On February 26, a team of three CEE students, Alexandra Boggs, Behram Wali, and Kristina King, placed first in the Tennessee Section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (TSITE) Traffic Bowl competition over four other schools: Tennessee State University, Tennessee Technological University, University of Memphis and Vanderbilt University. Their first place finish means they will advance to the District Institute of Transportation Engineers Traffic Bowl on April 9-13. If that goes well, the team could compete at the International level.
The TSITE Traffic Bowl is held annually at the winter meeting and follows the same rules as the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) International Collegiate Traffic Bowl, an annual competition in which ITE student chapter teams participate in a Jeopardy-style contest with questions about transportation planning and engineering.
“We are proud of our ITE Student Chapter winning the Tennessee State ITE Traffic Bowl, says CEE professor Dr. Nambisan. “This is a reflection of their ability to work effectively as a team to demonstrate their knowledge of transportation engineering topics. We wish them continued success in the District level Traffic Bowl in which they will compete against teams representing the states of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.”
Particularly exciting for this year’s team is how they came from behind to end up winning first place. “It was nerve wracking!” says Boggs. Kwaku Boakye, CEE graduate student and president of the ITE student chapter also attended the Traffic Bowl and says, “I have had the opportunity to participate and watch several traffic bowl competitions, but it has never been this intense and keenly contested as we witnessed this time.” Also accompanying the team were Pankaj Dahal, who served as an alternate member, along with Brandon Whetsel, Nirbesh Dhakal, and Xiaobing Li who came to provide support.
In the preliminary round, the team competed with Tennessee State University and managed to score high enough to qualify for the finals. The final round against Vanderbilt was more of an uphill challenge. Vanderbilt took the lead and earned 1500 points, while UT was struggling at -600 points. UT fought back to eventually tie the score at 1800 points going into the final round. The team applied the “all or nothing” strategy that they had practiced in class, and wagered a whopping 1800 points. This big risk led to a big payoff! The group only had to answer three out of the final four questions correctly, but it ended up answering all four parts correctly.
“This traffic bowl competition was a nonpareil exercise to understand that both success and failure are not permanent, I believe,” says Wali. “I’m happy to belong to this team of UT champions, and to have contending team members of Ali and Kristina. We look forward to the district competition in Nashville.”
Boakye helped recruit this year’s winning team and says, “With our recent recruiting success, the resultant strong team of students, and their hard work, we not only were able to perform well at the state level, we could very possibly go all the way to the International round again.” In 2014, UT CEE students came in 2nd place in the International Collegiate Traffic Bowl.