Dr David Rey

Dr David Rey Dr David Rey has become a Lecturer in transport engineering after being a research associate here for 3 years. It has been a smooth transition, as David has been teaching several classes since he arrived. Now, along with a new office come new opportunities. This office is not one of those well-worn rooms with years of collected artefact softening the corners. His is an office waiting to be filled with the stuff of his career.

Already, he has designed a new post graduate course for the Masters of Engineering Science Transport. Transport Logistics Engineering (CVEN9421) explores advanced methods applied to transport systems such as network  algorithms, mathematical optimization and integer programming. This new unit fills the current gap in transport logistics within the curriculum.

Surprisingly, David began his undergraduate studies as an electrical engineer. On completion of a BSc and a MSc  from Universite Montpellier II, he developed a growing suspicion that he was not particularly enthused about electrical engineering. He was, instead, deeply drawn to mathematics and research. He completed a Masters of Mathematics at Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio de Janeiro, but it was 2008 and the GFC had hit hard. No-one was hiring maths graduates. But as he sat on buses for too long, as he waited for late running trains, as he saw multiple empty buses following each other, he pondered how mathematical knowledge could improve this and so he began to seek out academic work in transport engineering. He knew “we could do better.”

He was awarded a fellowship grant at IFSTTAR and the Universite de Grenoble, where his PhD studies began at the Traffic Engineering Laboratory. His gaze and interest were taken up to skies, away from crowded buses, as he investigated conflict detection and resolution in air traffic control. He is proud of the advances he and his colleagues made in efficient and scalable solutions to improve global air traffic safety.

Since joining CVEN and the transport innovation hub rCITI, David has come back down to earth, looking at some of the challenges faced in urban networks. He is fascinated by abstract solutions that can be used for any routing problem: from mail delivery to charity food collection. Colloquially known as the travelling salesman problem, vehicle routing is a long-standing engineering aporia, emerging in the 1930s and significantly developed in the 1970s.

But since then few major improvements have been designed. This is a delicious challenge for a young conceptual academic “to touch real world problems and at the same time engage with higher levels of abstraction”.

Transport systems engage so many stakeholders and David Rey believes it is vital that transport engineering academics recognise and delineate their role within the matrix of stakeholders. “We have to be innovative, designing new ideas and new solutions: solutions that are real not just on paper, but on the road and in the sky”. Industry is a vital link in the implementation of innovative ideas, with their established infrastructures and teams of engineers at their disposal. Working at CVEN was so attractive to David partly because of its close knit ties to industry combined with its intellectual rigour and technological capacities.

Dr Rey’s connections to local and international industry are being constantly solidified by his research work. French – Australian joint venture Keolis-Downer is currently working with the NSW government to design innovative transport services. David will be assisting them with innovations such as responsive, on-demand public transportation.  This is the transport system of the future, re-thinking traditional methods, attempting to make moving around our cities safer, easier, saner and cleaner. David Rey will be part of this sweeping change.