Dr. Chethika Abenayake and Dr. Amila Jayasinghe research and teach at the Department of Town and Country Planning at the University of Moratuwa in Sri Lanka. In June, they completed a guest stay at the "Friedrich List" Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences as part of the LBS2ITS project and joined researchers from the Chair of Mobility System Planning.

The aim of the ERASMUS+-funded joint project LBS2ITS (Location-based Services to Intelligent Transport Systems) is higher education curriculum development to produce professionals who are equipped to improve the liveability of urban and provincial areas in Sri Lanka through delivering an enhanced curriculum and new teaching practices for LBS and ITS in four Sri Lankan universities. By networking with transport scientists worldwide and gaining access to new technologies, the researchers hope to increase safety, environmental sustainability and efficiency in the transport sector in Sri Lanka and thus improve the quality of life in urban and rural areas.

As Senior Lecturers at the University of Moratuwa (Sri Lanka), Dr. Chethika Abenayake conducts research and teaching on the topics of Environmental Planning, Sustainable Cities, Climate Change Adaptation as well as Urban and Regional Planning; Dr. Amila Jayasinghe focuses his research on Transport and Infrastructure Planning, Urban Simulation, Spatial Analysis and Modelling and Urban Informatics. Within LBS2ITS, Dr. Abenayake and Dr. Jayasinghe were invited to the Chair of Mobility System Planning in June to evaluate the curriculum development results, discuss current research activities with members of the chair and gain insights into teaching and research activities at the faculty.

During their stay, the guest researchers attended various lectures such as Spatial and Transport Planning, Data Collection and Analysis in Transport Planning as well as Macroscopic Transport Modeling. Dr. Abenayake and Dr. Jayasinghe also gained insights into current research topics at the chair, including research into pedestrian traffic, strategic mobility planning and mobility behavior research, and presented their own research work. In a discussion with Dr. Katja Schulze, responsible for academic affairs and teaching quality, they talked about teaching evaluation, in particular the Bielefeld Learning Objective Oriented Evaluation (BiLOE). The joint activities also included a visit to the City of Dresden's transport development planning department on the topic of strategic mobility planning (Dresden Mobility Plan 2035+) and participation in faculty events such as the faculty plenary meeting, the Long Night of Science and the University Day.

We spoke to the two Sri Lankan scientists about their stay at the Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences.

LS: Dr. Chethika Abenayake and Dr. Amila Jayasinghe, thank you very much for your time and for agreeing to a short interview. What was the reason for your visit and what insights were you able to gain?

Chethika Abenayake: "Over the last three years together with our colleagues from the Chair of Mobility System Planning, we have developed modules and certain teaching materials, that we offered the students to get feedback on the moduls and to discuss, how we can refine them further. We presented our research activities and we could identify some similarities as well as certain areas where we can collaboratively look into some details for developing some prospectful reasearch in the future. Especially when it comes to transportation challenges, for example transportation behavior, that are quite different in this part of the world than to where we live. So we could see many ways of doing comparative research work, that we can learn from each other as well as that we could learn about the differences and similarities where we can merge our knowledge.”

LS: Could you see any differences in studying and academic life here compared to your university?

Chethika Abenayake: "During the discussion with Dr. Michael Krieg, we learned that In each department of TU-Dresden, there are a couple of courses for international students. In the university I teach, more than 50% of our students go for higher education in other countries. Germany was not a popular choice so far among them, because many people didn´t know about the opportunities here. So now we can communicate this and open up opportunities to get admissions. I believe this provides a vivid academic life for students to flourish."

Amila Jayasinghe: "Based on our short visit, we found that promoting sustainable development is not limited to the boundaries of one's own disciplinery knowledge and skills but also involves promoting the right attitude and mindset of students and researchers. So you´re going beyond and live that freedom in research and teaching."

LS: What impressions did you gain during your stay in Dresden outside of university life?

Chethika Abenayake: "One of the things that impressed me a lot is the Dresden tram system and how it is well connected to both the popular destinations and the peripheral areas. You have this concept of MOBI points; this last mile connection opens up opportunities to the people, I think that´s quite impressive. And how the pedestrian way works, that certain doors are being pedestrian nice - this sustainable mobility really fascinated me."

LS: How do you see the future?

Chethika Abenayake: "Many things that we could have done in our country, we could learn during this visit. But the exchange of experience is not one-way, because most of the knowledge we get from western countries does not work when it comes to the practical conditions in our country. How to find innovative solutions when things fail would again flourish the scholarship here."

Amila Jayasinghe: "We made a lot networking and met lots of beautiful and nice people. We got to know other chairs and what they´re doing and we can share those things with our students in Sri Lanka. So this is to end up our project, but we think that this is also a new beginning."

We wish Dr. Abenayake and Dr. Jayasinghe all the best and every success in their future careers.

LBS2ITS joint project

LBS2ITS consists of a consortium of three EU and four Sri Lankan universities researching the integration of location-based services (LBS) into intelligent transportation systems (ITS). Together with the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) and the Vienna University of Technology (TUW), the Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences is supporting four universities in Sri Lanka in further developing the quality of university teaching. The aim is to create an immersive learning environment that integrates digital and real-life teaching and learning experiences. Factors such as mentorship, cultural awareness, gender equality and social parity will be taken into account. The aim of the project is to increase safety, environmental sustainability and efficiency in the transport sector in Sri Lanka.

We have already reported on the LBS2ITS project in the Verkehrslage: Link to article


Lisa Schmidt/ Red. bearb.

Erasmus +

Erasmus+ is the European Commission's Programme for education, training, youth, and sport […]. As an integrated programme, Erasmus+ offers more opportunities for the mobility of learners and staff and cooperation across the education, training, and youth sectors and is easier to access than its predecessors, with simplified funding rules and a structure that aims to streamline the administration of the programme. (wikipedia.org)

We could see many ways of doing comparative research work, that we can learn from each other as well as that we could learn about the differences and similarities where we can merge our knowledge.

Chethika Abenayake