Graduate Profile: Jake Gutekunst, M.S.
Hometown: Plano, Texas
Receiving: Masters in Civil Engineering
Advisor: Dr. Randy Machemehl
Area of research: Intersection modeling for dynamic traffic assignment; pavement maintenance strategies
How does it feel to be graduating?
It’s exciting because I have a job lined up at Kimley-Horn and Associates (or KHA) that I’ll start in January, and I’m looking forward joining the workforce and focusing on applied, project-based engineering.
Why did you choose to pursue your graduate studies at UT Austin?
I received my bachelors in engineering from UT in 2013 and really enjoyed Dr. Machemehl’s classes as an undergrad. The prestige associated with the Cockrell School of Engineering was also a big draw, as it is a top-ranked school.
Looking back, what (or who) influenced you the most during your time at UT Austin?
The two professors who most influenced me during the graduate period were Dr. Machemehl, in his role as my advisor, and Dr. Stephen Boyles. I learned a lot from all my professors, but those two imparted valuable principles that can be applied outside the classroom. Dr. Machemehl in particular gave me some great advice on building a career in engineering.
What projects did you work on while you were here?
Most recently I’ve been working on an “Early Warning System” for the Texas Department of Transportation that will help TxDOT perform preventative maintenance on those farm roads that are taking a heavy hit from the oil industry. Those rural roads weren’t designed to handle the heavy equipment and water trucks used in fracking, so we’re designing a system to use available data, such as permitting databases, to get ahead of the damage.
My master’s thesis was on intersection modeling in dynamic traffic assignment modeling, a specialty at CTR, which really forced me to stretch and get through a lot of technical material.
What are your plans after graduation?
In addition to starting a new job in traffic operations and transportation planning, I’m also getting married in January. We are staying in Austin and my fiancée is finishing her master’s degree in May.