Student Spotlight: Samaneh Khazraeian, Ph.D. Student at FIU

Samaneh Khazraeian, a Ph.D. civil engineering student at Florida International University (FIU), is ready to turn transportation chaos into organized circulation.

Living in the Iranian capital of Tehran, Khazraeian witnessed huge crowds moving all day long.  “Circulation in big cities, especially at peak hours, is chaos,” Khazraeian said. “The lack of expertise in these cities is evident of such a situation.” 

Samaneh giving a speech during the South Florida WTS scholarship luncheon.

Khazraeian was not initially familiar with transportation engineering, but once introduced, wanted to make the world a better place by solving transportation problems. While completing her transportation engineering master’s degree at the Iran University of Science and Technology, she was ranked first among her peers in her studies and won a Distinctive Student Award in 2011. As a doctoral student at FIU, she has won additional awards, but most recently the 2015 Helene M. Overly Memorial Scholarship from the South Florida Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS), as well as an FIU scholarship award.

“Receiving awards are a great incentive to work harder,” Khazraeian said. “Presenting posters and attending conferences inspire me to continue my work in transportation. I’ve seen a lot of professionals at meetings that make me think about being an engineer and leader at the same time.”

When Khazraeian entered FIU in 2013, STRIDE project “Dynamic Traffic Control Interventions for Enhanced Mobility and Economic Competitiveness” was her first undertaking (FIU is a member of the STRIDE consortium). She conducted extensive literature review of ATM strategies, developed modeling framework and evaluation algorithms, and developed an adaptive fuzzy ramp metering algorithm to implement in the HCM. Her work on the STRIDE project finished this spring, so she is shifting her focus and working on a connected vehicle project. Working with connected vehicles has always been a dream of hers, as she believes vehicular technology over next 20 years will have almost all cars connected. She credits her advisor Dr. Mohammed Hadi with her wonderful project opportunities. 

“Having a good advisor is the most important factor in my Ph.D. student life,” Khazraeian said. “Dr. Hadi is more my mentor, or a team member, rather than an advisor. Before assigning projects, he discusses framework and takes into account our interests.” 

Samaneh and others presenting FIU's STRIDE project in the 2015 UTC conference.

Another important opportunity Khazraeian garnered at FIU was being president of WTS. She had not experienced student chapters before, as Iran did not have them. She attributes the chapter as being the most valuable lesson she received in her Ph.D. life: being able to envision herself as a leader.  

“Being a good engineer is not enough, you need to be able to lead people as well to make a difference,” she said. “I recommend everyone join a student chapter and accept responsibility. Utilize the moments to improve your skills during this short time in your life. You may not get this after your grad life.”

Khazraeian is undecided as to on her path after graduation. “Lots of cities in the U.S. are suffering from traffic problems,” Khazraeian said. “Even in Miami, it’s really an impossible mission to go through, so I may stay here a little bit then I’ll see.”