March 2017 Newsletter

What’s new in CEE?

Graduate students are the hands, arms, eyes, ears, and legs of CEE when it comes to research and teaching. Accordingly, the goal of the monthly newsletter will be to share information about grad-related matters and also celebrate the achievement of our graduate students; thereby creating a stronger “community of scholars”. If you have professional news  (e.g., papers accepted, thesis/dissertation milestones achieved, or conferences attended, or fellowships received) or noteworthy news (e.g., getting engaged, having a baby), please email it to cee-grad@virginia.edu!


Grad Recruitment Weekend: THANK YOU!

CEE hosted nearly twenty-five diverse, highly-qualified prospective MS and PhD candidates during its Graduate Recruitment and Visitation Weekend, Feb 23-26. We received many compliments about the friendliness, organization, and overall effectiveness of our visit experience. Accordingly, we owe a huge THANKS to everyone who made this possible:

  • To Gail Moruza, Shraddha Prajaraj, and Erin Robartes — for chairing the weekend, including organizing student activities and facilitating the overall visit experience!
  • To current graduate students — for participating in activities on Thurs-Sun, presenting posters on Fri afternoon, and generally making us look good for the visiting prospective students!
  • To Peggy Gibson, Kim Allen, Karen Sleezer, and Pat Gibson — for organizing administrative details related to admissions, travel and accommodations, lunch, and other matters!
  • To Tony Singh and Keegan Gumbs — for organizing lab tours and the wonderful Grad Research Symposium at Slaughter Recreation Center!
  • To Professor Jim Smith and his wife Gail — for opening their home to the visitors for a lovely dinner on Friday evening.
  • To all faculty, staff, and others who met with students and represented our department so well.

Admitted students will have until April 15 to inform us whether they will come to UVA. Ten applicants — a mix of ME, MS, and PhDs — have already accepted our offers. Hopefully this trend will continue. Thanks again to everyone who contributed to making graduate admissions and recruitment such a resounding success!


Results from the Grad Research Symposium

CEE was pleased and proud to host its third annual Graduate Research Symposium on Friday, February 24, as part of the Graduate Recruiting Weekend. This event featured fourteen current CEE graduate students presenting posters related to their ongoing MS and PhD research. This year’s presenters were: Qiang Chen, Lian Cui, Mehrdad Dijazi, Nancy Dutta, Kassandra Grimes, Courtney Hill, Seongah Hong, Di Kang, Ryan Mahon, Gina O’Neil, Daniel Plattenberger, Erin Robartes, Muhammad Sherif, and Thomas Williams. The quality of the presenters was excellent, truly capturing the depth and breadth of cutting-edge CEE research at UVA. Congratulations and thank you to all presenters!

The event was judged by CEE faculty, including: Professors Andres Clarens, Teresa Culver, Jose Gomez, Leidy Klotz, Brian Park, Lisa Peterson, Brian Smith, and Kuo Tian. They awarded first-place honors to Erin Robartes and second-place honors to Seongah Hong. These students will receive $300 and $100 gift cards, respectively. This year’s “people’s choice” honors went to Muhammad Sherif (pictured below), based on a popular vote of event attendees. He will receive a $50 gift card. Congratulations to all of our honorees, and thank you to our judges!

Finally, thank you to all faculty, staff, and students who attended the event. Hopefully everyone agrees that it was a wonderful opportunity to learn about what’s going on in our community of scholars. Extra special thanks to Keegan Gumbs and his graduate student helpers for their hard work and excellent facilitation of this event!



CEE PhD student will compete in 3MT!

CEE PhD candidate Mohamad Alipour has qualified as a finalist for UVA’s 5th-Annual Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition.This is a fun and fast-paced event, challenging doctoral students to describe their dissertation research in three minutes or less for a general audience. 3MT celebrates the discoveries made by research students and encourages them to communicate the importance of their research to the broader community. Nearly $3000 in cash prizes will be awarded to winners!

This year’s event will be held on Wednesday, March 1 at 3 pm in the Special Collections Auditorium. CEE personnel are encouraged to attend and support Mohamad. More information is available here.


CEE’s Mohamad Alipour will present “Citizen Engineer: Crowd-Sourced Data Analytics as an Infrastructure Monitoring Solution” as part of UVA’s Three-Minute Thesis Competition on March 1.


Best wishes for a safe, restorative Spring Break!


Have you recently had a paper accepted, or do you have other professional or personal news that you’d like to share?
Email it to cee-grad@virginia.edu!

Hao Sun: Harnessing Data Analytics and Computational Models in Structural Monitoring

Wednesday, March 1st
10:45 – Noon, Rice Hall Room 242

Link Lab Seminar

Hao Sun
Postdoctoral Associate
Civil and Environmental Engineering, MIT

Abstract

In recent years, advances in informatics and data science have assisted engineers to tackle structural dynamics problems. For example, health monitoring of structure and infrastructure systems has become a successful paradigm, as a valuable source of information for evaluating structural integrity and reliability throughout the lifecycle of structures as well as ensuring optimal maintenance planning and operation. Important development in sensor, computer and data analytics technologies made it possible to process big amount of data, to mine characteristic features, and to link those to the current structural conditions. In this presentation, I will talk about harnessing data analytics and computational models to tackle structural monitoring issues, through signal processing, identification, inference, computational modeling and uncertainty quantification. This talk will mainly discuss a typical topic on “combined data analytics and computational models for building monitoring” to show the basic concept. Deconvolution interferometry is employed for processing the vibration data, extracting wave propagation information and thus identifying structural characteristics. The extracted waves are then used for parameter uncertainty quantification of a computational model within the framework of hierarchical Bayesian inference. The presented methodologies can be used to process and mine big monitoring data for a real time operating system, and show a great potential in assessing structural integrity leading to a “smart structure management system”.

About the speaker:

Hao Sun has been a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT since September 2014. He obtained his Ph.D. (2014) and M.Phil. (2013) degrees in Engineering Mechanics and M.S. (2011) degree in Civil Engineering all from Columbia University, after he completed his B.S. degree in Civil Engineering at Hohai University in 2010. He has an interdisciplinary background in both engineering and data science. His research interests include resilient and intelligent structures, advanced sensing, data analytics and inverse computational mechanics for structural monitoring. He has been a lead researcher for multiple research projects and published 18 papers in prestigious peer-reviewed journals. He also has been a Teaching Fellow co-instructing an undergraduate subject at MIT and served as a Teaching Assistant for over ten graduate and undergraduate classes in civil engineering and engineering mechanics at Columbia. Dr. Sun is the receipt of several scholarships and awards, such as two poster competition awards from EMI 2014, Boeing Fellowship, NSF Workshop Travel Award, China National Merit Scholarship, and China Civil Engineering Society Citation for Outstanding College Graduate.

For more information, please see this flyer.

The Link Lab seminar series is open to the University community and region.
This seminar is hosted by Professor Devin Harris.

See EVENTS for seminar details at www.cee.virginia.edu/calendar/

 

Ph.D. Proposal Presentation of Seongah Hong: Development and Evaluation of Optimal Traffic Control Strategies for Environmental Sustainability

Wednesday, March 1st
3:00 – 4:30 PM, Room 200, Wilsdorf Hall

The Ph.D. Proposal Presentation of Seongah Hong candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Civil and Environmental Engineering), will be held Mar 1st, 3-4:30 PM in Room 200, Wilsdorf Hall.  The examining committee consists of Dr. Brian Smith (Chairperson), Dr. Byungkyu Brian Park (Advisor), Dr. Donna Chen, Dr. Michael Fontaine, and Dr. Laura Barnes (System Engineering).  All interested parties are invited to attend.

Title: Development and Evaluation of Optimal Traffic Control Strategies for Environmental Sustainability

Abstract

There exists a gap between the academic achievements of traffic control strategies and what is deployed in the field. Even though state-of-the-art control algorithms have been improved with various control approaches, those control algorithms were not often realized on the field due to their computational inefficiencies thus the real-time application was not feasible. In fact, one of the key features of the state-of-the-art of traffic control algorithms is the proactive control algorithms. The proactive control algorithms find the solution for the impending traffic conditions estimated by a macroscopic traffic flow model, so that the traffic congestion can be systemically prevented before they even occur. Through many studies, such proactive control algorithms proved their effectiveness in terms of mobility and safety. However, the computational inefficiency entailed by handling complex dynamic models and model calibrations impeded real-time implementation in the field.  In addition, even though the proactive approach contributed to improved performances over the pre-existing algorithms, it only guaranteed near-optimality, since the complexities of the control model only allow the use of heuristic searching method for the optimization problem.

In the meantime, many studies started to consider environmental impacts in developing control algorithms with continuously increasing concerns on energy consumptions and emissions. The availability of high-resolution individual vehicle trajectory data even supported such kinds of studies. However, it is interesting to notice that the control strategy which explicitly considers the environmental impacts is still very lacking. While fulfilling the environmental sustainability needs as well as considering the limitations of the existing traffic control algorithms, this research proposes an analytical approach-based control strategies with an objective of fuel consumptions minimization. The key merits of the proposed optimal control algorithm are: (1) it optimizes the fuel consumptions;(2) it guarantees true optimal strategy; and (3) it is computationally efficient.

This research comprises of two parts. In the Part 1, I propose to develop an optimal control algorithm framework using Pontryagin’s Minimum Principle (PMP) and apply it under various traffic control applications such as speed harmonization, ramp control and intersection control. It is important to mention that I assume perfect ideal scenario such as 100% Automated Vehicles (AVs) with perfect compliance. The evaluation results allow us to assess the greatest benefit that can be achieve out of the optimal control algorithm. In the Part 2, the optimal control algorithm will be implemented onto various scenarios and settings. I propose to consider network-wide operations comprising of multiple traffic control applications developed in the Part 1. In addition, I plan to expand the speed harmonization algorithm for various imperfect market penetrations. The effectiveness of the proposed algorithm will be comprehensively evaluated by comparing to the base case of human drivers as well as to the existing state-of-the-art algorithm. The factors affecting to the traffic performance including traffic volumes will also be considered. The lessons learned from Part 2 will help to understand the effects of the optimal control algorithm in various scenarios (e.g., combined effects upon the network-wide operations, or induced effects upon the following human driven vehicles for various market penetrations.

Marta Gonzalez: Data Science for Energy Efficiency of Cities

Monday, February 27th
10:45 – Noon, Rice Hall Room 242

Link Lab Seminar

Marta Gonzalez
Associate Professor
Civil and Environmental Engineering, MIT

Abstract

I will cover the use of large data sets as a byproduct of human activity and how they can be used to help us to characterize energy demand to plan for the better usage of our resources.

In the first part, I address the congestion of roads. Billions of spatiotemporal call detail records (CDRs) collected from mobile devices create new opportunities to quantify and solve problems of congestion. However, there is a need for tools to map the new data meaningful onto the existing transportation infrastructure. First, I present the TimeGeo mobility framework to mine billions of calls and learn location transition probabilities of phone users. These transition probabilities are then up-scaled with demographic data to estimate origin-destination (OD) flows of residents between any two intersections of a city. I demonstrate that the percentage of time lost in congestion is a function of the proportion of vehicular travel demand to road infrastructure capacity, and can be studied in the framework of non-equilibrium phase transitions. This framework allows us to compare the feasibility of smart routing applications in five diverse cities.

In the second part, I evaluate the benefit of various electricity tariffs based on the profiles of electric consumption. We model energy consumption at urban scale from records of energy bills and smart meters’ data. The method entails the interplay between behavioral variables of residential energy consumption and the differences in economic benefits with the adoption of solar panels with and without batteries. Further, I study the coupling between power and transportation infrastructures through electric vehicles (EVs) charging. I couple estimates of EVs mobility with charging session data for the San Francisco Bay Area. I present various charging schemes and the impact of their arrival times, proposing a shifting of the charging activity to shave peak power load. Substantial savings are achievable based in our recommendations.

About the speaker:

Marta C. Gonzalez is Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Director, Human Mobility and Networks Lab.

She left Venezuela where she grew up to pursue a PhD in Computational Physics in Stuttgart Universitaet, as a selected fellow of the DAAD, the German agency for students’ exchange. Next, she moved to the U.S. to do a postdoc in the Barabasi Lab and initiated the study of patterns of human mobility with a complex systems’ perspective.  She is currently Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT, joint with the Operations Research Center and the Center for Advanced Urbanism. With support from several companies, cities and foundations from around the world, her research team develops computational models to analyze digital traces of device-mediated interaction and to explore the use of urban infrastructures in relation to energy and mobility.  Recent research uses billions of mobile phone records to understand the emergence of traffic gridlocks and the integration of electric vehicles in the power grid, records of smart meter data to compare policy of solar energy adoption, and credit card transactions to identify habits in spending behavior. Her research has been published in leading journals, including Science, PNAS, Nature and Physical Review Letters.

For more information, please see this flyer.

The Link Lab seminar series is open to the University community and region.
This seminar is hosted by Professor Jon Goodall.

See EVENTS for seminar details at www.cee.virginia.edu/calendar/

Jie Xiong: Pushing the Limits of Indoor Localization in Today’s Wi-Fi Networks

Friday, February 24th
10:45 – Noon, Rice Hall Room 242

Link Lab Seminar

Jie Xiong
Assistant Professor, School of Information Systems
Singapore Management University

Abstract

WiFi is ubiquitous nowadays and is playing an increasingly important role in our everyday lives. Traditionally, WiFi networks are mainly used for data communication. In recent years, WiFi signals

have been exploited for many exciting new applications including wireless health, elderly/patient monitoring, indoor navigation, gesture recognition, etc. One key component for the success of these applications is accurate tracking of movements. While GPS has achieved a great success in the outdoor environment, indoor tracking at a sub-meter granularity remains challenging due to a number of factors, including the presence of strong multipath reflections and the burden of deploying and maintaining additional tracking service infrastructure. The recent trend of dramatically increasing number of antennas and larger bandwidths at the WiFi access point, brings us unique opportunities to achieve fined-grained tracking performance. Two systems will be introduced in this talk. The first, ArrayTrack, is the first tracking system hosted on Wi-Fi infrastructure to achieve an accuracy below 30 cm. ToneTrack is another system, which breaks the bandwidth limit for time-based localization by combining information from adjacent channels.

About the speaker:

Jie Xiong is an Assistant Professor in School of Information Systems at Singapore Management University. He received the Ph.D from the Department of Computer Science, University College London, in 2015. He was awarded the prestigious Google European Doctoral Fellowship in Wireless Networking for his doctoral studies. His Ph.D thesis won the 2016 British Computer Society Distinguished Dissertation Award runner-up. He has broad research interests in building practical wireless and mobile systems that bridge the gaps between theory and reality. His recent work appears at INFOCOM ’17, MobiCom ’16, CoNEXT ’16, UbiComp ’16, MobiCom ’15, CoNEXT ’14 (Best Paper Award), MobiCom ’14, MobiCom ’13 and NSDI ’13. He received the M.Sc. and B.Eng. degrees from Duke University and Nanyang Technological University respectively.

For more information, please see this flyer.

The Link Lab seminar series is open to the University community and region.
This seminar is hosted by Professor Kamin Whitehouse.

See EVENTS for seminar details at www.cee.virginia.edu/calendar/

Dan Work: From mobile sensing to mobile actuation: How smarter vehicles are shaping what we know about urban traffic

Monday, February 20th
10:45 – Noon, Rice Hall Room 242

Link Lab Seminar

Dan Work
Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Abstract

Transportation systems are undergoing dramatic changes enabled by rapid advances in sensing and automation technologies increasingly integrated into the vehicle fleet. On the sensing side, GPS equipped taxis provide new opportunities to measure urban traffic at a scale and resolution that was not possible even a few years ago. We first present a method to estimate the traffic conditions from coarse GPS taxi data, and then provide a technique to detect outlier conditions observed during extreme events. The approach is implemented with data from nearly 700 million taxi trips collected over a four-year period in New York City, and allows new traffic dynamics in the aftermath of disasters to be discovered. On the actuation side, autonomous vehicles provide opportunities to serve as mobile actuators of the bulk traffic flow. We explore the problem of controlling predominantly human piloted traffic flows with only a small number of autonomous vehicles in the stream. To illustrate the concepts, we modify the experimental setting of Sugiyama et al. (2008) and measure the influence of a carefully controlled autonomous vehicle on human piloted vehicles. Even when the penetration rate of autonomous vehicles is as low as 5%, we show it is possible to eliminate the presence of stop-and-go waves that are observable in congested traffic today.

About the speaker:

Daniel Work is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (courtesy), and the Coordinated Science Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prof. Work earned his bachelor of science degree (2006) from the Ohio State University, and a master of science (2007) and Ph.D. (2010) from the University of California, Berkeley, each in civil engineering. Prior to joining the faculty at Illinois, Work was a research intern at Nokia Research Center, Palo Alto from 2008-2009, and a guest researcher at Microsoft Research Redmond in 2010. Prof. Work has research interests in transportation cyber physical systems, traffic modeling, and infrastructure data analytics. Prof. Work’s honors include participation in the National Academy of Engineering’s 2017 China US Frontiers of Engineering Symposium and the 2016 EU US Frontiers of Engineering Symposium, the UIUC CEE Excellence Faculty Fellow award (2016), the UIUC ASCE Outstanding Professor award (2015), and the NSF CAREER award (2014).

For more information, please see this flyer.

The Link Lab seminar series is open to the University community and region.
This seminar is hosted by Professor T. Donna Chen.

See EVENTS for seminar details at www.cee.virginia.edu/calendar/

Yongchao Yang: Full-field Imaging and Modeling of Structural Dynamics with Digital Video Camera Sensing

Friday, February 17th
10:45 – Noon, Rice Hall Room 242

Link Lab Seminar

Yongchao Yang
Director’s Postdoctoral Fellow
Engineering Institute at Los Alamos National Laboratory

Abstract

Civil structures are typically large-scale and exhibit complex behaviors under dynamic loads from operational environment (e.g., wind and traffic) as well as natural hazards (e.g., earthquakes and hurricanes) and man-made extreme events (e.g., impact and blast). High spatial and temporal resolution structural response (vibration) measurements and modeling are thus required for high-fidelity characterization, analysis, and prediction of the structure’s response. However, it is a significant challenge to obtain high-resolution structural vibration measurements using traditional techniques. For example, the widely-used accelerometers and strain-gauge sensors can only be placed at a limited number of places on the structure, providing low spatial resolution measurements. Laser vibrometers offer high-resolution measurements, but are expensive and make sequential measurements that are time-consuming. On the other hand, digital video cameras are relatively low-cost, agile, and provide remote, high spatial resolution, simultaneous, measurements where every pixel effectively becomes a measurement point on the structure.

A new full-field imaging method will be presented that enables the blind extraction and realistic visualization of the full-field, high-resolution, dynamics response of an operating structure from only its digital video measurements using video motion manipulation and unsupervised machine learning techniques. Its ability to improve a variety of structural engineering applications that traditionally have been difficult will also be shown, including detecting minute, non-visible structural damage and identifying full-field dynamic loads on the structure, both at a pixel resolution, and efficiently performing high-fidelity simulations of structural response. Laboratory experiments and real-world case studies will be demonstrated. Finally, a scalable digital video camera sensing and modeling framework is envisioned for high-resolution, wide-range infrastructure monitoring that could go beyond individual structures to infrastructure networks.

About the speaker:

Yongchao Yang is a Director’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Engineering Institute at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He obtained his Ph.D. from Rice University in 2014 and bachelor’s from Harbin Institute of Technology, China in 2010, both in civil engineering. His expertise is in experimental and computational mechanics, system modeling and identification, and structural health monitoring. He is particularly interested in developing new structural sensing/imaging and modeling methods, combining approaches from computer vision and machine learning. He is the author of about 20 international journal publications, 3 book chapters, and 2 patents. He was a recipient of the Best Paper Award of the United Nations International Conference on Sustainable Development (New York, 2015), and a winner of the TechCrunch Disrupt NY (New York, 2016). He mentored an undergraduate student winning a 2nd place in the student competition of the IEEE Resilience Week (Chicago, 2016).

For more information, please see this flyer.

The Link Lab seminar series is open to the University community and region.
This seminar is hosted by Professor Devin Harris.

See EVENTS for seminar details at www.cee.virginia.edu/calendar/

Bradley A. Striebig, Ph.D.: Engineering your future – Oh the places you will go!

Friday, February 17th
Noon, in Thornton Hall D221

Bradley A. Striebig, Ph.D.
Professor of Engineering
James Madison University

Engineering your future – Oh the places you will go!

Engineering education has created opportunities that are difficult to imagine for young women and men unfamiliar with potential that an engineering education can unlock. Dr. Striebig will introduce you to some of the engineering development heroes he has met in various locations on the planet during his career. The presentation will address sustainable development projects Dr Striebig has worked on in Benin, Kenya and Rwanda. In addition, Dr. Striebig will challenge the audience to consider their professional goals and present a plan to provide engineering opportunities for students at IUP.

Bio

Dr. Striebig is a founding member and professor in the Department of Engineering at James Madison University. He has over 25 years of experience in environmental engineering, having developed air treatment systems for the Department of Defense (DOD) and implemented water treatment technologies for communities in sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Striebig came to the JMU Department of Engineering from Gonzaga University where he developed the WATER program in Benin in cooperation with Dr. Susan Norwood. Dr. Striebig is also the former Head of the Environmental Technology Group at Penn State’s Applied Research Laboratory. Dr. Striebig is the lead author of Engineering Application in Sustainable Design and Development, published by Cengage Publishing in 2015.

Dr. Striebig holds a Ph.D in Environmental Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University, a M.S. in Environmental Systems Engineering from Clemson University, and a B.S. in Civil Engineering, also from the Pennsylvania State University. He has published his engineering scholarship in nearly one hundred works in numerous books, journals and magazines. His scholarship has been funded by the NSF, DOD, and numerous other state and private organizations. His professional photography work has also been published in books, magazines, and other publications. Dr. Striebig has received several awards, including the 2009 Bosscher Faculty Advisor Award for Outstanding Leadership from Engineers Without Borders-USA.

The Civil Engineering seminar series is open to the University community and region.
This seminar is hosted by Professor Lisa Colosi Peterson.

See EVENTS for seminar details at www.cee.virginia.edu/calendar/

Chris Melson: Hardware-in-the-loop Simulation and Testing of CAV Applications

Friday, February 10th
Noon, in Thornton Hall D221

Chris Melson, Research Civil Engineer
Turner Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC)

Hardware-in-the-loop Simulation and Testing of CAV Applications

The overall organization, roles, and main functions of Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will be presented.  The presentation will also include an overview of a current research effort at TFHRC: hardware-in-the-loop simulation and testing of connected automated vehicle (CAV) applications. Information regarding the many FHWA professional and student opportunities (Professional Development Program, Pathways Program, and Eisenhower Research Fellowship) will be presented – including first-hand experience by students currently working at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC).

Bio Sketch

Christopher Melson is a Research Civil Engineer at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC). He manages contracts and performs in-house research related to traffic analysis and modeling of future transportation technologies and strategies – with a focus on connected vehicle applications. He has worked at FHWA for 3 years. Christopher received his master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wyoming.

The Civil Engineering seminar series is open to the University community and region.
This seminar is hosted by Professor T. Donna Chen.

See EVENTS for seminar details at www.cee.virginia.edu/calendar/

A flyer for this presentation can be found here.

February 2017 Newsletter

What’s new in CEE?

Graduate students are the hands, arms, eyes, ears, and legs of CEE when it comes to research and teaching. Accordingly, the goal of the monthly newsletter will be to share information about grad-related matters and also celebrate the achievement of our graduate students; thereby creating a stronger “community of scholars”. If you have professional news  (e.g., papers accepted, thesis/dissertation milestones achieved, or conferences attended, or fellowships received) or noteworthy news (e.g., getting engaged, having a baby), please email it to cee-grad@virginia.edu!


Grad Recruitment Weekend: Feb 23-25

The graduate recruiting seasons is upon is, and planning is actively underway for this year’s SEAS-wide visitation and recruiting weekend, Feb 23-25. CEE received approximately 150 applications for ME, MS, and PhD degrees. We’ve made nearly 45 offers to MS and PhD applicants and invited nearly 30 prospective students to attend our visitation events. Roughly half of the invitees are already confirmed to attend, from a variety of top programs, including: Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Cornell, Georgia Tech, Morgan State, Notre Dame, and UVA, among others. We are very excited about the high quality and diversity of our admitted applicants, and we are eager to make a very good impression on our visitors!

Recruiting and retaining top-caliber graduate students is absolutely critical for advancing the research and teaching mission of our department and School. Accordingly, we hope that faculty, staff, and current graduate students will fully engage with the recruiting activities and take the time to make the recruits feel welcome. Special thanks to Ms. Peggy Gibson for her diligent efforts in getting the applicants processed and admitted, and also to our grad student recruiting chairs for this year: Gail Moruza, Erin Robartes, and Shraddha Praharaj.

Current graduate students should expect to receive additional information and requests for assistance from the chairs. For now, please consider attending the following department-wide events: an informal dinner with visiting students during the evening of Thursday, February 23; lunch in Observatory Hill Dining Hall from 12-1 pm on Friday, February 24; the CEE Graduate Research Symposium in Slaughter Recreation Center from 1-2:30 pm on Friday, February 24; and various social outings (e.g., Monticello, wineries, etc) on Saturday, February 25, as coordinated by the School and the Graduate Engineering Student Council (GESC).

Regarding the research symposium, this will be the third year for this event. All current MS and PhD students are eligible to present a poster, up to 1-2 persons per research group. Please talk with your adviser if you wish to be selected as a representative from your group. A reminder that cash prizes are awarded to the winners of the symposium, including: “People’s Choice” (as judged by all attendees), and also “Best Overall”, as selected by a panel of celebrity judges. The best overall poster is displayed for one year in a place of honor in Civil Commons. Last year’s winner was Rob Kluger, of Brian Smith’s research group.


CEE was pleased to welcome roughly 10 new grad students for the SP 2017 semester.

Our January Meet-and-Greet was a nice opportunity for new and returning students to catch up. Thank you to all who attended.


Update from GESC

Written by: Sarah Bauer


Two things for CEE grad students to know about ongoing GESC activities:

  • A save-the-date flyer for the University of Virginia Engineering Research Symposium (UVERS) is now available via GESC’s Facebook page. This event will be held Thursday, March 30 in Newcomb Hall. Stay tuned for email announcements regarding abstract submissions.
  • GESC will host a Student Mixer as part of the School’s recruiting efforts (see above). All current SEA graduate students are invited to help welcome the 2017 prospective grad students on Friday, February 24th from 7:30-9:30 PM at Boylan Heights on the Corner. There will be light refreshments and specials available. We hope to see you all there!


CEE Post-Doc David Kahler (right) participates in UVERS 2016. (Photo credit: UVA GESC.)


Looking for funding? Consider Double Hoo!

Graduate students in search of supplemental funding to support their research are encouraged to apply for UVA’s Double Hoo Awards. These grants are made to teams of one UVA graduate student plus one UVA undergraduate student, hence “double” Hoo. They are administered by the University’s Center for Undergraduate Excellence (CUE). The Center receives roughly 50 proposals per year, of which they fund 10-15. Applications are due by 12 pm on Monday, February 13. More information is available via the CUE website. Good luck to all applicants!


New procedures replace Plan of Study

CEE will no longer make use of the paper-based Plan of Study for graduate degree tracking. The new procedure will be entirely online, making use of the Academic Requirements Report (ARR) in SIS. MS and PhD students approaching degree milestones (e.g., qualifying exam, proposal defense, thesis/dissertation defense) should print out their ARR and bring it to the faculty committee to review during their deliberations. The committee chairperson will make notes on the report and/or sign it to indicate that the committee has reviewed and approved it. The signed version of the ARR should be submitted to Ms. Peggy Gibson, along with other pertinent forms. Milestone paperwork will NOT be filed with the School until a signed ARR has been received by departmental staff. This is meant to ensure that graduate students are talking with their adviser about degree trajectories and staying on track with their milestones. Please refer to the pertinent portions of the CEE website for additional details.


Good news from the TRN group

Great things have been happening in the transportation engineering group recently. Erin Robartes, a member of the Chen research group, gave a talk at the 10th University Transportation Centers Spotlight Conference on Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety, in December 2016. She presented her research “Virginia Automobile & Bicycle Crash Safety Analysis.”

Shraddha Praharaj was selected as a SEAS Teaching Intern for spring 2017. She is co-teaching CE 3400, Transportation Infrastructure Design, with her adviser, Professor Donna Chen. Students selected to participate in the SEAS graduate teaching internship program receive a fellowship for the semester of their internship and participate in meaningful teaching-related professional development activities.

Finally, Seongah Hong published her first paper, “Exploring Environmentally Sustainable Traffic Signal Warrant for Planning Application”, in the International Journal of Sustainable Transportation. This work was co-authored by former CEE PhD student Jia Hu and Seongah’s adviser Professor Brian Park. Seongah is a current recipient of CEE’s Mariana S. Hamilton Endowed Fellowship.

Please join us in congratulating these students on their tremendous accomplishments!


Erin Robartes presented at a UTC Spotlight Conference in December 2016.


Have you recently had a paper accepted, or do you have other professional or personal news that you’d like to share?
Email it to cee-grad@virginia.edu!