Frank Duran

UTEP Civil Engineering Professor, Student Researchers Study TSA Checkpoint

Frank Duran
UTEP Civil Engineering Professor, Student Researchers Study TSA Checkpoint

Ruey (Kelvin) Cheu, Ph.D., professor of civil engineering, hopes to improve Transportation Security Administration (TSA) airport checkpoints as the lead investigator of an operations research and systems analysis project conducted by the Center for Accelerating Operational Efficiency at Arizona State University (ASU), a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Center of Excellence.

The work is being conducted as part of a $3.85 million grant from the DHS Science and Technology Directorate. The amount represents the first-year value of a 10-year award.

Cheu is working with students from UTEP and Arizona State to create simulation models of terminals located inside Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The team bases its simulations on real-world DHS data to help researchers determine the optimum number of transportation security officers (TSOs) based on the number of travelers at a given checkpoint at a given time of day. These simulations were validated by a team of ASU capstone students who worked alongside TSOs to validate the models. The data helps lines flow more quickly, allocates limited TSA resources efficiently, and maintains the safety of passengers and crew members.

“With this project, specifically, we will be expected to improve the security of our country,” Cheu said. “In this case, it’s to make the TSA operations at our airports more efficient. We are able to detect, track and minimize inconvenience to travelers. But also, we help TSA make more efficient use of its resources and budget to maximize the safety of our country.” -Pablo Villa