CTR PhD Candidate Wins 2014 SWUTC Student Award
The Southwest Region University Transportation Center (SWUTC) recently announced the winners in the 2014 SWUTC Student Awards competition, and a CTR student was one of the lucky four.
Meredith Cebelak, a transportation engineering student and CTR graduate research assistant, is the winner of the Dr. William J. Harris Award for Outstanding PhD Student. Meredith’s advisor, Dr. Mike Walton, nominated her for the award. Meredith specializes in intelligent transportation system (ITS) solutions to transportation problems; her dissertation concerns applications of big data (a term used to describe the exponential growth and availability of data from social networking sites and check-in apps). Her innovative work involving smartphone check-in apps to analyze travel behavior was recognized at the Eno Center for Transportation’s Leadership Development Conference in Washington, DC.
Meredith notes technologies such as GPS and location-based social networks allow engineers to quickly obtain a great deal of data that used to require pen-and-paper surveys and years of observation and tracking. She enjoys the increasingly multidisciplinary nature of engineering, as cross-specialty projects are now encouraged or even required. Another aspect of her field she finds exhilarating is the need to stay ahead of the technology curve, as engineers develop ever-more creative solutions to infrastructure problems.
The SWUTC student awards were established at the Texas A&M University System in October 1988. Presented annually by the SWUTC, each award comes with a $1,000 cash prize. UT’s Dr. Zhanmin Zhang, a member of the selection committee, noted that “I’m very proud of Meredith’s accomplishments and know that she will represent us well.”