As a transportation guru, perhaps it is no surprise that Associate Professor Jeff Ban made his way to Seattle via an extensive road trip—all the way from New York. Ban joined the UW CEE department in mid-August, coming from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he was an associate professor in civil and environmental engineering and industrial and systems engineering for eight years.
Ban’s decision to join UW was based on a number of factors, including the high level of interdisciplinary collaboration with various departments and local agencies to solve transportation problems that have regional, national and international impact.
“UW CEE is among the top departments in the nation, with a very strong transportation program,” Ban said. “I am looking forward to collaborating with UW colleagues, state and local transportation agencies and industry to contribute to innovative solutions for transportation issues.”
With an interest in cars that started at a young age, Ban is very familiar with the transportation challenges of today. His transportation expertise has evolved over the years, building upon his various degrees, and his experience ranges from designing cars to developing transportation infrastructure. Originally from northern China, Ban holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees in automotive engineering from Tsinghua University, P.R. China. While earning his first master’s degree, Ban learned not only how to design vehicles, but about the larger transportation system, which piqued his interest in transportation science and engineering. Ban relocated to the United States to attend the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he earned a master’s degree in computer sciences and a Ph.D. in civil & environmental engineering.
Ban’s research interests are broad, spanning many facets of transportation. To resolve transportation related congestion, energy and emission problems in urban traffic areas, Ban uses mathematical modeling and computer simulation techniques to explore how various transportation systems operate in tandem, from freight trucks to passenger cars. To develop more efficient, safer transportation systems, he utilizes insight from vehicle sensors, as well as other data gathering methods, to learn about vehicle and transportation system performances.
Looking to the future of transportation, Ban also researches emerging driverless car technology and is working to develop Intelligent Transportation Systems technologies. By utilizing driver cell phones, GPS and other tracking systems in cars, real-time traffic data can be used to better monitor and manage existing systems.
As the fourth most quickly growing city in the United States, Seattle’s metropolitan area will provide an ideal setting for Ban’s research.
“Seattle is a fast-growing city with many transportation-related opportunities and challenges,” Ban said. “The agencies and industry in Seattle are very proactive in embracing new opportunities to solve these challenges.”
Ban is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2011 NSF CAREER Award, 2012 New Faculty Award by the Council of University Transportation Centers and American Road & Transportation Builders Association and the 2014 School of Engineering Research Excellence Award for junior faculty from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Ban is busy getting settled in Seattle with his wife, Lucy Lu, and two sons, Chris and Alan, who shared their father’s interest in cars when they were very young. And he is, of course, enjoying exploring the different transportation options the city has to offer.