Del. Barry Knight, R-Virginia Beach. Courtesy of Virginia Republican Party.

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Knight to chair House Appropriations Committee

Speaker of the House-designee Todd Gilbert announced today that Del. Barry Knight (R-Virginia Beach) will serve as Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee for the coming 2022-23 General Assembly Session.

“I look forward to working with Barry to craft a fiscally responsible budget that meets the needs of all Virginians, protects our AAA bond rating, and positions Virginia for a brighter future,” Gilbert said in a statement.

The outgoing Appropriations chairman is Del. Luke Torian, D-Prince William County.

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Hesham Rakha. Courtesy of Virginia Tech.

Virginia Tech’s Hesham Rakha awarded the 2021 IEEE Intelligent Transportation System Outstanding Research Award

 Hesham Rakha, director of the Center for Sustainable Mobility at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), has been awarded with the 2021 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Outstanding Research Award for his contributions to large-scale transportation system optimization, modeling, and assessment.

The IEEE ITS Outstanding Research Award is given annually for Intelligent Transportation Systems Society researchers, practitioners, and research/development teams who have made significant contributions to research in related fields, developed and deployed successful ITS systems or implementations, and demonstrated leadership in promoting ITS technologies.

Rakha started at the institute in 1997. Since then, he has served as a research scientist, group leader, and the director of the Center for Sustainable Mobility since 2004. 

The Virginia Tech researcher’s key achievement entails the continuous development of the INTEGRATION microscopic traffic simulation software, an internationally recognized transportation modeling tool that models human travel and driving behavior. Rakha’s software optimizes the longitudinal and lateral motion of various ground transportation modes (cars, buses, trucks, trains, and bicycles), routes vehicles efficiently, and also include various traffic signal controllers. 

The INTEGRATION microscopic traffic simulation software has been used in a variety of applications including the 2002 Winter Olympics, the 2008 Summer Olympics, and in the greater Los Angeles area modeling more than 3 million multi-modal traveler trips.

As a professor, Rakha has taught over 40 undergraduate and graduate courses on skillsets needed to develop environmentally friendly and safe transportation systems. Since 1999, he has taught to over 1,000 students, including serving to completion as an advisor for 35 Ph.D. and 46 master’s students.

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Virginia ABC announces alcohol education and prevention grants available

In an effort to reduce underage and high-risk drinking, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) will open its grant applications process for the 2022-2023 Alcohol Education and Prevention Grant program on Jan. 1, 2022.

Since 2013, Virginia ABC has awarded an average of $80,000 each year through its grant program to Virginia organizations working to prevent underage and high-risk drinking. Organizations are eligible to receive up to $10,000 each to support best-practice programs that have a long-lasting impact and encourage partnerships between organizations. Community coalitions, law enforcement, nonprofits, schools, colleges and universities, faith-based organizations and prevention-related groups are encouraged to apply. Proposed projects must address one or more of the following focus areas:
•    underage drinking prevention
•    social providing or social hosting prevention
•    high-risk drinking prevention

This grant application guide and the grant application are located on ABC’s website at Applications are due by 5 p.m. on March 1, 2022.