Momentum: Issue #8

December 10, 2018


Automotive industry leaders now have the rare opportunity to help train the next generation of connected- and automated-vehicle engineers thanks to InternHUB, a unique paid internship program at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI).

“We are excited and pleased to provide our partners with state-of-the-art resources and access to the talented students of Virginia Tech, which consistently ranks among the top ten engineering schools in the nation. Our unique program aims to transform students into transportation professionals and provide our participating industry members with a sustained pipeline of talent to meet their workforce needs,said Zachary Doerzaph, director of the Center for Advanced Automotive Research at VTTI and leader of InternHUB. Doerzaph is also an associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics at Virginia Tech.

InternHUB invites automotive suppliers and manufacturers to hire talented Virginia Tech undergraduate and graduate student interns to help develop next-generation transportation technologies alongside VTTI faculty. The goal is to facilitate practical skill development for interns and workforce-ready talent for employers, as well as to encourage continuous, meaningful relationships between interns and their sponsoring companies. Unlike traditional internships, InternHUB may last up to three academic years, providing ample time for students to become acquainted with industry projects and foster the skills needed in today and tomorrow’s transportation workforce.

Technology company Continental is currently participating in a soft launch of InternHUB. Three student interns travelled to Michigan over the summer to shadow Continental engineers and observe how automated-vehicle systems and their advanced sensing, controls, and interfaces are developed. This fall, the students are back in Blacksburg and continuing their internships at the transportation institute.

Gregory Beale, a master’s student in engineering mechanics, mentored under a Continental engineer who was developing a driving algorithm for the company’s autonomous shuttle project, the CUbE (Continental Urban Mobility Experience). This semester, Beale is working with VTTI faculty on designing a small-scale model vehicle prototype that will test new automated driving solutions.

The idea of the project is to observe how the vehicle prototype could operate in complex real-life driving scenarios, such as a bicyclist crossing the street, when given certain sensory information.

 “As a student, I have really appreciated the chance to work on proprietary research. Being able to collaborate with engineers in the field who are actually developing automated vehicles is an incredible opportunity that I would not have had otherwise,” said Beale.

InternHUB is housed within VTTI’s Automation Hub, an interdisciplinary advanced learning facility that opened on Nov. 27 during a ceremony attended by the transportation institute’s industry and government partners, as well as university officials. Located on the Virginia Smart Roads test bed in Blacksburg, Automation Hub includes over 15,000 square feet of shared garage and shop facilities used for vehicle instrumentation, as well as for mechanical and electrical system development.

According to Doerzaph, Automation Hub is designed to facilitate fast-paced, high-tech transdisciplinary projects. For partners, the Hub’s flexible organizational structure ensures faster results and the ability to collaborate continuously with researchers and students throughout the project development process.

“The automotive industry is rapidly evolving as the philosophies of traditional automotive industry mix with those of tech companies from Silicon Valley and beyond. InternHUB adopts this emerging trend by creating an environment modeled after tech startups. Our students work in small teams guided by experienced faculty mentors and follow Agile development processes.  A large open-concept design studio encourages broad collaboration amongst team members and is only a short walk down the hallway to a full complement of garage and shop facilities. Through these state-of-the-art capabilities, we are able to provide all the necessary tools for development and testing of advanced vehicle technologies and to ensure impactful project outcomes for our customers,” Doerzaph explained.

InternHUB projects will also benefit from VTTI’s full suite of research and support resources, including the Virginia Smart Roads, instrumented research vehicles, hardware and software development groups, extensive naturalistic driving databases, and a high-performance computing center.

Beale, who will continue his internship through the summer of 2020, believes the skills he is learning will help him achieve his goal of becoming an automotive engineer.

“I want to go into industry someday and hopefully work on automated-vehicle testing and development, so this has been a great opportunity for me. At first I was not sure whether I wanted to pursue an internship this summer, but I am very glad that I did. Really, there is no better time than now to get this kind of experience,” said Beale.

The transportation institute is actively seeking additional partners to join the program, as well as student interns for the winter of 2019. Visit the InternHUB website to learn more. Companies seeking more information on becoming an industry member may contact Zac Doerzaph at Students interested in applying for InternHUB should contact Melissa Hulse at or 540-231-0366.

About Virginia Tech Transportation Institute

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute conducts research to save lives, time, and money and protect the environment. As one of seven premier research institutes created by Virginia Tech to answer national challenges, VTTI is continually advancing transportation through innovation and has impacted public policy on national and international levels.


Last week, ITS America welcomed 12 new members to the Board of Directors, and announced 3 officers. The newly elected board members represent a diverse group of senior-level executives from private companies, public agencies and academia.

“This new group of board members is very forward-thinking and shares our belief that intelligent transportation technology will save lives and improve mobility,” said ITS America President and CEO Shailen Bhatt.  “We are thrilled to have them join us in this critical work.”

New officers of the Board are Chair Malcolm Doughertyof Michael Baker International, Vice Chair Jennifer Cohan of Delaware Department of Transportation, and Secretary Steve Dellenback of Southwest Research Institute.

New members of the Board include:

John Barton, Senior Vice President, HNTB | John brings more than three decades of experience in transportation, serving in leadership roles at the Texas Department of Transportation and Texas A&M University System.

Kathleen Bower, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs & International Relations, AAA | Kathleen has spent 25 years at AAA and directs its public affairs and government relations efforts to improve mobility and enhance safety for the traveling public.

Ed Bradley, Program Manager Product Regulatory Affairs, Safety, Toyota | Ed brings more than 35 years of experience in the automotive industry, including 21 years with Toyota, bringing a focus developing technologies and regulations to support connected and automated vehicle systems.  

Dr. Robert Edelstein, ITS Practice Leader, AECOM | Bob serves as AECOM’s ITS Practice Lead and brings more than 40 years of experience in intelligent transportation with an emphasis on infrastructure planning and projects.

Jeff Marootian, Director, District Department of Transportation | Jeff has served as Director of the District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) since early 2017. Prior to joining DDOT, he was part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s leadership team supporting key initiatives such as the Smart City Challenge and passage of the FAST Act. He also served as the Department’s Chief Sustainability Officer.

Carrie Morton, Deputy Director, MCity | Carrie joined the University of Michigan in 2011 and has worked at the University’s Energy Institute and MCity. Carrie brings extensive experience from the private sector and academia, with a focus on connected and automated vehicles.

Joanna Pinkerton, President & CEO, Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) | Joanna brings extensive experience in mobility, cross-sector collaboration and economic development in the transportation industry. Prior to leading COTA, she served in leaderships roles at the Transportation Research Center, the Ohio State Center for Automotive Research, and the Honda-Ohio State Partnership.

Mick Slattery, CEO, Conduent | Leading Conduent Transportation providing public transportation and mobility solutions, Mick brings nearly three decades of experience in the technology sector.

Laurette Stiles, VP, Strategic Resources, State Farm | Laurette serves as Vice President of Strategic Resources at State Farm and brings more than three decades of experience in the insurance industry, covering a variety of key issues.

Dan Turton, North America Vice President, Public Policy, GM | Dan has has more than 25 years of experience in government affairs, having served in the White House and on Capitol Hill. He is responsible for GM’s North American policy strategy and oversees GM’s relationships with all executive branch and congressional officials.

Desi Ujkashevic, Global Director, Automotive Safety Engineering, Ford Motor Company | Desi brings nearly three decades of experience at Ford Motor Company, including global leadership focusing on safety, sustainability, advanced mobility and new market development.

Jarrett Wendt, Executive Vice President & Head of CityNOW, Panasonic North America | Jarrett brings nearly two decades of leadership in the private sector and currently leads Panasonic’s Smart City initiative, corporate partnerships and the creation Panasonic’s Connected Vehicle business.

The full Board of Directors for ITS America is listed online at