Student Spotlight: NCSU's Lake Trask

Math is Lake Trask’s specialty. He received a Bachelor’s in Mathematics at Davidson College in 2011. While at Davidson, one of Trask’s undergraduate professors from North Carolina State University (NCSU) was working on some research which Trask thought was incredibly interesting in a degree field called Operations Research. Trask is now in his 4th year as a Ph.D. student in that field at NCSU.

Joseph Lake Trask with his poster on “Dynamic Traffic Control Interventions for Enhanced Mobility and Economic Competitiveness” at the University of Florida’s Reception during TRB 2015.“There’s a common perception that math goes off in directions that doesn’t have much application in the real world,” Trask said. “It is not always obvious how to go from theory to application. Operations Research has provided a great way to bridge that gap and apply some very important concepts to real world applications.”

Through work on an NCSU project with faculty advisor Dr. John Baugh, and after many hours of extensive JAVA training, he was introduced to Dr. Nagui Rouphail who put Trask to work on a STRIDE project titled “Dynamic Traffic Control Interventions for Enhanced Mobility and Economic Competitiveness.” The STRIDE Center is the 2012 U.S. Department of Transportation grant-funded regional (Southeastern) University Transportation Center (UTC), housed at the UFTI.

This STRIDE project was his first taste of mixing Operations Research with transportation, so he studied up on transportation concepts and strategies. His task within the STRIDE project was to develop decision support systems that would help train traffic operation personnel deploy traffic safety management on congested freeways.

“Transportation has provided a great application to use Operations Research skills,” Trask said. “Seeing how great the transportation community was through TRB and STRIDE conferences made me feel like I’ve made a good choice in working with transportation and STRIDE. I would be open to transportation aspects in the future.”

Trask hopes to stay in the Southeastern U.S. and find a job with a transportation or software company after his May 2016 expected graduation.