Student Spotlight: Rahul Patel
Name: Rahul Patel
Hometown: Frisco, Texas
Current position: Graduate Research Assistant to Dr. Stephen Boyles
Hobbies: Anything outdoors, soccer, basketball, travel, hanging out with friends
Notable Honor: Named D-STOP’s 2017 Outstanding Student of the Year
Where were you before you came to pursue your graduate degree at UT?
I was an undergrad at UT also, majoring in Civil Engineering and working under Dr. Boyles as an undergraduate research assistant. I interned with a civil engineering firm called Kimley Horn during my summers in undergrad and decided to hold off on a full-time job to pursue my graduate degree at UT.
My dad is a civil engineer and actually has his own civil engineering/transportation consulting firm in Dallas, TX which introduced me to transportation. I’ve always liked civil engineering (maybe it’s in my DNA) and enjoyed my transportation classes during my undergraduate degree, however, my undergrad research in autonomous vehicle technology is what really got me excited to go into the field. Transportation is arguably one of the most important components of our infrastructure and daily lives, and to be able to quite possibly help lead/be a close part of our transportation system’s inevitable revolution was just too cool of an idea to not to be a part of it.
Why did you decide to pursue your graduate studies here at UT?
I completed my undergrad degree at UT so I already loved the campus, Austin is an amazing city, and UT had the best transportation program and professors with the most freedom and opportunities for interesting research.
What kind of work are you doing here? What role are you are playing in the research, and what are your responsibilities?
I am a Graduate Research Assistant here and am currently working on understanding the effects of autonomous vehicle technology and autonomous intersection management on transportation networks. Specifically, I am part of an AV TxDOT project under Dr. Boyles. I am currently simulating autonomous vehicles on large scale networks using a mesoscopic dynamic traffic assignment (DTA) model, and analyzing their effects on congestion. I am also simulating autonomous intersection control and finding its effect on network congestion. My general focuses in research include creating and experimenting with traffic simulation models and discovering new trends in autonomous vehicle behavior and optimal network design.
After you finish your studies here, what next?
After I finish my graduate degree at UT, I’m not exactly sure of where I will end up in terms of job descriptions, but I know that I want to go into the industry rather than pursue a PhD. I would like to work on the industry side of the autonomous vehicle space and possibly work in the tech industry if I like it, and in the civil/transportation consulting industry if I don’t.