Maura Healey Visits UMass Transportation Center and Human Performance Lab


Attorney General Maura Healey visited the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Thursday, October 13, and spent part of the day learning about research at the UMass Transportation Center. Healey was joined by state auditor candidate Diana DiZoglio, State Senator Jo Comerford, and State Representative Mindy Domb.

College of Engineering Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Affairs Dr. Michael Knodler led Healey on a tour of the Transportation Center. He presented a piece of LiDAR technology, which creates 3D images of its surroundings and is designed to map the wheelchair accessibility of sidewalks. Dr. Chengbo Ai, assistant professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who developed this technology through the support of a state-funded innovation grant, gathered Healey and a team of graduate students for a 3D group photo. Healey commented afterwards that the next governor must "support the funding" of these engineering projects.

The Transportation Center works with state, federal, and industrial agencies to promote research and education, and currently conducts research in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the Baystate Roads Program, the Massachusetts Technical Assistance Program, and the United States Department of Transportation's University Transportation Center Initiative, among others.

Next, Healey went for a ride in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering’s Human Performance Lab, where researchers have developed a stationary vehicle to simulate the hazards of unsafe driving patterns.

The Human Performance Lab focuses on younger drivers, older drivers, driver training programs, roadway design, and the impact of increasingly autonomous vehicles. The lab makes use of driving simulators, virtual reality headsets, eye trackers, physiological monitoring equipment, and more while conducting its cutting-edge research.