University Receives $1.5 Million Grant to Improve Fog Prediction

Feb 21, 2017

LAKELAND, Fla. – Florida Polytechnic University Professor Dr. Christina Drake has received a $1.5 million grant from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to study new methods of predicting fog on Florida roadways, helping forecasters better alert travelers of dangerous weather conditions.

Florida Poly will work with PraxSoft, an information technology and engineering company based in Orlando, to refine, develop and deploy new monitoring software. In addition, Florida Poly will establish testing sites in Central and Southern Florida to improve the current weather model and help provide advanced warnings of road conditions that can cause traffic congestion.

“Transportation challenges are among the most pressing in Florida as our population grows and becomes more mobile. Advancing transportation technology – including systems for predicting and monitoring roadway conditions — will ultimately make travel safer, easier and more efficient for everyone,” said Florida Poly President Dr. Randy K. Avent. “This is exactly the type of applied research for near-term impact we aim to pursue at Florida Poly.”

Florida Poly and Praxsoft have already begun working on this project, and the team will make recommendations to FDOT for new technologies and testing methods over the coming months.

Alongside Dr. Drake on this project are Associate Professor of Nanotechnology and Multifunctional Materials Dr. Christopher Coughlin and Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering Dr. Harish Chintakunta. The grant will employ undergraduate students as research associates, and establish new data collection, analysis and engineering methods.

“This project will have an impact throughout Florida and beyond as we research sensor systems for roadway safety conditions that affect a huge number people every year,” said Dr. Drake, Florida Poly Assistant Professor of Electrical, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering. “In addition, having Florida Poly students participate in real-world studies like this will not only enhance our current efforts, but also prepare them to be lifelong innovators and problem-solvers, ready to take on the challenges of tomorrow.”

“We are impressed with the wide pool of talent at Florida Poly,” said FDOT Project Manager Fred Heery, Sr., P.E. “Fog can be a major issue on Florida’s roadways, and we’ve seen several major accidents over the past decade related to intense fog conditions. The purpose of this study is to improve traffic management, but more importantly to help improve the safety of Florida travelers.”

This grant is representative of Florida Poly’s commitment to engaging students and faculty in real-world problems, said Florida Poly Provost Dr. Terry Parker.

“We believe strongly in applied research and embedding real-world problems into our curriculum. This grant will positively impact both the public’s safety and students’ understanding of how to harness science for the public good,” Parker said.