Four Tech women win WTS Atlanta scholarships and move on to national competition

Friday, November 9, 2018
Fourth-year civil engineering student Michelle Henriques
Third-year civil engineering student Susan Jin. (Photo: Joshua Stewart)
Ph.D. student Becca Kiriazes
Ph.D. student Abhilasha Saroj

Once again, women studying transportation engineering at Georgia Tech have swept the WTS Atlanta chapter scholarship competition. Now, they’ll each compete with other chapter winners from across the nation.

“It is the first scholarship that I ever got for the work I am doing in transportation,” said Susan Jin, a third-year civil engineering student who has been working with Professor James Tsai on an intelligent transportation systems project. “There were times where I felt like what I am doing would not be a valuable contribution to the community. Receiving this scholarship proves that what I am doing is acknowledged by people in the industry, and it gives me such a huge confidence and motivation in my studies.”

Jin received the Sharon D. Banks Memorial Scholarship for undergraduates. She was celebrated along with the other winners at a scholarship luncheon in late October. Fourth-year undergrad Michelle Henriques said she could feel a special energy and sense of community at the event.

“I pursued this scholarship because I believe building connections is an integral part of being a leader. I didn't always know that I wanted to study transportation engineering; it was the network of people I built throughout my college experience, both in and outside my studies, that helped me get to where I am proud to be today,” said Henriques, winner of the Molitoris Leadership Scholarship for Undergraduates. “Now more than ever it's important to me to be that person for others, whether that be in the form of a mentor, friend or classmate.”

WTS — originally known as Women’s Transportation Seminar — awards scholarships each year to help develop women who plan to pursue transportation careers and reward promising young engineers.

For Helene M. Overly Memorial Scholarship recipient Abhilasha Saroj, the support is a confidence-builder as she works to leverage the technology in Atlanta’s North Avenue Smart Corridor plus real-time simulations to create a “green corridor.”

“The WTS scholarship application process was an opportunity to reflect on my future career goals and motivation to pursue research in transportation engineering,” said Saroj, a fifth-year Ph.D. student in Michael Hunter’s research group. “In addition, I respect the work the WTS organization puts towards professional development of students at Georgia Tech.”

First-year Ph.D. student Becca Kiriazes echoed those sentiments.

“WTS is a great organization that advances women in transportation, so I was very excited to win the Maggie Walsh Leadership Legacy Scholarship. As a woman in the transportation field, it is motivating to know that I am supported by a network of other strong women leaders.”

Kiriazes’ studies with Olmsted Associate Professor Kari Watkins, focusing on navigation apps and how they’re changing our travel behavior. She said she’s looking forward to using some of her scholarship to travel and add a global flavor to her understanding of transportation systems.