Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)
December 19, 2012
Good afternoon or good morning to those of you to the West. Welcome to the Talking Freight Seminar Series. My name is Nicholas Kehoe and I will moderate today's seminar. Today's topic is on the Freight Academy Capstone Projects.
Before I go any further, I do want to let those of you who are calling into the teleconference for the audio know that you need to mute your computer speakers or else you will be hearing your audio over the computer as well.
Today we will have three presenters: Marygrace Parker with the I-95 Corridor Coalition, Kristine O'Connor with the North Carolina DOT, and Deborah Bowden with the Maryland DOT
Marygrace M. Parker serves as the Freight Mobility, Safety and Security and Program Coordinator for the I-95 Corridor Coalition, an alliance of transportation and related agencies in the 16 states spanning from Maine to Florida. Mrs. Parker serves as the Project Manager for the Freight Academy program and has overseen the development of the Academy concept and delivery of all three of the highly acclaimed Freight Academy sessions which now count 90 graduates from across the Coalition and nationally who are applying their immersion experience to facilitate safe, efficient, and seamless Freight transportation.
Kristine O'Connor graduated from Clemson University in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biosystems Engineering and is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of North Carolina. She has over 9 years of experience in the civil engineering field, including 8 years of state government transportation experience between the North and South Carolina Departments of Transportation. She is currently a Project Executive with NCDOT's Priority Projects Office.
Deborah Bowden is the Motor Carrier and Logistics Policy Advisor with Maryland Department of Transportation's Office of Freight and Multimodalism. In this capacity, she is the resource consultant on trucking issues. She is an advocate for supply chain partners, both the carriers and shippers, with a focus on establishing efficient and sustainable freight systems and operations. She also leads efforts to implement the performance measures and policy recommendations from the Maryland Statewide Freight Plan. Before Debbie came to state government, she worked in private industry as a trainer and consultant to trucking companies and held logistics positions in manufacturing and food production.
Today's seminar will last 90 minutes, with 60 minutes allocated for the speaker, and the final 30 minutes for audience Question and Answer. If during the presentations you think of a question, you can type it into the chat area. Please make sure you send your question to "Everyone" The presenters will be unable to answer your questions during their presentations, but I will start off the question and answer session with the questions typed into the chat box. If we run out of time and are unable to address all questions we will attempt to get written responses from the presenters to the unanswered questions.
The PowerPoint presentation used during the seminar is available for download from the file download box in the lower right corner of your screen. The presentation will also be available online within the next few weeks, along with a recording and a transcript. I will notify all attendees once these materials are posted online.
One final note: Talking Freight seminars are eligible for 1.5 certification maintenance credits for AICP members. In order to obtain credit for today's seminar, you must have logged in with your first and last name or if you are attending with a group of people you must type your first and last name into the chat box. I have included more detailed instructions in the file share box on how to obtain your credits after the seminar. Please also download the evaluation form from the file share box and submit this form to me after you have filled it out. While FHWA does not formally offer the professional development hour credits and will not provide proof of attendance, we have made an agenda available in the file download box that participants can use to self-certify and submit for credits on their own.
We're now going to go ahead and get started. Today's topic, for those of you who just joined us, is on Freight Academy Capstone Projects. As a reminder, if you have questions during the presentation please type them into the chat box and they will be answered in the last 30 minutes of the seminar. Our first presenter will be Marygrace Parker of the I-95 Corridor Coalition, and Marygrace, when you are ready you may begin.
Thank you. We are very pleased to be here today to talk about the Freight Academy Capstone project concept and show you how it is used as an instructional tool for the Freight Academy. Also, today we will discuss how to prepare attendees for a real-world application. We'd like to present this in three segments today. I will be providing an overview of the Freight Academy and a capstone project to provide context that will be followed by Kristine's presentation of the port access project. This is a hypothetical exercise when Kristine presents this, but you will see that relationship to real world issues. Deborah will follow-up speaking about her experiences with the capstone project and how a capstone project has been applied to real-world experiences in her position.
To give you context about the Freight Academy, in the last number of years there have been large increases in freight movement. The goods moving industry is dynamic that is changing all the time. It is critical that the public sector staff focus and understand freight as a part of the transportation industry. There is a need to align public-sector freight policies and operations with the community goals. From our coalition standpoint, we learned over the years there is a need to encourage and facilitate cross-jurisdictional collaboration and networking within the region and nationally. This becomes critical as we see a change in staff through attrition and retirement of senior level staff. It creates a need to train the middle level staff. The concept of the Freight Academy is to provide a unique hands-on educational experience and to promote freight movement as a single integrated system. We look to link professional development and agency development so graduates become more understanding of freight as an overall concept and can bring that into their own position and move that forward within the agency. Our goal is to build upon existing programs and complement them, such as the Federal Highway Administration professional development program and other programs within AASHTO and including the university community to add to the suite of available opportunities so not only in the private sector but primary for our focus on the public-sector side, we built a robust and knowledgeable transportation staff. We look to educate people in the most recent technological and industry trends to establish the recognition of the common terminology and ongoing dialogue about freight. Our key is to involve private-sector freight executives and instruction to create interaction and understanding of industry perspective. Our program is very driven by heavily private-sector speakers and tours. To build peer relationships across agencies and jurisdictions, we begin by building within the Academy concept. The Academy classes represent a broad geographical area of people from different agencies at different levels and as a result, they collaborate and talk across common lines and many of those relationships last long after the participant completes the academy.
As I mentioned, we are building on established concepts methods for training. Well we look at building the program, there were outstanding activities going on such as University of Denver that included work with capstone projects, a number of executive programs that are in the public-sector world again as well as professional development courses. Our goal is to add value to the work people are doing and to provide opportunity to increase knowledge and interaction with peers.
Our program is an immersion program. That is what sets up that the group to be able to educate their agencies and apply work including capstone project. We start before the Academy by providing an assignment of pre- reading materials. We ask them to develop a freight profile of the region and ask them and focus scholarships and selection on having a core Federal Highway professional development course, particularly looking at the course Integrating Freight into the Planning Process. Our program is an immersion program and does not mimic a university setting or workshop. It is a six day intense immersion program. They arrive on a Sunday, by midday Sunday they are beginning a week that goes through Friday covering shippers, freight system customers, all elements involved in goods movement. It is a combination of classroom instructors, lectures, and presentations and discussions led by private sector organizational staff. It includes a series of field visits with on-site briefings complementing earlier instructors following up on their presentations or following up on a particular freight concept and a field visit to a site that gives an example of those concepts and supply chain activity in action. Finally, what you will hear about today, a capstone project that will be complete.
I want to show you quickly, this is a calendar of the week. Even the evenings are made up of dinners with speakers. Throughout the week, all 30 of the participants move quickly through a very fast-paced agenda and the intention is to mirror the freight world where decisions are made quickly and in a rapid way. As an example, we've had expanding experience and great work by one of our Academy staff who is very active. We hold these in New Jersey. They provide outstanding classroom facility and as a result we are able to dig deeply into that robust and unique distribution warehousing supply chain world that exists in the New Jersey area. You can see some of the private sector partners we've had over the years that have provided field visits places like Macy's, FedEx, auto processing terminals, refrigeration companies and major names like Hyundai and Coca-Cola.
For our lecture series we will bring in people from the public-sector to talk about a unique experience. This includes freight best practices and lessons learned. Predominately our instructors are private sector instructors coming from the world of rail, maritime, people involved in launching short sea exercises, we have had all types of executives at all levels. Our speakers are selected in part not only to provide a concept, but to help promote interest and dialogue. We give our participants an opportunity to enjoy ample time for questions and answers. As we set up a capstone project, you will see it started earlier in the week so they can keep some of the questions thinking about their projects. The project itself is meant to emulate best practices. The program we identified we have expanded our experience with situations likely to arise while managing freight in a public organization, looking to gain public and private sector perspective. A key part of this project is to help build team and leadership skills to allow the capstone project participants to take the information they bring to the Academy as well as what they hear during the week to provide them in a team environment and as you will hear from how some of the groups construct through various components, each one of them gets exercised leadership skills in execution of the project.
Our approach is to provide hypothetical problem statements. We did toy with the idea of using real-world examples but because we are geographically diverse. We recognize that to deal with real-world issues lends a number of problems from pragmatic to political process, and these things may not be proper or workable in this type of situation, so instead, we pick topical areas and look up five or six key areas. We looked at things like freight bottlenecks, port access, environmental sustainability, and we create a hypothetical problem statement that we provide when the group attendees are allowed indicate their top three choices on problem statements. We use this as a means of assigning participants to project teams. They don't always get the one they want because lots of times with a geographical basis because we do try to bring a diverse group of people together not from the same agencies, or not all metropolitan planning organizations or Department of Transportations. We want to have people from very different areas because we think that enhances the experience. They are broken into teams of five to seven and they participate on project during and after the immersion face of the Academy. Executive mentor panels at the end they return once the Academy is completed with the project capstone outlined, they come back with an outline and go back and re- facilitate over the next number of months opportunities for us to host conference calls and webinars for them and they work under different pieces and pull it together. That culminates in end in an executive mentor session where senior executives throughout our three academies. We have top-notch people in transportation who have offered to serve as mentors. These mentors receive the papers, they take and review them and provide feedback to the group in two ways. During the mentor panel it is a 90 minute to two-hour timeframe, the group presents the project, the executives have read the paper the first time they see the PowerPoint summary is in this call. They literally role-play as the executives or senior executives ask questions as if they are being presented in a real-world setting. Once that is completed we will do a second go round and the mentors will act as mentors and critique and provide suggestions, thoughts, comments. It gives the group an opportunity to hear how well they have applied this.
We use the Freight Academy website before during and after the Academy as a way to provide information on the program, upcoming academies and upon completion of the capstones. We put those on the website so they are out there as hypothetical examples so that people can see how the graduates apply the studies. We've learned that many times as executives are being asked to send people to the Freight Academy, I've heard back in many occasions that they have gone to the website and looked and seen not only the information that the outputs and solidified both executives and agencies and other organizations that supported the Academy to continue. We are building on the capstone work, looking to make this a resource area for Freight Academy graduates. Complementing building works that already been done by the Federal Highway Administration and others.
I wanted to leave you with a representation of the Freight Academy program in terms of our graduates. You can see multiple agencies whether they've been County, city, district level, Federal Highway, Department of Transportations, port authorities, transportation authorities, toll agencies, you can name any type of transportation agency, they have had someone that represents that type out of these 90 graduates. They are geographically diverse and the graduates will tell you they build a network they continue to go to at times and bounce off questions and we are pleased as you look to the north you can see a coalition and affiliates in the provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick and we have been lucky to have attendees at the Academy and provided multinational cross-border perspective to our Academy and to the robustness of the capstone project work. With that, I will turn this back to Nick.
Thank you. We will now move into our second presenter, Kristine O'Connor. Kristine, when you are ready, you can begin.
As a recent graduate, I would like to share with you a little bit about my experience, what it entailed, how my team undertook the assignment, the results, and what I learned from it. Being from North Carolina, where we recently completed a comprehensive maritime strategy study for our two ports, I was eager to participate in the port access capstone project. Not only did I have real-world experience in this area, but my goal was to learn as much as possible about port access and expansion so I could be of greater benefit to my agency when I got back. According to the statement, my team was tasked with studying the possibility for growth in the associated access issues at a fictional port in preparation with the ongoing expansion of the Panama Canal, which is anticipated to be completed in 2015. We were also asked to determine the role the state could play in bringing more cargo, and consequently more jobs and economic activity, to the port.
Due to the foresight of our leaders, our team was highly diverse both geographically and in the nature of our fields of expertise. Team members had wide-ranging experience in a variety of transportation fields including freight, rail, ports, transportation planning, and overall project management skills. Our team members hail from all corners of the United States - from the Pacific Northwest, the Southeast and the Northeast. We even had one member that came from Canada, which enabled us to have an international perspective on the project as well. Given the limited timeframe we were able to spend working on this product in person during the Freight Academy, our first order of business was to identify the process by which we would work through the problem. Exercising some creative license, we began with defining the port background and context. Getting initial assumptions regarding port size, location and operations out of the way enabled us to easily move forward with solving the problem. We identified the key strategic areas we wanted to focus on in order to address the issue of expansion and access. In order to make the remote teamwork a success, we assigned each focus area to an individual team member, or pair of team members, depending on the nature of the workload. We worked independently from our respective locations and coordinated by conference call or e-mail. After the initial research was completed, we participated in conference calls to more fully define our strategies.
In order to simplify our project and reduce the number of assumptions we were going to have to make, we modeled our "Port of Capstone Bay" very closely on the Port of Charleston in South Carolina. To give you a little background, the Port of Capstone Bay is in an urban area with a population over 630,000 in the mid-Atlantic region of the East Coast. This area is one of the state's most vital resources, with the port generating nearly $45 billion a year and hundreds of thousands of jobs. As I mentioned, with the expansion of the Panama Canal expect to be complete by 2015, which could lead to a potential cargo shift anywhere from 20 to 30 percent from West Coast to East Coast ports, new opportunities for growth are emerging for the Port of Capstone Bay. The Port of Capstone Bay has 5 public marine terminals that are equipped to handle a variety of operations, including containers, cargo, oversize, overweight, and railroad operations. A new cruise ship terminal is under construction and is anticipated to be complete by 2014. Three terminals support container traffic and have a combined 21 cranes, 16 of which are post-Panamax in size. This port handles a diverse range of commodities, including agricultural products, consumer goods, machinery, iron, steel, vehicles, salt, paper and clay products, stone, cement, and petroleum coke.
To give you more background on the port, for imports and exports, North Europe and Asia are the port's top markets, combining for 55% of total volume and serving over 100 nations. More than 20 carriers have vessels that carry cargo from Capstone Bay to over a 150 nations worldwide. The top imported commodities include furniture, fabrics, auto parts, sheets, towels, blankets, fabrics such as raw cotton, truck tires, general cargo, apparel, paper, and household goods. Top exported commodities include paper products, wood pulp, auto parts, logs and lumber, fabrics such as raw cotton, general cargo, synthetic resins, mixed metal scrap, chemicals and poultry. The overall handling capacity of all5 terminals is currently at 85 percent of maximum. Right now, the harbor maintains a depth of 45 feet at mean low tide and 47 feet at the entrance channel. A five to six foot tidal lift provides deeper access during some parts of the day. The Columbus Street terminal has no air draft limitations currently, while the relatively new Ravenel Bridge, which provides access to the Wando Welch & new cruise ship terminals, does allow 186 feet of vertical clearance at mean high water. However, ships sailing to the North Charleston terminal must travel underneath the Don Holt Bridge, which only offers 150 feet of available air draft.
In terms of highway connections, the primary interstate artery into and out of Capstone Bay is Interstate 26. Interstates 95, 77, 20, 85 and 40 are all directly linked to Capstone Bay via I-26. Rail access is another important element, and both CSX and Norfolk Southern operate large, well-equipped rail yards within the port. Intermodal service is available at the Wando Welch Terminal via direct dray to the railhead, while dockside rail service is available at the Columbus Street, Union Pier, and North Charleston Terminals. There are exceptionally high and wide rail clearances that allow for double stack trains, and both Norfolk Southern and CSX offer daily container express services to key cities in the South, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. Connections to points beyond are available with both lines. In terms of warehouses and cargo service providers, the State Port Authority is supported by a well-equipped, local warehousing community. Private firms facilitate the movement of imports and exports to and from the port facilities for companies that ship or receive raw materials, components parts, and products. These firms provide freight forwarding, shipping and customs brokering. You can see, taking the initiative to base our port on an existing port helped us to minimize the number of assumptions we had to make and helped us maximize the time we had together and when we were farther apart trying to meet deadlines.
In order to focus our efforts, we identified three key strategic areas and the corresponding trends that would enable us to best address the issues of port expansion and access. These include: port productivity, which entails modifying port operations in order to improve productivity and access; harbor improvements, which enable us to enhance our port's waterside access; and improving multimodal connections, which would enhance landside access. For each of these strategies, we performed an analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges associated with each one, and then identified any potential environmental benefits and challenges as well.
In the case of port productivity, our team proposed three key strategies to improve productivity and access, including: extending business hours, implementing a gate appointment system, and truck stop electrification. Of the three proposed strategies, our team determined that only the implementation of extended business hours and a gate appointment system be recommended since they can effectively improve terminal access, reduce congestion and increase port velocity with a low amount of infrastructure investment. Given the scarcity of available space for port expansion, since 85% of our port is currently developed, these strategies provided a cost effective way for us to enhance port throughput and capacity. Our team also recommended proposed plans for implementing these strategies. For instance, implementing extended business hours would require collaboration between all stakeholders. The stakeholders would need to be fully engaged and further feasibility analysis would be required in order to fully evaluate the impact of an extended business hours strategy. Our team recommended four options for implementing this particular strategy: Forming an extended business our working group that includes representatives from the private and public sectors, such as the Port Authority, port terminal operators, warehouse and distribution centers, trucking companies, steamship lines, local government and the State DOT. We also recommended organizing meetings with stakeholders to discuss perspectives regarding feasibility, benefits, and obstacles, regarding the implementation of extended business hours. We also suggested evaluating the feasibility and impact of industry-driven collaborative efforts among stakeholders, as well as implementing incentives and/or fees for utilizing off-peak hours in order to implement extended business hour program. Our final recommendation was to determine the impact of extended business hours on terminal operations, determine the most effective types of fees and incentives, how these funds could be used, the impact they would have on port competitiveness, and whether or not industries will support the implementation of extended business hours.
The successful implementation of the gate appointment system requires buy-in from both terminal and trucking companies. Our team recommended the following steps to determine how effective this strategy could be in order to start on implementation. Forming a working group to include terminal operators and trucking companies that could communicate the benefits they may obtain from a truck appointment system and discussing the key obstacles and concerns of implementation. Meeting with stakeholders to discuss this topic and evaluate the benefits and costs associated with gate appointment systems, including pre- advice, conventional appointment, advanced appointment systems, and a port community system. Based on the feedback we got, we would determine which one received the most buy-in. We also suggested providing incentives to truckers, such as priority lane to those that had appointments to minimize wait time. This would enable us to get a higher participation rate. Finally, evaluating different funding mechanisms, including public-private partnerships to help pay for the projects.
The key component to successfully implementing our plans for the Port of Capstone Bay include identifying our target audiences, obtaining buy-in from the public and private sectors, and keeping stakeholders engaged throughout the process. In order to accomplish this, we investigated a variety of public engagement strategies and recommended those we felt would be successful, including charrettes, which are collaborative community brainstorming and visioning sessions, advisory councils, the use of social media tools, town hall meetings, direct mailers, and focus groups. We evaluated each option based on cost, the amount of staff required, and the difficulty of implementation, and then developed short-term, midterm, and long-term horizons for the strategies we thought would be most effective.
In the short-term, we recommended: creating an advisory council of industry stakeholders to engage specific industries and provide technical expertise, holding town hall meetings to help capture the community's vision and their concerns. We don't just want to hear what they like or don't like about it; we need to hear what their concerns are. Implementing a social media outreach campaign to help reach a wider audience and help keep people engaged throughout the process. Finally organizing and holding focus groups that would allow for direct interaction with stakeholders and extended dialogue about the issues that matter most.
For the midterm and long-term horizons, we recommended continuing to engage the public and private sectors using social media or e-mail, touching base with the advisory council members so we can stay abreast of issues and concerns, and making sure nothing is falling through the cracks. These types of informal and flexible communication methods will allow us to keep our broad audience engaged throughout the process and enable us to be responsive to the evolving needs of the community and key industries.
In retrospect, this experience ended up being invaluable not only because of the technical knowledge I gained during the research and development process, but also for the ways in which it broadened and enriched my horizons, both personally and professionally. I have been able to refresh my critical thinking skills and apply them to situations I face daily, and developed a network of contacts that I can turn to when I come across a new question or problem. All in all, this experience has been one of the most enriching opportunities I have been a part of. Now I will turn it back to Nick.
Thank you Kristine. Our final presenter will be Debbie Bowden from the Maryland Department of Transportation. Debbie, when you are ready, you may begin.
Hello everyone. I am Deborah Bowden at the Maryland Department of Transportation and to give you background, I attended the first Freight Academy in 2008. It was a fantastic experience as Marygrace and Kristine have both said, we had an opportunity to see real-world experiences and hear from the private sector. For our capstone project we were tasked with a term not many people at the time knew or understood and that is a freight resiliency. We were to develop a plan for addressing the infrastructure needs and longer-term policies that would reduce opportunities for a major disruption in service due to weather or other events.
As we started our capstone work, our team was comprised of a variety of disciplines from different agencies as Kristine has talked about. We had two folks from the state Departments of Transportation, one participant from the city department of transportation, another from a regional Transportation Authority, one from a port authority and someone represented from a metropolitan planning organization. As we started the capstone work during the Freight Academy, we were all approaching this idea of freight resiliency and what that meant from the focal point of our different experiences and the work we did and also from the different sized agencies and different concentrations that our agencies provide. We were fortunate that everyone was located within the Northeast, so we had that commonality. We did not have to work through understanding how it's a bit different perhaps in the Midwest for freight resiliency versus along the coast. But we did have to work through some of the needs and opportunities in developing our capstone. I am sharing this with you and we will bring them back to relate how it has worked for the real-world.
One of the needs we had to overcome was an unfamiliar topic. As I said in 2008, freight resiliency was a term not many people recognized outside of rescue and recovery or emergency management. Our group, we worked together based on what we learned at the Freight Academy and what we each brought from our own disciplines. We developed an idea of freight resiliency for this project. Much as Kristine related in her hypothetical presentation on her capstone project, we had to define it. One of the things we found in the Freight Academy was the use of language. For those of you who work all the time on the highway side for freight, you know a truck can be called a motor carrier or a commercial motor vehicle. It may weigh 10,000 or more pounds or it may have two or more axles. In our project, we needed to define what did freight resiliency means and that helped us focus what we were going to report on and how we would do our research. That discussion took some time because we did have approaches from varying disciplines. We had planners, I am in the policy office, and we had folks who deal with operations. The needs and opportunity we have in developing our capstone was for each of us to bring our own expertise and develop that commonality. What does freight resiliency mean from an operations standpoint? What does it mean from a policy standpoint and from a planning standpoint?
In developing the framework for our capstone project, and Kristine talked about this, we needed to use an imaginative way of setting aside, getting through some of the assumptions that could trip us up. Where were we going to focus on? Were we going to have a plan or an operations manual? To be honest, we took a little bit of time getting through that and working through that. However, that was so valuable for all of us to be able to say, we're not just talking about freight and resiliency, we are talking about resiliency in the transportation system and developing a fictional project with a few assumptive guidelines and how do we work through that? In the process of developing our project, and in developing a capstone project or any kind of exercise like this, we had to learn to get through these things. Once we got over some assumptions and applied some fictionalization to the process, we jumped miles ahead. The other opportunity and need we had to work through was anytime you have something like this that is not a priority for your agency, one needs to learn how to balance that with the normal workflow and scheduling you have. I went through this myself as a policy person. I recognize for operations work needs that are immediate. You have a system shutdown and you need to respond quickly. On the policy side, my work isn't that immediate however while I was working on the project, we went into a four-month legislative session so I needed to respond quickly to requests from officials. There was a balance of that and how do I heed a deadline that a team has put together to develop a capstone versus the deadline for an elected official wanting information on freight. It was the balancing of working with the capstone and work and demands of my superiors sometimes caused me to have a little bit of anxiety but we worked through it. That goes to the last point because we as a team really came together and we were able to break the 80/20 rule. It's understood that 20 percent of any size group does 80 percent of the work. I'm happy to say our team did not do that. Everyone really pulled together to do a balanced effort to complete the capstone project and that is important. That points to any kind of project in the real-world. You need to be aware if you are a project manager or team leader; you need to be aware and engage all the members of your team so those 20 percent do not have to do 80 percent of the work.
That was some of the needs and opportunities in developing the process of how we would do the project on freight resiliency. Some of the scheduling conflicts we had and workflow conflicts we had. As I said, we achieved a lot. We worked together as a team and I think that says a lot for the team members. We were from different agencies, we were in the same time zone, that was good, but we were at different levels of responsibility and each of us pitched in and provided a cohesive and collaborative effort to get our capstone project done. One of the things I found that was really good was that I was able to apply lessons from the Freight Academy. I do have private-sector freight experience, but nothing could have prepared me for what I was able to learn at the Freight Academy. To take that one step further, not only on the academic side of hearing from the private sector and from the executives at the transportation departments and economic development department but to apply it to the capstone that was very valuable. It also provided a system of doing that in a safe way. I was doing a project, part of a team, I was doing research in putting together documents for a very important topics, but at the end of the day, if I did not quite get it right, I had an opportunity for a panel of mentors to look at it and say this is not how freight resiliency should be handled on a highway system. I could learn from that process. Being able to take it from an academic standpoint at the Freight Academy and doing the application in a safe manner was highly valuable. The other thing I personally was able to achieve was to be able to get the cross awareness from varying disciplines. To hear the operations side, to hear the planning side, to understand of how city department of transportation looks at freight resiliency different than my own State Department, and an MPO versus a port authority. That was valuable and I have been able to use outside of the Freight Academy work in my own work as I've been working toward developing freight policy for the state of Maryland. For me, it helped to strengthen project organizational and management skills. You've got different types of people, different objectives, bringing that altogether with this common goal of having a capstone project on freight resiliency to put before a panel of mentors, that guided me to be able to look at how to organize the process and try some things out and recognize things that did not work, things that did work and apply what worked since then in the work I do for Maryland.
To recap, the capstone project benefits are many. I want to reiterate the safety part of it. The fact that it is fictional gives you flexibility and gives you the ability to make some assumptions. It also gives the ability to change course if something is not working. When we first started, we discovered the framework of our presentation, how we were approaching the presentation itself, we were looking at the end and going back, that probably was not going to work. The team recognized it was going to be so overwhelming that we were setting ourselves up to not have success. Another capstone project benefit is it allows you the flexibility to change course so you can get out of the process what you want to put into it. Instead of spending a lot of time worrying about how we were going to make this grand presentation, we pulled back and simplified it and were able to learn more about freight resiliency instead of learning about how to make a big bold flashy presentation.
Success depends on teamwork. I can't say that enough. To give an example of how I have been able to apply that outside of the Freight Academy. I am in Maryland and that's very close to Delaware. We share a peninsula. In working with folks from the Delaware Department of Transportation, the Delaware Economic Development Office, working with people in Virginia Department of Transportation, we were able to develop two phases of a freight study for the peninsula; a landmass that is shared by three different jurisdictions. The experience I had to the capstone project in dealing with different agencies in understanding how different agencies approach a project, working with planners and operations people really help me in a real-world situation of developing the phases for a freight study. Within my own organization, Maryland Department of Transportation, I work at the secretary's office; we are the umbrella organization for all modal administration. There is state highway, transit, airport and port and having experienced a capstone and recognizing not everybody thinks the way I do when they are thinking about freight helps me develop a communication message. The capstone project mimics what you see in your own agency and your own organizational environment. Not everybody comes to the table with the same idea. Language is so important, getting commonality to make sure everyone on the same page in understanding the terms you use and understanding what a project is meant to do. The process and what the outcome is, that is so valuable and makes work in any organization or any discipline that much easier. The capstone project as emphasis for the Freight Academy helps to develop the skill sets. That's all I have. Nick I will turn it back to you.
Thank you all for your questions, or excuse me for your presentation. We will now move into question and answer session. Although, at this time, I don't see any questions typed into the chat box. If any of the participants have any questions, please feel free to type them into the chat box. Marygrace, Kristine, or Debbie I do not know if you have any final comments you would like to give while we wait for questions, but I see someone typing a question. Well, actually I had thought I saw someone typing in a question but at this time, I do not see any questions. I will go ahead and read some of the closeout material. Actually, a question did just pop up. The question reads, where does the Freight Academy go from here? A continuation of what we have seen it in the last three programs or is there a new direction to be explored? Marygrace, can you take a shot at answering that question?
I think we actually have funding for an Academy to be held in 2014. We are beginning the planning stages for the now. That will encompass looking at what is current in the freight environment, what things we have done in the past, topical areas to focus on. We are also exploring whether or not we can mimic the experience utilizing another part of the corridor and that geographical placement is one of the things we are trying to tackle right now. We have a robust freight network throughout the corridor and beyond and the question becomes, one of the values of the program is the changing dynamic through each academy. We have tried to look at what is new and what's the focus of freight and what's emerging. Also, quite frankly, and I don't take anything away from the rest of the country, it is been hard to find an environment like the New Jersey New Brunswick area where you can get to multiple types of distribution and warehousing in five or 10 minutes in almost any direction. We are looking at geographical placement and we are also trying to look at, what are the new topics that are coming forward? Those that support us closely with the program are always looking about what that the work they do for new topics. We will continue to do that. I would give a call out to those of you from the Freight Academy community. Those of you that may have an interest in it contact me and give me ideas. We've got time before the spring of 2014 to put an agenda together. Tell me what you think would be a good area to focus on.
The next question is, are there plans to start a Freight Academy LISTSERV similar to what the Operation Academy has?
Yes. We are in the process of working on that. Putting together some of the background we need within our system to make sure we can put it up and monitor it. Many of you are familiar with LISTSERVs, the Operations Academy which is a sister program has a very robust LISTSERV and we find people all the time are posting questions and asking questions of each other and that's a continuation of this network of peers. You will be seeing that and hopefully within the first quarter is not the first half of this year. One of the things we are toying with is do we just make Freight Academy graduates or do we have a two-tiered system where we have Freight Academy graduates and maybe we have a wider group of people looking for a place to bounce questions around. In doing that, we will do what we've always done and work closely with Federal Highway Freight Office and the professional development program. You can be sure that whatever we do, we will definitely work to supplement, complement other things that are out there so that all of you don't have to do with redundancy or inefficiencies and we can build on tools that are out there.
At this time, I do not see any additional questions. I will begin to read the closeout information. If anyone has questions, please feel free to type them in and we will check back prior to concluding the seminar.
Thank you all for attending today's seminar. The recorded version of this event will be available within the next few weeks on the Talking Freight website.
As a reminder, if you are an AICP member and would like to receive 1.5 Certification Maintenance credits for attending this seminar, please make sure you were signed in today with your first and last name or type your first and last name into the chat box if you are attending with a group of people. Please download the evaluation form and email it to me after you have completed it. Please also download the CM Credit instructions if you are unsure of how to obtain your credits for today's seminar.
The next seminar will be held on January 23 on the topic of The Impacts of Temporary U.S. Port Closures on International Supply Chains and the U.S. Economy. Registration for this seminar is not yet available, but an e-mail will be sent out when registration opens.
I encourage you to join the Freight Planning LISTSERV if you have not already done so. I will go back to the chat to see if there are additional question, but at this time to I do not see any additional questions or any participants typing. I will now close out today's session and I thank you all for attending. Enjoy the rest of your day.