The information provided on this page has been contributed by the individual alumnus

Dennis Clark

BS 1997

My story is a little different to tell as to how I became a geographer as far back as 8th grade or so maps and drawing maps was an interest to me so along with Art and a little Science my direction unfolded. At first my Dad told me I couldn’t make a living as an Artist but could probably get by as a draftsman and that was the curriculum I chose for high school and like most Michigan high school graduates my first job after graduation (1972) was as a machine shop apprentice that lasted a year or so and after completion figured I’d better get back in school so I enrolled at Schoolcraft completed my associates in General Studies (1977) and took a position as a Technical Illustrator trainee. I latter found out that this was equivalent to an entry level draftsman so after five years on the job perfecting my skills I got into Product Design after completing a one year certificate in Mechanical Design (1981) and worked at it for the next Ten years in the field hoping to get in the with the Big Three. Well instead I hired in with the State of Michigan/Transportation Department as an entry level Draftsman Mapping various projects for scoping documents. I looked into Civil Service requirements for a Transportation Planner and a geography degree was acceptable so I transferred to MSU Geography program and completed my undergrad requirements in a few years while working full time on the Transportation Departments Education Program. Later after graduation (1997) I applied for and received a Transportation Planners position with a transitional period to go from a technical to a professional vocation in which I succeeded in becoming a Senior Transportation Planner and have been working at it for the last dozen years.

The work here in the SUTA (Statewide and Urban Travel Analysis) Section in the Transportation Planning Department is an ongoing effort to keep the Statewide Model current and up and running. I work with a team of modelers responsible for the upkeep, maintenance, and operation of the Statewide Model used to realistically replicate the State of Michigan’s passenger vehicle travel patterns. We utilize the four step modeling process and the social economic data, employment by sectors, income, household size and vehicles per household work as inputs to drive the model producing outputs as trips by purpose home based work, non-home based work and other. The household survey is used to calibrate and verify the model outputs. The model is used to forecast future traffic volumes and growth rates as well as air quality and economic benefit inputs. My function is maintaining the model network to Michigan framework releases and the corresponding traffic analysis zone polygon layer associated with the network. I also produce and maintain a Land Use Model that is utilized as a sensitivity test for the passenger model network at least in theory. The land use by type is also stored within the TAZ layer attribution by percentage. In my cubicle I work with Modeling, GIS and CAD software to produce the various coverage required to run, maintain and update the statewide model.