December 2014 Catalyst

December 2014
From recreational vehicles in the northwest to Mayo Clinic in the southeast, Minnesota has a diverse and changing set of industry clusters. What do such clusters need to grow and prosper? Recent U of M studies take a look at the vital role of transportation. For example, a study of the greater Minneapolis–St. Paul area revealed that some important new clusters are emerging from existing competitive clusters. In another study, researchers interviewed several companies in varied clusters throughout Minnesota to learn which transportation issues are important to them.
The data collected at the scene of a crash by law enforcement officers are important for more than just drivers and their insurance companies. The information is also used on a much larger scale by state agencies and researchers to analyze and evaluate crashes, trends, and potential countermeasures. As part of an effort to improve the quality of this data in Minnesota, a team of researchers from the U of M’s HumanFIRST Laboratory are working on a redesign of the electronic crash report interface used by law enforcement officers. The team’s goal is to create a new interface that improves the accuracy, speed, reliability, and meaningfulness of crash report data.
Transportation practitioners have new tools to help keep road construction runoff out of our waters, thanks to research from the University of Minnesota. During a rainfall, eroded sediment can be quickly transported to nearby lakes or rivers. The amount of eroded sediment is typically gauged using turbidity values, which measure the cloudiness of a fluid. The research gives insight into overcoming the challenges and reducing the costs of turbidity monitoring at construction sites. Two turbidity monitoring systems were developed: one for overland flows, the other for dewatering activities.
The design of concrete pavements has advanced significantly in the past decade. To take advantage of these advancements, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) determined that it needed a new design tool tailored to Minnesota’s unique conditions. In collaboration with MnDOT engineers, U of M researchers developed a Windows-based database and software program. With this new tool, Minnesota’s state and local engineers will be able to incorporate the latest design procedures to create pavements that are cost-effective, longer-lasting, and better suited to Minnesota conditions.
Publication Credits 

Publisher/Director: Laurie McGinnis
Managing Editor: Pamela Snopl
Editors: Christine Anderson, Amy Friebe, Michael McCarthy
Designer: Angela Kronebusch
Freelance Writer: Megan Tsai