Moving goods through the Commonwealth is a challenge. But two University of Virginia graduate engineering students are working to develop route analysis tools for land and water that improve that process and benefit the industry.

Cody Pennetti received his PhD from UVA’s Center for Risk Management of Engineering Systems in May 2020, and Dan Andrews anticipates receiving his in August of 2020. Both have been honored with the school’s Louis T. Rader Engineering Graduate award – Pennetti for Outstanding Systems Engineering Graduate Student, Andrews for Systems Engineering Graduate Service – and both have collaborated with CCALS as research partners, along with other partners including the Port of Virginia (PoV), the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).

Their work, however, is distinct. “Dan and I have a complementary scope of work while focusing on different modes and methods of transport,” said Pennetti, who has developed a tool for optimizing travel-time reliability for freight distribution centers serving the Port of Virginia. Andrews’ work focuses on Inland Waterway Transportation networks rather than overland routes.

Pennetti’s research efforts for VDOT focus on data analytics and testing of methods for urban mobility planning, risk and resilience, performance monitoring, corridor improvement, and investment prioritization. This work investigates travel time reliability forecasts, access management, safety, geospatial analytics and equitable accessibility for corridor improvements. He is currently in Phase 3 of a continuous effort with Virginia Transportation Research Council (VTRC), VDOT, regional Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), VEDP, and Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DPRT).

“The VEDP element is a major opportunity, which is exciting,” said Pennetti. “I’m passionate about efforts that support Virginia, and this is a great synthesis of work between VDOT, VEDP, PoV, UVA, CCALS. The freight simulation work has also gained interest from private industry and UVA VentureLab. They have been supportive on a potential commercial endeavor.”

While Pennetti deals with land-based transport, Andrew’s focus is on Virginia’s waterways, pulling data from many sources to create a real-time picture of risks and opportunities for moving goods safely and efficiently up and down the state’s Inland Waterway Transportation Networks.

Andrews works in support of the PoV and gives special attention to the James River in Virginia extending from the deep-water ports in Norfolk and Portsmouth, VA to the Richmond Marine Terminal and various other locations on the river. The ability to better utilize waterway transportation networks alleviates highway congestion, improves environmental sustainability and promotes the safe movement of freight, and is valuable to stakeholders ranging from port operators and government agencies to recreational boaters.

Andrews, who is a Lieutenant. Colonel in the US Army and due to begin work as an Operations Research and Systems Analyst at the Pentagon in August, has been generous in sharing his remarkable research and achievements with colleagues.

“Working with CCALS has been a rewarding experience, and has provided a clear path toward the completion of my course of study,” Andrews said. “Working with organizations like the Port of Virginia, the Virginia Department of Transportation, and others offers an opportunity to conduct meaningful work and receive timely feedback from the professionals operating in the fields in which our work is impactful. The systems we are afforded the opportunity to work on are real and impact countless people. We often get to see these systems up close and have witnessed the implementation of system-wide solutions and their impacts on enterprise operations.

“The graduate and undergraduate students in our research group continuously have collaborative and varied opportunities to work on each project, such as the work Cody and I have been involved in. I’m grateful for the support and teamwork from my fellow graduate students as well as the undergraduates who have been involved in the group’s research. I am equally grateful for the support and mentorship from Professor Lambert, Mr. Polmateer, and Mr. Manasco, and for the United States Army’s Advanced Civil Schooling program.”

CCALS is proud to have partnered with these outstanding engineers, and extends congratulations on winning the Louis T. Rader Outstanding Engineering Graduate Student award, and on their considerable achievements. For more information, see UVA Engineering’s article UVA Team Uses Systems Approach to Speed Truck Traffic Through Port of Virginia and CCALS’ article CCALS Holds Logistics Workshop on Intermodal Mobility of Goods & Services, or contact Cody Pennetti directly at

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