Sustainable Transportation Abroad

Students in Kari Watkins' 2017 Sustainable Transportation Abroad class ride bicycles in the kind of bike lanes that permeate the Netherlands. The class spent nearly two weeks riding across the country and exploring the Dutch approach to transportation. (Photo: Anna Nord)
The first Sustainable Transportation Abroad class spent nearly two weeks traveling throughout the Netherlands in 2016 — mostly by bicycle — studying the country's transportation systems, including how infrastructure is designed to give cyclists priority, the integration of public transit and biking infrastructure, and suburban transportation design. The trip included seven students, two teaching assistants, Assistant Professor Kari Watkins, and three transportation professionals from the City of Atlanta and the Georgia Department of Transportation. (Photo: Sustainable Transportation Abroad class)
Teaching assistant Alice Grossman leads a group of School of Civil and Environmental Engineering students along a bike trail in the suburban area of Leidschenveen-Ypenburg in May 2016. (Photo: Sustainable Transportation Abroad class)
Multistory bicycle parking at a transit station in Amsterdam.

What does it mean to build a sustainable transportation system?

Each year, Kari Watkins takes a small group of students to the Netherlands to explore that question by experiencing the Dutch example. We'll meet with local officials to understand the decisions that leaders — and the Dutch culture more broadly — have made in building a transportation network based on mass transit and bicycling. Together, we'll bike across the country, pedaling miles everyday to understand why the system works and how it's different from Atlanta and the United States. If you've never biked other than recreationally, this trip will open your eyes to a new way of doing things. And if you've used a bicycle as a mode of transportation, this class will show you a world of possibilities you may never have experienced.

This course is part of the grand challenges electives offered through the Global Engineering Leadership Minor.

CEE 4803 - Sustainable Transportation Abroad
Dr. Kari E. Watkins
3 Credit Hours

In this course, we will learn about the planning, design, and operations of transportation systems in countries abroad that are known for a sustainable multimodal approach to transportation. This course is a study abroad course tied to the Global Engineering Leadership Minor administered in Civil and Environmental Engineering. The course will focus on how culture drives technological innovation and the role of mentoring in professional development.

This trip will focus on the Netherlands, a country where substantial efforts have been made to encourage cycling and transit usage by residents of all ages and cycling levels of comfort. The Dutch consider cycling more sustainable because of the reduction in space required, low emissions and noise, and health impacts. Dutch infrastructure provides good examples of protected bicycle infrastructure, traffic calming, transit network design, and transit and bicycle integration.

Ride along on the 2018 trip:

Ride along on the 2017 trip:

Sustainable Transportation Abroad News

Students from the International Disaster Reconnaissance Studies course walk through ruined buildings in Old Beichuan, China. The city has been left as a memorial to those killed when it was rocked by the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in central China. The site was one of the places students visited in China and Japan over Spring Break as they considered the impact of disasters and how communities rebuilt. (Photo Courtesy: Lynnae Luettich and Katie Popp)
Spring Break travelers reflect on disaster recovery, a different approach to transportation, and water quality challenges after week abroad

For several dozen School of Civil and Environmental Engineering students, Spring Break was a packed week of mind- and perspective-stretching experiences in South America, Europe and Asia. The students worked and explored alongside professors and graduate students as part of three classes affiliated with Tech’s global engineering leadership minor.

Andrew Pofahl explains to judges some of the design ideas his Delft Blauw Design team proposed for Ted Turner Drive in downtown Atlanta. Two teams of Georgia Tech students offered redesigns of the road for the Ted Turner Drive Resiliency Corridor Challenge. Delft Blauw Designs won second place in the competition. (Photo: Joshua Stewart)
Students offer Dutch-inspired ideas to turn Ted Turner Drive into a resilient gateway to downtown Atlanta

In a few years, Ted Turner Drive in downtown Atlanta may well owe some of its reimagined design to a School of Civil and Environmental Engineering class trip to the Netherlands.

Students collect samples along the Choqueyapu River in La Paz, Bolivia, over spring break. They were one of three classes that traveled to three different continents this year. (Photo Courtesy: Joe Brown)
40 students, 3 continents, 9 days. Experience engineering classes' spring break abroad in the travelers' own words and pictures

Dozens of CEEatGT students spent their Spring Break traveling to three very different parts of the globe to experience sustainable transportation in the Netherlands, learn about disaster recovery and resilience in China, and understand urban water quality in Bolivia. Share their journey through the pictures and words they sent back from abroad.

The sunrise from the top of Mt. Fuji in Japan in August 2016. Students in the International Disaster Reconnaissance Studies class that semester hiked all night to reach the top of the mountain in time for this view. (Photo: Kieron McCarthy)
Spring Break travel gives students chance to make impact, see their subject come alive

The School of Civil and Environmental Engineering will send dozens of students to four continents during Spring Break, giving them a chance to make a difference in the communities they visit and experience the reality of the engineering they have been studying.

Students in Kari Watkins' Sustainable Transportation Abroad class ride bicycles in the kind of bike lanes that permeate the Netherlands. The class spent nearly two weeks riding across the country and exploring the Dutch approach to transportation. (Photo: Anna Nord)
From London to Amsterdam: Summer study abroad takes students to experience what they’re learning about

There’s really nothing quite like being there. Two groups of students from the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering learned that first hand this summer as they traveled to London and the Netherlands to explore in real life the concepts and ideas they studied in the classroom.

The Sustainable Transportation Abroad class outside the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
Class bikes through the Netherlands to study sustainable transportation

A group of Georgia Tech students has just returned from two weeks studying bicycle infrastructure in the Netherlands and contrasting the Dutch approach to American standards. The overwhelming consensus: it’s not just bicycles that define the Dutch transportation system. Rather, it's the integration of biking with all forms of public transit and infrastructure planning that makes the Netherlands’ famed bike culture a way of life.