In 2012, The Center for Transportation Research at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville launched the Traffic Signal Academy (TSA), adding to its nationally recognized continuing education program. TSA offers affordable education on many aspects of traffic signals focused on enhancing the design, operation, and maintenance capabilities of the transportation community. Prioritizing the student learning experience, a traffic signal laboratory at the National Transportation Research Center (NTRC) serves as a unique learning environment, providing hands-on experience on traffic signal equipment and simulation learning tools.
The curriculum is continuously expanding and allows students to select from six different classes:
- MUTCD and Signalized Intersections
- Traffic Signal Timing
- Traffic Signal Detection and Advanced Operations
- Traffic Signal Installation
- Traffic Signal Controller Programming
- Oversaturated Traffic Signal Systems
Classes are currently face-to-face and available throughout the year in several cities in Tennessee, in staggered (1 class/week), immersive (6 consecutive classes), or on-demand (travel to an agency) offerings.
Government employees, consulting engineers, technicians, and others involved in traffic signal design, operations, and maintenance benefit from the Traffic Signal Academy. The workshop material serves as a rich source of current information for people with different levels of experience in traffic signal operations. More specifically, the objectives for the target audience are:
- Consulting engineers present current information on standards, state-of-the-art equipment and signal timing practices, and promote consistency in design
- Technicians and contractors provide guidelines for efficient installation and maintenance of traffic signals equipment; explore alternatives for established practices; provide guidance on how to minimize liability and lawsuits; and present fundamentals
- Decision makers describe the relationship between traffic signal timing and transportation policy, demonstrate the importance of continued funding for maintenance, retiming, and capital improvement
Since its inception, TSA has provided training to more than 1,300 participants, including national (25 different states) and international (Canada, South Africa) attendees. The program is listed on the Federal Highway Administration Arterial Management Program website as a source of traffic signal training for the country. Beyond the established curriculum, TSA partners with federal and state agencies to bring guest speakers that point to industry trends and share information on traffic signal innovations and technology. Furthermore, TSA provides the opportunity for vendors to showcase their products in educational symposiums.
As a Research Associate at the University of Tennessee Center for Transportation Research, I lead the educational efforts of the Traffic Signal Academy and work to emphasize the vision of the program “to provide opportunity for a better transportation system through continuing education of traffic signal professionals of all levels.” Furthermore, I serve as a point of contact for technical assistance to those in need of clarification on traffic signal issues.
For course description and additional information on the Traffic Signal Academy, please go to trafficsignalacademy.utk.edu.