India’s top engineering college honors Peeta as distinguished alumnus

Frederick R. Dickerson Chair Srinivas Peeta (Photo: Luke Xinjing Xu)

Srinivas Peeta’s career trajectory has not gone unnoticed at his undergraduate college.

The institution has named him a Distinguished Alumnus, an award reserved each year for a small handful of graduates from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras. Just 159 alumni have been recognized in the award’s nearly 25-year existence.

“Many [alumni] are innovative leaders in the U.S. in industry and academia. To be selected as a distinguished alumnus from among such a cohort is at once humbling and satisfying,” said Peeta, the Frederick R. Dickerson Chair in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “In many ways, the formative platform for my future career was based on my educational experience at IIT Madras.”

The university typically admits less than 1 percent of the more than 1 million applicants each year, Peeta said, and “I was fortunate to be in the midst of brilliant peers in a highly competitive academic environment at IIT Madras.”

Peeta spent more than two decades at Purdue University before joining the Georgia Tech faculty in August, where he is also a professor in the Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering. He’s widely recognized for his work in predicting traffic conditions and helping drivers make better decisions on the road — a research area called dynamic traffic assignment. He has developed software that helps federal transportation officials plan and manage the nation’s highways.

Peeta studies transportation systems in the context of all the connections those systems have to other critical infrastructure, like energy, water, telecommunications and more. He also uses an advanced driving simulator to understand how drivers think and process information, including correlating brain activity and eye movement to what drivers say they do behind the wheel.

“My undergraduate experience at IIT Madras opened my eyes to the world-class U.S. higher education programs and opportunities to learn from and perform research with some of the best minds in the world,” Peeta said. “I recollect that it clarified for me my interest in transportation engineering, especially in terms of opportunities for analytical thinking and applying operations research techniques.”