Friday, October 23, 2015

Fabulous Launch of Forecasting Urban Travel Book at Northwestern University

I arrived today from Chicago, after taking part yesterday in the launch of the new book, "Forecasting Urban Travel,"  co-authored by Professors David Boyce and Huw Williams, and recently published by Edward Elgar.

The event took place at the Northwestern University library in the stunning Ver Steeg Faculty Lounge. The wonderful master of ceremonies was Professor Hani S. Mahmassani, who is the Director of Northwestern's Transportation Center.

I had the great honor of being one of the three panelists. When I received the invitation, I had to say "yes!" David Boyce I respect tremendously. He has been a mentor and dear friend for many years. He is an INFORMS Fellow, an RSAI Fellow, and a recipient of the Robert Herman Lifetime Achievement Award in Transportation Science.  I have been with David at numerous conferences and professional events in the US, Canada, Sweden, and even Russia.

The day began with a luncheon at the Norris University Center in a room with the spectacular views below (including one of the new Kellogg Business School Building under construction).
The below photos were taken at the luncheon and Professor Huw Williams had traveled from Wales with his wife for this special event.

The Ver Steeg Room is gorgeous, complete with an oil painting and was the perfect venue to celebrate the publication of this book, which, in my remarks, I called a masterpiece of scholarship.
Professor Hani S. Mahmassani welcomed the attendees and congratulated the authors.
The Dean of Libraries and the Transportation Librarian had opening remarks at the book launch. Below they are standing with Professor David Boyce.
Then it was time for Professors Boyce and Williams to highlight the contributions in their over 600 page magnum opus. Boyce and Williams did a terrific job, each describing the specific chapters that he was responsible for.  I had read and reread the book and enjoyed very much hearing from the authors their intellectual  journey that resulted in the book's publication. According to Boyce, the genesis took place in Williams' garden in Cardiff, Wales, in 2003, when Boyce visited him, after they had completed a paper on forecasting urban travel, from both US and UK perspectives. Huw said to David that the paper should be expanded into a book. Much of the work over a ten year span took place collaboratively over the Internet.

After the highlights of the 12 chapters had been presented we had a break and then it was time for the panelists. I enjoyed the mix of academics with a practitioner. Professor Ram Pendyala of Georgia Tech and Kermit Wies, former Deputy Executive Director, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, were my fellow panelists.

Below is a photo of the authors and panelists with Professor Mahmassani.

 My full presentation can be viewed here.  One of my favorites chapters in the book is Chapter 7 on Transportation Network Equilibrium.

The Q&A part was terrific with questions ranging from which was our favorite travel forecasting software, to questions about freight transportation, to issues surrounding acquisition of data.
Then it was time for a reception. The crabcakes were delicious and I had had some just the previous Friday at Legal Seafoods in Boston where I spoke at the ACEC conference.
The discussions at the reception were absolutely delightful and it was great to meet Professor Ken Small and to see Professor Marco Nie again, and even Paul Slater.

In my remarks,  I emphasized the deep scholarship behind this book and the history of the field. Also, in reading it, I remembered so many contributors so it was quite a  nostalgic walk down Memory Lane.  Boyce has always been one who welcomed new researchers into the field and has tirelessly guided and nurtured scholars, building bridges with practice. The following collage, which I included in my presentation emphasized the importance of people in the forecasting urban travel field and, I might add, the great friendships that have been made over the years. My dissertation advisor at Brown University, Dr. Stella Dafermos, is in the top left corner photo. She was the second female PhD in Operations Research in the world. Many in the photo collage below are noted in the book. Over 100 people reviewed chapters in the book.

The book takes on on a trip of 60 years over space and time. It already is a classic.

The paperback version should be available in 2016 Boyce told us.

We ended the perfect day with a delicious dinner, hosted by Hani S. Mahmassani at the Stained Glass restaurant  in Evanston.  The photo below taken by a waiter did not come out well but the memories will stay with us for forever.
The dessert (3 types of creme brulee was even better than it looks below!)
Many thanks to Boyce and Williams for a book that will be read by future generations of students, faculty, and transportation practitioners as well, I am sure, urban planners. Thank you also for helping to build such a special community!

Finally, congratulations!!!!