Monday, February 13, 2012

Traffic Issues

I was left with the decision myself of finding a new research field. As the estuary project still offered a lot of publication material, no dent was made in my publication trail. Then, rather unexpectedly, my subsequent course of action in research came on track. An excellent former student of mine, already having managed major infrastructural projects, wanted a comprehensive research project on the history of car use after WWII. He took care of my financial problems, as he proposed to hire a well-known private consultant, who would in turn consult me. So, no research money could be redirected. As usual, a committee from external public officers was supervising, but the project and its product also required the approval of two of my colleagues. I had no problem with that, as I could not see what damage that could do to my project design and my outcomes. I was also granted to pick them myself. To prevent unnecessary delays, I only presented the final copy to them for approval, and that worked out without any fuzz or change. 
As stated, the study was about the postwar development of car use, and the many changes it brought about to society and its transportation. A completely different infrastructure had resulted, and with it appropriate large scale and specialized distribution systems. As such, a very useful exercise, highlighting the advent of a fully different society.
But considering the bottom line - was this project also of any practical use? At some meeting, a scholar of Delft Technical University, said he knew me. He told, that he had presented our report in China, making the Chinese in detail aware of the fundamental changes to their country they were going to face. A remark, I greatly appreciated, while it convinced me that no research capacity of mine had been wasted during my forced research transition.
Furthermore, this transition to traffic issues was greatly facilitated by the growing number of senior students, that sought my expertise and guidance during the final stage of their study. Our mutual interest developed often into co-research.