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Why academic qualifications aren’t everything

Last year Mats Järlströmrevealed troubling flaws in the mathematical formula used to govern the timing of US traffic lights and he deduced a better system.  For his trouble, he was fined $500 for practicing engineering without a licence.

The AITPM started up to be the exact opposite.  You can become a member if you are involved in improving traffic conditions no matter what your level of education.

There is no better example of this than the late Arthur Sims,known as the Father of SCATS the Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System.  A system that has been so successful that it now operates some 42000 intersections in over 154 cities in 25 countries around the world.

Arthur had no tertiary qualifications.  He tells of how he came from a humble background.

My father was an iron moulder and core maker who worked at the Eveleigh Workshops in Redfern and he used to make all the cylinders for the old steam trains.  The old c36 was one of his pets the ones that use to be the fastest mountain train in the world.  It use to go up to the Blue Mountains.

Wanting to coordinate traffic lights is like a logical idea but how could you know what the traffic situation was.  Fortunately, in the late 60s magnetic loop detectors which are buried in the roadway had come on the scene.

They were invented in 68 so at that stage of the game with the Frank Hulser and myself and Graham Davis worked on the idea of trying to make the fixed time system an adaptive system and so we installed 50 Loop detectors just outside the control centre of varying lengths so we could analyse what type of output we are getting from the detectors that and how we can analyse that data to make the system automatically change and it was virtually the start of the design of the SCAT system.  That type of development when on for 2 or 3 years and that was still in the days before the moderncomputer has no such thing as a solid-state clever computer.

The old Eveleigh locomotive sheds now house a modern technology park.  One of the areas is named the Arthur Sims Room.  His father would be very proud.

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