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RAP opportunity at Federal Highway Administration     FHWA

Development of Next Generation Model of the Highway Economic Requirements System (HERS)


Federal Highway Administration

opportunity location
27.01.01.C0490 Washington, DC 20590


name email phone
MONA ASUDEGI 202.366.1714


FHWA’s Office of Transportation Policy Studies based in Washington, DC is seeking a talented Research Associate to support enhancements to the Highway Economic Requirements System (HERS). The HERS model provides national projections of highway condition and performance under alternative potential levels of investment over a 20-year horizon and yields estimates of the investment needs relative to alternative targets. The model is currently being re-coded from Fortran into Python, which will facilitate the incorporation of advanced optimization algorithms. The current algorithms are dated and myopically optimize the investment program a single period at a time without adequately considering investment timing across the time horizon. The investment program consists of improvement options to more than 100,000 sections of highway in the model database. The computation run time is very expensive because of the vast sample size, the existence of constraints on the total dollar amount of investment, the need to select among alternative potential improvements (i.e. resurface or reconstruct, add lanes, shoulder improvements) to a given highway section, along with inefficiency of the modeling codes. In addition, the quality of the data input from the Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) impinges on the model and is in some need of improvement.

The Research Associate will assume a high level of responsibility for contributing to the next generation version of HERS by working both independently or collaboratively on a variety of tasks including setting the program of model development. Key among these tasks will be advising on the model re-code into PYTHON, which is being written by another FHWA office, and developing the new optimization framework. The latter involves remodeling the problem into a more efficient constrained model by reviewing all constraints and objectives in order to improve the mathematical model and remove redundancies and inefficiencies; and by developing an efficient solution algorithm and heuristic for the model as needed to improve runtime.          

In addition to this responsibility, the Research Associate will contribute to other tasks including:

The selected applicant is expected to be an independent thinker and a self-starter. Talented mathematical modelers, preferably with a background in transportation engineering and economics, that possess innovative ideas and expertise in developing efficient optimization models and solution algorithms, analyzing transportation data sets, and statistical modeling are encouraged to apply.

Additionally, applicants should have proficiency in algorithm development using optimization software (e.g. CPLEX, GAMS, AIMMS, and FICO Express), statistical programs (e.g., SAS, R), and programming languages (e.g., Python). Applicants should be proficient in using callable functions for the optimization software within API.

key words
Optimization, Heuristic Development, Operations Research, Decision Science, Data Analysis, Statistical Analysis, Transportation Economy, Transportation Engineering


Citizenship:  Open to U.S. citizens, permanent residents and non-U.S. citizens
Level:  Open to Postdoctoral and Senior applicants


Base Stipend Travel Allotment Supplementation
$67,000.00 $4,000.00

Experience Supplement:
Postdoctoral and Senior Associates will receive an appropriately higher stipend based on the number of years of experience past their PhD.

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