Student Spotlight: Kristie Chin
Name: Kristie Chin
Hometown: Katy, Texas
Current position: Graduate Research Assistant to Dr. C. Michael Walton
Hobbies: In my free time I enjoy playing sand volleyball, cooking, and serving as President of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Student Chapter. At the TexITE Fall District Meeting in San Antonio, the organization was recently recognized as the Texas District Collegiate Traffic Bowl Winner and awarded the Outstanding Student Chapter of 2015 for its role in establishing the TexITE Student Leadership Summit.
Recent News: Received the Dr. Robert Herman Award to the Most Outstanding Student and will be designated the SWUTC Student of the Year
Where were you before you came to pursue your graduate degree at UT?
Previously, I graduated from the University of Notre Dame’s Master’s of Architecture program where I had the opportunity to study abroad in Rome, Italy. During my studies, I traveled throughout Europe—including Bologna, Paris, and London—researching the classical architecture and urban design of historic universities. In 2011, I graduated from Brown University with dual Sc.B./A.B. degrees in civil engineering and architectural studies.
How did you become interested in transportation engineering?
Through a series of architecture, engineering, and public policy internships, I came to understand the inherent connections between the transportation network and urban environment. My work with the Holy Rosary Institute in Lafayette, Louisiana confirmed that engineering and design both contribute to the economic vitality and strength of a community. To facilitate the complex decision making processes required to bring urban projects to fruition, I wanted to further my ability to contextualize technical information in meaningful ways and improve stakeholder engagement.
Why did you decide to pursue your graduate studies here at UT?
The graduate program at UT offers a unique and extensive network of expertise. The transportation engineering faculty are extremely knowledgeable and serve as mentors for my career development. The facilities and staff at CTR are also performing state of the art research. Furthermore, my research has provided me the opportunity to work with thought leaders in government, industry, and other research institutions. For example, CTR recently hosted U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx in a roundtable discussion regarding D-STOP’s high-dimensional data management programs and the Texas Technology Task Force’s emerging technology portfolio. Located in the capital of Texas, the program is well positioned to impact state and national initiatives.
What kind of work are you doing here? What role are you are playing in the research, and what are your responsibilities?
Currently, I am a Graduate Research Assistant to the Texas Technology Task Force (TTTF)—a strategic initiative with TxDOT to define the vision for the future of Texas transportation systems. Guided by Dr. C. Michael Walton, our research team works closely with a group of experts in identifying emerging technologies, analyzing their impacts, and developing key strategies for the advancement and integration of critical technologies. Now entering the next phase of the project, we are focusing on the development of a Strategic Technology Business Plan that will outline recommendations for differentiating Texas as a leader in the promotion of emerging technologies.
What got you interested in this field?
While working for the City of South Bend, Indiana, I was part of the SBStat Performance Management Team. It was our mission to enhance the efficacy of all departments by offering strategic planning, technological development, and community engagement services. As a project lead, I developed visualization tools and led workshops to address the disconnects between different public agencies and between the City and its neighborhoods. This experience fueled my interest in the transportation field as a way to foster collaboration, encourage innovation, and empower citizens to improve mobility in their communities.