By Jimmy Mai, MSCE ‘17
After months of anticipation and planning, USC hosted the ITE Southern California Student Chapter Traffic Bowl 2017 on February 25th. The Traffic Bowl is a “Jeopardy”-style competition that tests participating students’ knowledge of transportation planning and engineering topics. Participating schools included USC, UCLA, UC Irvine, CSU - Fullerton, Cal Poly – Pomona, and CSU – Long Beach. Each school sent three of its best and brightest students to compete. Three teams compete for the top spot for two rounds. The winner of each round would meet in the final round to compete for the ultimate Traffic Bowl trophy – a glass bowl with cars and buses glued on the inside. First place was awarded to the team from USC. As a USC student and soon to be alumnus, I ask for your understanding as I write an enthusiastic recount of the competition which might reveal my school pride and perhaps, just perhaps, a slight bit of inclination.
The winner’s trophy. (Photo by Eric Shen)
In last year’s Traffic Bowl hosted by CSU – Long Beach, the USC team fought hard to achieve 3rd place. USC ITE Chapter President Griffin Kantz, utilizing his experience from the last competition, set out to bring home the trophy this year. Joining him to form the team were two transportation planning students from the Price School of Public Policy, Axel Hellman and Sunghea Khil. By answering most of the planning questions in the first round against CSU – Fullerton and CSU – Long Beach, the USC team was in the lead before the final jeopardy question. Knowing the correct answers to the final question about ITE District information, the USC team strategically beat CSUF by one point to win the first round.
The second round was more dramatic. UCLA began with an early lead as UCI and Cal Poly Pomona were penalized for wrong answers. But soon enough, all three teams found their bearings and began answering questions correctly. Before the final jeopardy questions, the three teams were closely ranked at around 1,000 points each. The final jeopardy session of traffic bowl is an intense match of knowledge, luck, and strategy. The question proved to be too hard for all three teams. However, UCLA made the smallest wager, losing the least points, and won this round.
The competition came to a final showdown of the cross-town rivalry between USC and UCLA. With a home-court advantage, the USC team came through and claimed the trophy. Yilin Zhang (MPL, 2018) volunteered to assist with the event and described the Traffic Bowl as “a great competition that encouraged students to network with their peers from other schools while reinforcing their fundamental transportation knowledge.”
Photo by Eric Shen
Jimmy Mai is a second-year MSCE – Transportation Engineering student at USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering. He is the Vice President of the USC ITE Student Chapter. Mai aspires to be a professional engineer that addresses transportation issues with practical solutions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.