KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Residents of West Knoxville know that the convergence KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Residents of West Knoxville know that the convergence
of two interstate highways, local traffic and frequent construction can
make driving in the area a major headache.

Jennifer Harper knows it, and she's doing something about it.

Harper, a graduate student in transportation engineering at UT, is working
on a computerized laboratory simulation of West Knoxville traffic that
could help reduce the area's traffic problems.

The Chattanooga native graduated from UT in May 1994 with a degree in civil
engineering. Harper is currently working as a graduate research assistant
for Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The project will allow traffic engineers to predict how roadblocks and

other stoppages on Interstate 40 in West Knoxville will affect traffic in
other areas. It will allow engineers to operate signs on the interstate
that can be changed via computer to give traffic instructions to
motorists.

Harper, with a 4.0 grade point average as a graduate student, has been
recognized by the Southeastern Transportation Center as the Southeast's top
transportation student.

Steve Richards, who heads the UT Transportation Center and the STC, said
Harper and nine other regional award winners will be honored Jan. 8 at the
U.S. Department of Transportation's annual research board meeting in
Washington, D.C.

The southeastern center is a federal DOT-sponsored research group
representing Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North and
South Carolina and Tennessee, Richards said. It includes several
universities in the region and is headed by UT.

"Talented students like Jennifer Harper are the key to ensuring safe and
efficient transportation now and in the future," Richards said. "We are
very proud to have one of our students win this award."

Fred Wegmann, a civil engineering professor, said Harper's thesis project
will review traffic court procedures in Tennessee and establish
communications links between court officials. Her goal is to publish a
reference manual for traffic court officials and to produce an information
and training home page on the World Wide Web.

Other projects in which Harper has been involved include:

Developing a
strategic plan for the Traffic Record Improvement Program for
Tennessee.

Working with ORNL
to develop transportation safety plans for a uranium cleanup operation in
Utah.

Helping ORNL
conduct an environmental impact statement on proposed alternatives to a
section of the Foothills Parkway in the Great Smoky Mountains National
Park.

Harper is president of the UT student chapter of the Institute of

Transportation Engineers and founder of the student chapter of the
Intelligent Transportation Society of America.