Transportation faculty, Ph.D. students hold international symposium
By Waad Ayoub
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign hosted the second International Transportation Ph.D. Student Symposium at the I Hotel and Conference Center on September 3 and 4. This doctoral forum, originally initiated in December 2012 to foster mutual collaboration between Harbin Institute of Technology, an internationally renowned university in China, and Illinois, was expanded this year to include other educational institutions. The event attracted 100 attendees, including 80 Ph.D. students and a number of internationally-recognized faculty in transportation systems and pavements.
This year the participating schools included Northwestern University, Mississippi State University, Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden (KTH), University of Minnesota, Rutgers, University of California at Berkeley, and Texas A&M University.
“It is extremely beneficial for Ph.D. students to interact with their peers for the purpose of achieving professional development through networking, exchange of knowledge and sharing research ideas,” said Imad Al-Qadi, Founder Professor of Engineering at the U of I and Director of the Illinois Center for Transportation, headquartered within CEE at Illinois.
“It is always useful to know what others are doing in order to rank your work relative to the work of others,” said Hani Mahmassani, Director of the Northwestern University Transportation Center and holder of the William A. Patterson Distinguished Chair in Transportation. “This is also a chance for students to socialize on a professional level and to appreciate peer-reviewed research.”
Presentations about pavements and systems were alternately given by faculty members and Ph.D. students and were followed by poster sessions where students had the opportunity to discuss their research work informally. Fifty five posters were displayed and students presenting the best posters for transportation systems and pavements were given awards by faculty members. Those winning awards were:
- Qazi Aurangzeb and Ahmad El Khatib (U of I), winner, Best Research in Transportation Pavements
- Ricardo De Frias Lopez (KTH), winner, Best Research in Transportation Pavements
- Syeda Rahman (Texas A&M), runner-up, Best Research in Transportation Pavements
- Pengcheng Shagguan (Illinois), runner-up, Best Research in Transportation Pavements
- Tanvi Jindal (Illinois), winner, Best Research in Transportation Systems
- Jiwon Kim (Northwestern), winner, Best Research in Transportation Systems
- Christopher Lindsey (Northwestern), runner-up, Best Research in Transportation Systems
- Xinming Zhang (Harbin Institute of Technology), runner-up, Best Research in Transportation Systems
The Second International Transportation Ph.D. Student Symposium was concluded with a decision to hold the next annual symposium at KTH in Sweden. The participating universities intend to continue to hold this event in order to maintain close interaction between the participants.
“We are hoping to increase strategic collaboration between the Royal Institute of Technology, the University of Illinois, and Harbin Institute of Technology,” said Bjorn Birgisson, Vice President for Research at the Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden. “The expected benefits are numerous and will certainly include both faculty and students. Students, for instance, will learn that their research challenges are actually global in character and will benefit from the multi-cultural aspect of the symposium.”
“With so many competing activities, research symposia, and journal publications going on, one would not want to invest time and effort and travel to attend an event unless it is worthwhile, and this symposium is definitely worthwhile especially that I foresee a great potential for collaboration,” said Dallas Little, Regents Professor at Texas A&M University.