Record Eight Students in CEE Earn Eisenhower Awards

The School of Civil and Environmental Engineering is pleased to annouce that eight transportation graduate students have won Eisenhower fellowships worth $195,000. Six doctoral students and two M.S. students were recently awarded the nationally competitive Eisenhower Fellowships to conduct transportation research. Doctoral students Tom Wall and Greg Macfarlane were awarded $69,500 multi-year fellowships. Doctoral students Josephine Kressner, Brittany Luken, John Patrick O'Har, and Brent Weigel received $11,500 awards. M.S. students Aaron Greenwood and Susan Hotle received $5,000 awards. This represents two new records for Georgia Tech. This is the first year that Georgia Tech has received two full Eisenhower awards. It is also the largest number of Eisenhower awards Georgia Tech has ever received in a single year (the previous record was six awards).

Thomas Wall is a doctoral student in transportation systems engineering at Georgia Tech.  Originally from Seattle, WA, Tom holds an Honors B.S. in civil engineering from Oregon State University and an M.S. in civil engineering from Georgia Tech.  His current research involves the development of risk-based policy and planning strategies to prioritize transportation infrastructure for adaptation to the likely impacts of climate change.  His goal is to develop an analysis tool that can be used by transportation agencies and infrastructure managers that enables more efficient strategic investment in local, regional, and national transportation infrastructure.

Tom is actively involved with the Georgia Tech chapters of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and Engineers Without Borders (EWB).  For the past two summers he has teamed with a local high school, helping to develop transportation modules for their introductory engineering class, and most recently mentoring high school students in a college engineering summer immersion program.  For the 2010-2011 academic year, Tom was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship by the U.S. State Department to study transportation and infrastructure adaptation strategies currently under development in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

Gregory Macfarlane is finishing his first year as a Ph.D. student in the Transportation Systems Engineering section of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He came to Atlanta and Georgia Tech from a job at the Utah Transit Authority in Salt Lake City. He and his wife Leslie are both Utah natives and alumni of Brigham Young University.

Greg first realized his passion for transportation network planning as a Latter-day Saint missionary serving in Singapore, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka. Although the missionaries typically rode bicycles for transportation, Greg observed how the adequacy of transportation networks in Southeast Asia directly impacted the quality of people’s lives. He saw how Singaporeans were able to use their efficient transit and highways systems to access jobs, get to school, and most importantly, get home to their families. He also saw the social cost incurred by families in Sri Lanka and poorer Malaysian cities who could not quickly or safely return home from work because the universal need for a safe and efficient transportation system had not been met.

Greg’s research at Georgia Tech is focused on the applications that confidential data records, such as those produced by government agencies or private companies, may have in transportation planning activities. He is seeking ways to use previously existing data to reduce the costs of regional transportation surveys. His other academic interests include automobile ownership patterns and policies, travel demand modeling, and transportation planning policy. Greg hopes to become a professor so that he can continue looking for better ways to improve the transportation field, and so that he can share his passion for good transportation with new generations of engineers.

Josie Kressner is a second-year doctoral student. She was recently named the 2011 recipient of the WTS International President's Legacy Scholarship. This scholarship recognizes women who demonstrate leadership in the transportation industry and a commitment to community service. Josie was recognized for her work in co-founding Revive Atlanta, a non-profit organization that seeks to convert underutilized properties into community assets, such as parks, edible community gardens, and playgrounds.

Among all of her accomplishments so far during her graduate studies at Georgia Tech, co-founding Revive Atlanta ( is the one she is proud of most. This organization is dedicated to transforming underutilized properties into valuable community assets. The organization has formed strong partnerships with several other organizations in the Atlanta area such as the Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., Trees Atlanta, the Trust for Public Land, Park Pride, Georgia Organics, Path Foundation, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, and various neighborhood associations.

Josie’s research investigates ways in which to use credit reporting data and other highly disaggregated data to model household movements over time, particularly in transit-oriented developments, and effectively quantify short- and long-term impacts of infrastructure investments on populations and communities. Most notably, she has received a President’s Fellowship from Georgia Tech and an Airport Cooperative Research Fellowship. Through her research into the people and neighborhoods of Atlanta at Georgia Tech, she will be able to enhance the breadth and depth of the impact of Revive Atlanta’s work and hopes that through these combined efforts she will make a lasting, positive impact on the quality of life for all individuals in Atlanta.

Brittany Luken is a third year PhD candidate in the Transportation Systems Group in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Brittany is concurrently pursuing a MS in Industrial Engineering. In 2009 she was one of ten students selected for an Airport Cooperative Graduate Research Fellowship. During her fellowship tenure Brittany investigated passenger's airport choice at a major US airline. She was given the opportunity to present her findings to the Aviation System Planning Committee of the Transportation Research Board this past January. This opportunity gave Brittany good perspective on which direction to take her research. Since the completion of this project, Brittany has developed a research plan that integrates her interests in aviation, consumer behavior, and operations research. Currently, she is investigating the feasibility of a flexible product being offered by the airline industry.

Brittany has a great passion for helping others. Consequently, she has balanced her coursework and research obligations with several outreach activities. She recently helped develop an interdisciplinary airport simulation project that demonstrates the complexities of owning an operating an airline. This module has been disseminated to a graduate and undergraduate class on airports, to high school students visiting Georgia Tech for the summer and is currently being incorporated into curriculum of a week-long summer camp she is organizing for high school students in collaboration with the Center for Education, Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing. She is also currently mentoring two undergraduate students this semester while they complete an independent study on learning how to use Statistical Analysis Software. She has also participated in Georgia Tech's Technology, Engineering, and Computing (TEC) Girl’s Camp, Scout’s Science Day at the Fernbank Museum and at an Architecture, Construction and Engineering (ACE) mentoring program.

Brittany is currently a National Science Foundation Fellow and was recently selected to attend the Eno Leadership Development Conference that will be held this summer in Washington, D.C.

J.P. O’Har has been at Georgia Tech for six years now. He received his B.S.C.E. in May of 2009 and began his graduate studies the following Fall. The summer prior to beginning his M.S. degree, J.P. worked as a student assistant under the supervision of Dr. Amekudzi and Dr. Meyer and helped develop an inventory of tools and databases at the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) that could be used in an asset management system. During the first semester of his M.S. J.P. was a teaching assistant for an undergraduate civil engineering systems course. While working with the students and helping them through the most challenging problems in the course, J.P. realized he wanted to pursue a Ph.D. so that one day he could be a professor and educate America’s next generation of civil engineers. He applied for and was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship in 2010.

J.P.’s proposed research includes developing a risk appraisal framework for vulnerable (to the impacts of climate change) transportation infrastructure assets, that uses existing transportation asset management systems, in order to provide a strategic platform for climate change-related investment decision making. His current research examines how risk can be incorporated into asset management systems to prioritize projects and set performance targets. J.P. also currently serves as President of Georgia Tech's Student Chapter of ITE (ITE at GT). Under his leadership, ITE at GT has continued to invite transportation professionals in as guest speakers, perform community service events, such as Habitat for Humanity, and organize social activities. When he is not tackling transportation problems J.P. enjoys playing, watching, and following soccer. His mother is originally from Spain and J.P. is still riding high on Spain’s 2010 World Cup Championship.

Brent Weigel is a third-year Ph.D. student with professional experience in both the freight railroading and architecture/engineering industries. As a graduate research assistant, Brent has worked with CEE faculty, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, and the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance to develop the Transit Greenhouse Gas Emissions Management Compendium, which will help transit agencies reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption.

On campus, Brent has served as VP of Outreach for the Georgia Tech Chapter of ITE, and is now serving as a Graduate Student Senator in student government. As a lead instructor, Brent has taught CEE 3000A Civil Engineering Systems, a core undergraduate civil engineering course. Brent’s work in education and research is motivated by a desire to development systems-thinking solutions to global sustainability challenges. Contributing to discussion on the theme of environment and climate change, Brent was recently selected to participate in the Young Leaders Dialogue with America Conference in Prague, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

Brent has been awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship for his doctoral research on developing a life cycle analysis framework of transportation- and building-related greenhouse gas emissions from building site alternatives. Brent’s research interests include transportation-related climate change mitigation and adaptation, transportation sustainability, and building energy efficiency. Upon graduation, Brent will pursue a career in academia, with the goal of advancing research and education for sustainable engineering.

When not thinking about transportation, sustainability, and grand challenges in science and engineering, Brent enjoys hiking, cycling, cooking, playing guitar, and spending time at home with his wife and two cats. Brent and his wife both enjoy travelling in North America and Europe – from exploring the natural beauty of Île Bonaventure near Gaspé to walking the quaint streets and trails of Frick, Switzerland.

Aaron Greenwood is a first-year M.S. student being advised by Dr. Michael Hunter. As a kid, he always loved cars and trains and knew he wanted to pursue transportation engineering. As an undergraduate, he received a Stamps Scholarship to study at Georgia Tech. After completing his B.S. degree in three years, he started his M.S. degree last fall.

Aaron has been involved with several student organizations, including Tau Beta Pi, Freshman Council, Chi Epsilon, the Lambda Sigma sophomore service society, the Insitute of Transportation Engineers, and the Women’s Transportation Seminar. Currently, he serves as a Graduate Student Senator in the SGA, representing CEE grad students and sits on the Joint Finance Committee, which advises SGA on how to spend its $4.5+ million budget it collects from student activity fees. He also just finished his year as chair of the Presidents’ Council Governing Board, a group that works to provide resources and improve communication between student organizations on campus.

Aaron has also travelled to three continents with the support of the Fleet and Mundy Scholarships. In the summer of 2009, he studied at Georgia Tech - Lorraine in Metz, France. In the Spring of 2010, he received a Mundy Scholarship to travel to Egypt and the UAE with several other transportation students to see the culture and observe development patterns in Cairo and Dubai. These two trips really gave this kid from rural North Carolina a broader view of the world!

Aaron is currently working on a project to improve diverges in freeway work zones. He is planning to continue my education and pursue a Ph.D. His research interests are in safety and road user behavior.

Susan Hotle has been a researcher under the advisement of Dr. Laurie Garrow for the past year. As an undergraduate, she helped develop teaching modules based on an airline planning software, which were used in Georgia Tech’s Freight and Airports course, a high school summer camp on simulations, and high school math classes in Georgia in the fall of 2010. Also, she has helped research the effects of product debundling in the airline industry and recently submitted a journal article on the topic.

Susan is an Engineer in Training and has received the Women in Transportation’s Sharon D. Banks Undergraduate Scholarship, Mundy Travel Scholarship, Institute of Transportation Engineers Scholarship, and President’s Undergraduate Research Award. With the Mundy Travel Scholarship, she traveled to Cairo, Luxor, and Dubai to study transportation systems in foreign countries. Susan is interested in using simulation methods to study air passenger behavior as part of her graduate studies.


Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program (DDETFP) awards fellowships on the basis of merit, which includes class standing, transportation work experience, recommendation letters, and the student’s proposed plan of study. Applications are evaluated by the Eisenhower Graduate Fellowships National Review Panel, composed of prominent national transportation professionals.

DDETFP attracts qualified students to the field of transportation education and research to advance transportation workforce development. The Program is intended to bring innovation and enhance the breadth and scope of knowledge of the entire transportation community in the United States. The Eisenhower Graduate Fellowship Program encompasses all modes of transportation. It is administered by the Federal Highway Administration for the U.S. Department of Transportation. For additional information about DDETFP visit: