Virginia Tech Offers Human Factors of Transportation Safety Graduate Certificate Program

Virginia Tech graduate students have a unique opportunity to participate in the Human Factors of Transportation Safety Graduate Certificate Program (HFTS GCP). The HFTS GCP is the first educational program to focus on human factors issues related to transportation safety. The program is designed to bring to life Virginia Tech’s hands-on and minds-on approaches to education.  Graduate students enrolled in the program are offered a customizable formal educational path in the human factors of transportation safety, as well as research opportunities designed to help government agencies and the private sector address the greatest transportation issues of today and the future.

The HFTS GCP is administered by VTTI with support from the Graduate School and affiliated faculty in the departments of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Industrial and Systems Engineering, Psychology, and Statistics. The certificate program has been designed to create and deliver in-depth knowledge and marketable skills applied to the research, evaluation, maintenance, improvement, and protection of all ground transportation users and their communities – all from a human factors’ perspective. Students enrolled in the program will become leaders in the field of transportation safety within the Commonwealth, across the nation, and internationally. 

For more than 30 years, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) has worked to ensure the safety of transportation users by leading cutting-edge research, especially in the pioneering of naturalistic study methods. VTTI’s innovative approaches, world-class facilities, and largest group of driving safety researchers in the world have led to a better understanding of such transportation challenges as distraction, inattention, fatigue, and the risks associated with teenaged and older drivers. 

Each year, more than 30,000 fatalities occur on U.S. highways (NHTSA Fatality Analysis Reporting System). Driver behavior is at the root of most crashes, thus human factors play a crucial role in designing efforts that enhance transportation safety and reduce crashes.

Alex Noble, a PhD Candidate in the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department at Virginia Tech and a VTTI Graduate Research Assistant, completed the HFTS GCP in 2015. She is developing and leading research projects in driver behavior with emerging vehicle technologies such as connected and automated vehicle systems. “When I enrolled in the HFTS GCP as a Master’s student, I was not aware of the opportunities that would be in store for me,” says Noble.  “Not only did the certificate program provide me with coursework options which exposed me to different areas of study required to be a successful transportation safety researcher, it also provided me with countless opportunities to present my research and interact with leaders in the field from the government, industry, and academia.”

The certificate requires a total of four courses (12 credits). Students take one course from each of the following categories: Transportation Safety / Risk Core; Human Factors Core; and Statistics and Research Design.  The fourth course may be chosen from either Transportation-Related Engineering / Modeling / Design or Human Factors Aspects of Transportation.  In addition, courses from at least 3 of the 5 affiliated departments must be represented in the selected course options. In addition to the required coursework, the student’s thesis or dissertation must represent the broad field of transportation safety.  VTTI-based graduate research assistantships and industry-based internship opportunities are also conditionally available to students enrolled in the program.

John Antin, Human Factors of Transportation Safety Graduate Certificate Program Coordinator

Dr.  Jon Antin, Director of VTTI’s Center for Vulnerable Road User Safety, serves as the HFTS GCP Coordinator, with strong support from his VTTI colleagues on the Administration Team, Ron Gibbons, Ph.D., Feng Guo, Ph.D., Rich Hanowski, Ph.D., and Miguel Perez, Ph.D. Dr. Antin: “I’m proud of how this unique multidisciplinary academic program is helping the next generation of researchers and stakeholders be better equipped to understand and address the critical human factors and safety issues of our rapidly changing transportation landscape.”

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