Student Spotlight: GaTech's Atiyya Shaw

Atiyya ShawAtiyya Shaw is a 1st year Ph.D. student at the Georgia Institute of Technology (GaTech) who is working on a combined Master’s/Ph.D. Civil Engineering program. Shaw has been a faithful GaTech student from the beginning, starting out as a double major in Economics and Environmental Engineering for her undergraduate work, but soon changed her field of study to Civil Engineering.

“In Environmental Engineering, there were lots of transportation projects which I really enjoyed working on,” Shaw said. “I was able to see the tangible impacts in transportation engineering, like the drastic improvements that airports and improved roads could bring to small towns. I liked seeing the positive impacts on communities.”

Once Shaw received her bachelor’s degree in Civil engineering, she began a combined masters/Ph.D. program in the same field. She was able to continue working on a project started during her undergraduate years, called Factors influencing Visual Search in Complex Driving Environments. Human factors elements in engineering resonated with her, and led into STRIDE project Distracted Driving - It is not always a choice (STRIDE project #2013-062S) with her faculty advisor Dr. Michael Hunter.

“A typical challenge of these types of projects is collecting data from people,” Shaw said. “The data inevitably ends up with numerous nuances and distributions that must be carefully teased out in analysis. It’s an interdisciplinary gap that’s demanding, but rewarding to work towards bridging.”

Shaw recently received several awards, including a 2015 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, the 2014 Helene M. Overly Memorial Scholarship from WTS, and was named an International Road Federation fellow. She is excited about the opportunities these fellowships will provide in allowing her to explore her research projects outside of their original scopes.

“Transportation as a field of study gives you the ability to really make a difference,” Shaw said. “More than half of the world population lives in cities, and the quality of life is dependent on transportation. It’s very fulfilling and exciting.”

Shaw expects to finish her MS/Ph.D. program in 2018.