UCLA

100 Ways: Space

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Published May 15, 2019 11:35 AM


Moving Target

Transportation Research

In the capital of car culture, UCLA has been a leader in solving a congested city’s complex transportation problems. As early as 1925, UCLA researchers resolved to tackle the alarming new problems of street accidents and congestion. “Some of the very earliest work in traffic engineering, in designing streets to accommodate the newfangled automobile, actually took place at UCLA,” says Martin Wachs, distinguished professor emeritus of urban planning at the Luskin School of Public Affairs. “When you see ancient film of cars crashing into barriers with dummies moving forward on impact, some of that was done in the School of Engineering.”

Juan Matute M.A./M.B.A. ’09, deputy director at the Institute of Transportation Studies, looks at how employers can incentivize employees to find driving alternatives — for example, by pairing public transit with on-demand car services like Lyft.

UCLA engineers are also examining how emerging technologies will blend into cities and transportation networks. Sam Coogan, an electrical engineering assistant professor, has worked with Caltrans to explore traffic-sensing devices to predict traffic patterns and control congestion.


Rendering of transportation possible in the future.

Meanwhile, Ankur Mehta, an assistant professor of electrical engineering, has modeled the potential impact of mixed autonomy in urban settings. Mehta suggests that L.A. could have a fleet of autonomous vehicles deployed to break up congestion or regulate traffic.

Wachs says, “A hallmark of transportation work at UCLA over the decades, including going back to the ’40s and ’50s, is work that has practical application.” And that tradition lives on today. UCLA continues to examine challenges that arise with each new form of getting around, such as electric scooters.


A Better World, One Story at a Time

The Skoll Center for Social Impact Entertainment

Jeffery Skoll, the first full-time employee and first president of eBay and founder of Participant Media, has spent decades using storytelling to make a better world. What better partner for him, then, than the storytelling school: UCLA’s School of Theater, Film & Television (TFT), now home of the Skoll Center for Social Impact Entertainment?

The center is the first of its kind dedicated solely to advancing the power of entertainment and performing arts to inspire social change. When it launched in 2014, Skoll said, “I founded Participant Media in the belief that a story well told has the power to ignite positive social change. This new center is an extension of that vision, with the goal of empowering a new generation and elevating storytelling as a tool to create impact and empower people to connect to the social issues that can have a profound impact on our world.”

The center produces the State of Social Impact Entertainment, a report that maps the landscape of social impact entertainment, examines frameworks for measurement, establishes best practices, highlights key issues and corroborates generally accepted impact principles. Education efforts include a graduate-level Participant Media fellowship and, with a grant from the center, ENGAGE LA, in which TFT seniors created interactive media works on such subjects as housing, immigration, the environment and education.

There’s also a new degree program for social impact entertainment and the Center for Storytelling,Technology and Innovation, a global center dedicated to research excellence at the intersection of story, performance and technology — all designed to deliver stories that don’t just move the audience, but also change the world.

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