Qin named director of IPIT: Highway safety expert to lead UWM’s work on solving national transportation issues

Xiao Qin, a professor in civil & environmental engineering at UWM, has been named director of UWM’s Institute for Physical Infrastructure & Transportation (IPIT).

Qin is a transportation engineer and a nationally renowned expert in transportation data analytics and highway safety.

His appointment follows the retirement of founding director Al Ghorbanpoor, professor emeritus, civil and environmental engineering.

IPIT trains an interdisciplinary lens on solving both local and national transportation issues. Founded in 2017, the institute brings together faculty, industry representatives, and others with expertise in engineering, computer science, urban planning, social science, economy, and policy to find solutions to physical infrastructure and transportation problems.

As the state and nation face questions of allocating resources to infrastructure design, building, repair, maintenance and operations, UWM’s extensive research on creating safer roads, preventing road and bridge failure, preparing for vehicles of the future, increasing the use of mass transportation, creating transportation alternatives for seniors, and more are seen as paramount to addressing the state’s challenges.

IPIT’s new leadership pairs research excellence with public industry

Mark Gottlieb will continue his role as associate director of the institute. Gottlieb served as Wisconsin’s Transportation Secretary from 2011 to 2017.

This leadership pairing of academic research with boots-on-the ground experience is seen as crucial to solving regional and state transportation issues that breach the domain of engineering.

“Together we will tackle a diverse range of problems,” says Qin, “from technological, economic and policy issues to transportation mobility, safety, equity and sustainability.”

Qin is a nationally renowned transportation engineer and expert in highway safety analytics

Qin and his UWM research team have collaborated with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for years to better position Wisconsin as a leader in transportation and safety efficiency. For example, he successfully led an initiative in 2018 by developing strategies to modernize WisDOT’s legacy spatial and location management systems and helped the agency to identify crash risk factors and evaluate safety improvement countermeasures.

Qin’s research identifies critical issues and solutions to improve transportation systems. He uses statistical modeling, data analytics and engineering techniques to analyze factors –including roadway design, traffic control, weather, vehicle technologies, driver characteristics and behavior –that contribute to motor vehicle crashes, travel costs, traffic congestions and more.

He is a committee member of the Transportation Research Board, editor of both the Transportation Research Record and the Journal of Transportation Safety & Security, and an advisory board member of Accident Analysis and Prevention. He co-authored the textbook Highway Safety Analytics and Modeling, which addresses how to make better engineering and policy decisions using the latest methods and tools for collecting and analyzing highway crash data.

Gottlieb, a distinguished alumnus, brings 20 years’ experience to new post

Gottlieb’s extensive experience and understanding of Wisconsin’s transportation needs are key to developing practical solutions grounded in the latest fundamental knowledge.

In addition to serving as Wisconsin’s Transportation Secretary for six years, he has more than 20 years’ experience as a civil engineer in both the public and private sectors. He also served in the Wisconsin State Assembly for eight years and was mayor of the City of Port Washington. He is a UWM alum, having received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering, and was honored as a College of Engineering & Applied Science Distinguished Alumnus in 2013.

“It’s a great opportunity to return to UWM to help Professor Qin and the other affiliated faculty members advance the goals of the institute to solve our state’s transportation problems,” Gottlieb said.

His work for the institute will include strengthening external partnerships, helping to identify research opportunities to solve real-world problems and assisting in the planning for research symposia, seminars and other events.

This expertise and knowledge will help ensure that the research undertaken at IPIT—by faculty and students—will have a significant impact on the state’s most pressing transportation problems.