CAMDEN -- The management of America's ports may become more efficient and secure, thereby boosting the economies of their host regions, thanks to a three-year, $599,436 National Science Foundation grant supporting research currently underway at the Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
The project, "Partnership to Maximize Port Industry Performance: Integration of Port Information Systems, Processing and Control Equipment, and Microsimulation Tool," connects Rutgers researchers with representatives from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; the shipping industry; terminal operators; state and local highway agencies; and freight and technology companies in an effort to improve port competitiveness and improve the New Jersey economy.
Alok Baveja, an associate professor of management at the Rutgers University School of Business at Camden, is responsible for the overall management of this collaborative project. Maria Boile, an assistant professor of transportation at the Rutgers University School of Engineering, coordinates the technical and scientific management.
This Rutgers project is one of only 15 selected for funding from among 188 proposals submitted to the National Science Foundation during the past year.
Baveja notes that recent controversies concerning the sale of U.S. ports to foreign entities underscores the need for this research. "Politics aside, the controversy spotlighted the need for cooperation that spans nations, agencies, and disciplines," says the Rutgers-Camden scholar.
According to Baveja, "Few processes currently exist to allow such cooperation to occur. This project will provide a robust, integrative platform for collaborative decision-making among multiple partners, which will allow these sorts of strategic policy questions to be resolved objectively."
This systematic approach, according to Boile, will allow the freight and maritime transport industry to improve its efficiency. Such action is expected to yield "a significant economic impact, both in New Jersey and globally."
The Rutgers team, which includes researchers from the Rutgers School of Engineering and the Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation at Rutgers-New Brunswick, seeks to create a collaborative forum that develop the tools to allow analytical group decision-making by modeling large networks to a desired level of detail. Current applications employed by the maritime freight industry are unable to capture congestion effects across a wide area of interest.
Baveja anticipates that the research will offer the additional benefit of improving security at the nation's ports. "The analytical tools that we develop to facilitate the smooth transport of cargo also can improve such complex systems as law enforcement. The key is in tracking and analyzing information across complex systems. Once that process is created, its applications can help to realize significant economic and security benefits to the maritime industry specifically and to the nation's citizens at large."
Additional members of this Rutgers research team include Sotiris Theofanis, co-director of the Maritime Infrastructure Engineering and Management Program, a program under the Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) at Rutgers-New Brunswick, and Mohsen Jafari from the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the Rutgers engineering school.
"As New Jersey's premier public research university, Rutgers pursues new ideas that stand to yield direct benefits for the citizens of our state, as well as the nation and the world," says Mitchell P. Koza, dean of the Rutgers University School of Business at Camden. "The research conducted by Dr. Baveja, Dr. Boile, and the entire Rutgers team is an excellent example of how Rutgers helps to grow opportunities for business expansion." Baveja's research at the Rutgers University School of Business at Camden focuses on developing decision aids for managers in the service and manufacturing industries. He also has incorporated location analysis and general management theory into new models for greater efficiency in resource utilization in the public and private sectors.
Baveja teaches undergraduate business and MBA courses in Management Science, Supply Chain Management, Operations Management, and Total Quality Management at Rutgers-Camden. Baveja received his doctoral degree in industrial engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1993.
Boile is the director of research and education of CAIT's Maritime Infrastructure Engineering and Management Program. Her research focuses on intermodal freight and maritime transportation planning and operations and port engineering, management and operations.
Boile teaches undergraduate courses in Transportation Engineering and Planning and graduate courses in Freight and Maritime Transportation, Transportation Systems Analysis, Port Planning, Management and Operations, and Maritime and Port Security and Safety.