By Adrienne Sylver
A healthy obsession with traffic ―and a focus on leadership and professional development ―is what’s behind the success of FIU’s student chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (FIU ITE). The group recently received the Best Student Chapter award at the 2022 Florida Puerto Rico District ITE (FLPRITE) annual meeting in St. Augustine. In addition, several members were recognized with individual honors.
“With about 10 active student chapters in the district from universities such as the University of Florida, Florida State University, University of Central Florida and Florida Atlantic University, it is very competitive. I’m so proud of our students,” said Priyanka Alluri, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at FIU's College of Engineering and Computing (CEC) and the club’s faculty advisor.
Particularly noteworthy at this year’s conference, she said, was the recognition that FIU’s program produces students prepared for high-level positions in the field.
“I was especially thrilled when the keynote speaker, from ITE International, told the audience that he had just hired two recent FIU graduates at the international level. When he needs to hire, he knows where to come," Alluri said.
The FIU ITE student chapter tackles specific transportation concerns each year.
“We try to solve real-world problems. That could be improving pedestrian or bicycle safety, highway lighting or signage, studying the different types of barriers used in Florida’s express lanes or researching why wrong-way accidents occur,” Alluri said.
An expert in transportation safety who has led numerous traffic safety studies as principal investigator, Alluri understands Florida’s unique problems. High traffic volumes, distracted drivers, roadways constantly under construction and frequent traffic pattern changes provide plenty of opportunities to make roadways safer.
In addition to the Best Student Chapter award, FIU students were also recognized at the FLPRITE meeting. Those honored were:
- First place, Student Poster Competition ― Md Mahmud Hasan Mamun
- Third place, Student Poster Competition ― Jimoku Hinda Salum
- The William R. McGrath FLPRITE District Transportation Scholarship ― John Kodi
- FLPRITE District Student Paper Award ―John Kodi
Student team members at the meeting also included Samia Akter, Melike Inam, Francisca Kasubi and Abdallah Kinero.
Mamun, a Ph.D. candidate and the president of the FIU ITE chapter, received the first-place poster award for his research on how connected and automated vehicles will impact traffic mobility and safety. While the student organization works on a specific initiative each year, it also provides valuable professional development.
“I’ve gotten to hear from amazing people in the industry and improved my own presentation skills,” he said. “It has really boosted my confidence," Muman added.
Through regular networking events, FIU ITE has brought in guest speakers on everything from traffic simulation and cyberattack resilience to career opportunities. The group also performs community outreach and education. Last year, in collaboration with FIU Women’s Transportation Seminar, ITE members provided eight nearby elementary schools with educational materials on bike and pedestrian safety and held a Bike/Walk to School Day.
“We tried to encourage parents to walk or bike with their kids to school and gave them safe routes to take,” Kodi said. “We also held a pedestrian and bike safety event at the Engineering Center at FIU and gave tips to students and faculty.”
John L. Volakis, dean of CEC, said the FIU ITE student chapter is molding tomorrow’s transportation professionals.
“They are working on initiatives that will make our transportation systems safer and more efficient,” he said. “Congratulations to Dr. Alluri and her students."