Student Spotlight: Ehsan Jafari
Name: Ehsan Jafari
Hometown: Kerman, Iran
Current position: Graduate Research Assistant
Hobbies: Hiking, biking, traveling, reading
Where were you before you came to pursue your graduate degree at UT?
I completed my undergraduate studies at University of Kerman, Iran in 2007 and received my Master’s degree from University of Tehran, Iran 2010, both in Electrical Engineering. In August 2011, I joined Dr. Mark Hickman’s research group at University of Arizona, and in 2013 received my Master’s degree in Civil Engineering, specialized in transportation. I joined Network Modeling Center at the University of Texas at Austin in May 2013 and began working with Dr. Stephen Boyles as a graduate research assistant in fall 2013.
How did you become interested in transportation engineering?
Traveling and congestion is a non-separable part of our daily life, and as a transportation engineer, I have a chance to make a positive impact on travel quality and safety of people. But how I came to this understanding and wanted to be a transportation engineer is quite a unique story. I received my BSc and MSc degrees both in electrical engineering. During my Masters research in electrical engineering, I participated in a conference on transportation science in Iran and noticed the major impacts that transportation plans and management strategies can have on our daily life. Traffic was a major issue there, it had always been there, but my brief introduction to transportation field changed the way I saw traffic and congestion. Rather than seeing issues and complaining about them, I saw the opportunities for positive impact on traffic challenges. This was enough for me to do my masters’ thesis on intelligent transportation systems. To deepen my understanding from transportation engineering, I received my second MSc degree in transportation engineering from University of Arizona. Immediately after that, I registered at the University of Texas at Austin to pursue my PhD in transportation engineering.
Why did you decide to pursue your graduate studies here at UT?
The outstanding role of University of Texas at Austin in development of Transportation Engineering as well as its honored faculty, strong research facilities, and high quality research groups with strong publications motivated me to apply for a PhD position. My contact with Dr. Boyles and his encouragement further convinced me that this program is the right one for me.
What kind of work are you doing here? What role are you are playing in the research, and what are your responsibilities?
I have worked under supervision of Dr. Boyles as a graduate research assistant. The focus of my doctoral dissertation is on transportation network modeling and design. The prominent contribution of my current work is development of distributed network modeling and design techniques that suit large-scale interdisciplinary planning and design applications. Currently, I’m working on a project to enhance the consistency between the statewide and regional planning models for the state of Texas. In another exciting ongoing research project, I’m collaborating on developing computationally efficient solution algorithms for non-additive network optimization and assignment models.
In addition, I have worked on developing on-line and off-line routing algorithms for electric vehicles in stochastic networks, and also designing pricing algorithms to manage the charging demand of this class of vehicles. As part of my work at the Network Modeling Center at CTR in 2013, I developed a bi-level approach for centroid connector placement for dynamic traffic assignment models.
After you finish your studies here, what next?
After finishing my PhD in Summer 2017, I plan to stay active in research. Right now I’m applying for research faculty positions, and at the same time I’m searching for transportation companies pursuing research and development to offer innovative solutions at highest level to their customers.