five categories. The questions test the students on their knowledge of transportation planning and engineering topics, ranging from street signs and pavement markings to road construction standards and highway capacity considerations. That requires a deep knowledge of the standard transportation manuals that guide traffic planning in the United States and Canada.

"We have seven manuals that we are supposed to study,” Gunda said. While team members were generally familiar with all the manuals, she said, they prepared for competition by divvying up the manuals so that each member could intensively review just a couple.

"All these books are tied up in your curriculum one way or another,” she said.

KU previously won the regional competition in 2009 and 2011, and Gunda said this year’s team was particularly motivated to become the fourth winner in the school’s history.

"I think we were prepared mentally. I am particularly focused on winning stuff — that's a blessing and curse I have,” she said. 

Other team members included civil, environmental & architectural engineering graduate students Irtiza Rafid Khan and Ashkay Patel as well as senior Zeyad Dessouki.

The regional win means KU will now compete for ITE’s grand championship at a meet July 21-24 in Austin, Texas. Eight other regional champions — including one from Canada — will also participate.

"I'm hoping we win the grand competition,” Gunda said.

Other regional winners include the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Penn State University, Trine University, the University of Kentucky, California Polytechnic-San Luis Obispo, the University of Alberta, the University of Texas and the University of Florida. The winning team will receive a $2,000 cash award.

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