Recognized for being at the top of his peers, 2014 University of California, Berkeley graduate Jack Reilly received the Milton Pikarsky Memorial Award in Science and Technology for his Ph.D. from the Council of Universities Transportation Center (CUTC). Graduate students from academic transportation centers across the U.S. were nominated for the award.
“I was honored to learn that others in my field found value and merit in the research I have been conducting for the last few years,” says Reilly. “I believe it's also validation of the approach to research emphasized in the Mobile Millennium and Connected Corridors projects since I have been in the lab: theoretical contributions to the transportation field with accessible and real-world results in implementation.”
Reilly completed his doctoral degree in October 2014 in Civil Systems Engineering under adviser Bayen at the Institute for Transportation Studies.
“I am very encouraged by the fact that the award was given for the first time to a systems engineering student who chose a non-traditional problem at the frontier of optimization, numerical analysis, cybersecurity and transportation engineering,” says Bayen, citing one of the key factors in Reilly’s recognition is his work on cybersecurity in the context of transportation, which was presented at SmartAmerica for the White House.
Reilly’s dissertation focuses on new methods for coordinated, predictive and decentralized freeway traffic control to help create connected corridors and increased traffic flow. The methods utilize specialized freeway models and real-time data sources such as loop detectors and GPS from smartphones to devise intelligent control schemes. The methods were then applied to onramp traffic metering, variable speed limits, and rerouting policies, and validated on models of real freeway systems.
Working on his doctoral degree, Reilly took full advantage of the range of projects and disciplines in his department, including creating crowd-sensing platforms, measuring earthquakes with cell-phones, creating pollution maps from traffic, studying game-theory as applied to freeway route-choices, and developing novel traffic routing engines.
“I don't think I could have run into so many cross-disciplinary fields with direct impact on the field of Civil Engineering at any other school,” says Reilly, a student of the still young Civil Systems program in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. Reilly also worked with the FORCES (Foundations Of Resilient CybEr-physical Systems) program, led by Dean Shankar Sastry and funded by the National Science Foundation.
In addition, Reilly was able, and encouraged, to implement his theory on large, real-world systems as a part of his program. Reilly tested iPhones to measure earthquakes, and helped develop an iPhone app for the AppStore, which records accelerometer data from participants and broadcasts their measurements back to a central server for aggregation. His control algorithms were fully implemented within the Connected Corridors system at the Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology, which will be used during a field-test pilot on a real freeway in California.
“Knowing that your research has real-world impact gives much more weight and longevity to your work,” says Reilly.
Beyond the academic rigors of his department, Reilly also was attracted to the innovative approaches the Civil Systems department was using at Cal.
“The work conducted by all the professors and students in the program was exciting, like using phones to measure traffic, wireless sensor networks in the Sierras and UAV's to monitor civil infrastructure,” says Reilly. “I wanted to participate in this eco-system.”
Reilly was recognized at the CUTC awards banquet in January 2015 during the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. and awarded a $2,000 check. He currently works at Google in the Maps data group.