Driving away with top honors: FIU’s transportation engineers | FIU News

By Adrienne Sylver

A healthy obsession with transportation—and a focus on leadership and professional development—is what lies behind the success of the student chapter of FIU’s Institute of Transportation Engineers (FIU ITE). The group recently received Best Student Chapter honors at the 2022 Florida Puerto Rico District ITE (FLPRITE) Annual Meeting in St. Augustine. In addition, several members received individual awards.

“It’s very competitive with about 10 active student groups in the district from universities like the University of Florida, Florida State University, the University of Central Florida, and Florida Atlantic University. I am so proud of our students,” said Priyanka Alluri, Ph.D., associate professor in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at FIU’s College of Engineering and Computing (CEC) and the club’s faculty advisor.

Of particular note at this year’s conference, she said, is the recognition that FIU’s program produces students who are prepared for senior positions in the field.

“I was particularly excited when the keynote speaker from ITE International announced to the audience that he had just hired two recent FIU graduates at the international level. If he needs to hire someone, he knows where to go,” Alluri said.

The FIU ITE student chapter addresses specific transportation issues each year.

“We try to solve real problems. That could be improving pedestrian or bicycle safety, street lighting or signage, studying the different types of barriers used on Florida’s freeways, or researching the causes of wrong-way accidents,” Alluri said.

As a traffic safety expert who has led numerous traffic safety studies as principal investigator, Alluri understands Florida’s unique problems. Heavy traffic, distracted drivers, constant road construction, and frequent changes in traffic patterns offer many opportunities to make roads safer.

In addition to the Best Student Chapter Award, FIU students were also recognized at the FLPRITE meeting. Honored:

  • First place, Student Poster Competition – Md Mahmud Hasan Mamun
  • Third place, Student Poster Competition – Jimoku Hinda Salum
  • The FLPRITE District Transportation Grant by William R. McGrath – John Kodi
  • FLPRITE District Student Paper Award ―John Kodi

The student team members of the meeting also included Samia Akter, Melike Inam, Francisca Kasubi and Abdallah Kinero.

Mamun, a Ph.D. Nominee and President of the FIU ITE Chapter, received the first place poster award for his research on how connected and automated vehicles will impact road mobility and safety. While the student organization works on a specific initiative each year, it also offers valuable professional development.

“I’ve heard from great people in the industry and improved my own presentation skills,” he said. “It really boosted my confidence,” added Muman.

Through regular networking events, FIU ITE has invited guest speakers on everything from traffic simulation and cyber resilience to career opportunities. The group also conducts outreach and education. Last year, ITE members, in partnership with the FIU Women’s Transportation Seminar, provided eight nearby elementary schools with educational materials on bike and pedestrian safety and hosted a bike/walk to school day.

“We tried to encourage parents to walk or bike to school with their kids and give them safe routes,” Kodi said. “We also held an event on pedestrian and bicycle safety at the FIU’s Engineering Center and provided tips to students and faculty.”

John L. Volakis, Dean of the CEC, said that the FIU ITE student chapter is shaping the transportation professionals of tomorrow.

“They are working on initiatives that make our transportation systems safer and more efficient,” he said. “Congratulations to Dr. Alluri and her students.”