This fall, 15 professionals from the Shenzhen Urban Transportation Planning Center (SUTPC) came to Minnesota for a new training opportunity. The four-week course was offered by the U of M’s Global Transit Innovations (GTI) Program, CTS, and the China Center’s Mingda Institute for Leadership Training.
“The overall goal is to help to advance the participants’ professional skills and knowledge of state-of-the-art transportation research and practices in the United States, and to identify international collaboration opportunities,” says Yingling Fan, associate professor in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and GTI director.
The course, sponsored by SUTPC, focused on urban transportation planning and design. The 15 professionals were selected by SUTPC leadership. “The participants tend to be mid-career professionals in their departments who are tapped for career advancement,” Fan says. SUTPC plans to sponsor the training yearly.
The course included workshops featuring U of M researchers from multiple departments as well as speakers from the public sector, consulting firms, and other organizations. Field trips to area sites and facilities were also part of the curriculum. “We’re lucky to have this great region as an urban laboratory to teach transportation options,” Fan says.
One of the participants was Zhengxiang Ji, a transportation senior planning engineer/vice president of the Guangxi Branch of SUTPC. “I learned so much through communicating with local professors and engineers,” he says. Another participant, transportation modeler Liu He, noted his interest in the sessions on public involvement and accessibility for people with disabilities.
The SUTPC professionals also shared their insights with Minnesota practitioners and discussed transportation trends in the U.S. and China at a half-day GTI forum.
Established in 1996, SUTPC has grown into the largest transportation planning, design, and research organization in China. “During the early days, the organization had benefited from adopting the best practices in transportation planning from Hong Kong and Singapore,” says Xiaochun Zhang, SUTPC director.“The United States has formed comprehensive regulation and management frameworks for urban transportation planning,” Zhang continues. “Minnesota is a progressive state in which many innovative transportation policies and planning approaches have been implemented. Further, the University of Minnesota is leading the world in many transportation research fields, including travel happiness research. For these reasons, SUTPC chose the United States, chose Minnesota, and chose the University of Minnesota to carry out training and exchange activities.”
The new course is part of GTI’s growing portfolio of educational programs. In spring semester 2017, GTI coordinated a study-abroad course that included visits to five cities in China. The course was offered by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs; SUTPC was one of the host organizations. A study-abroad course will be offered again in spring 2018.
GTI is an affiliated program of CTS.