An aspiring transportation engineer with drive

Tandon Ph.D. student wins prestigious WTS scholarship


When Farnoosh Namdarpour was a student in her native Iran, the heavy traffic and lengthy trips between her home and school found her caught in traffic for long periods of time. 

“Early on, I recognized the significant role that transportation systems play in socio-economic development and quality of life,” she says. “During these commutes, I constantly reflected on different strategies for improving transportation systems, which ultimately led to my interest in transportation engineering.”

She realized that the field was being revolutionized by emerging technologies, data sources, and advancements in AI, and she resolved to become involved. Her initial step was to pursue an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering at Isfahan University of Technology, where she conducted her first award-winning research: her “Intelligence Approach in Dynamic Adaptive Facades,” won best-paper honors at a national conference, and she ultimately ranked in the top 10% of her graduating class.  That stellar record entitled her to direct admission to the Transportation Engineering graduate program at Amirkabir University of Technology, where her master’s thesis involved using smartphone data to detect travel modes–a boon to any transportation planner seeking to run an efficient system by adopting mode-specific strategies. She explored the application of Genetic Programming in this research to improve the performance of travel mode detection, and this time she ranked not just in the top-ten of her graduating class but in the number-one spot.

Namdarpour’s journey brought her to NYU Tandon in 2021 to embark on doctoral studies at C2SMART, the school’s U.S. DOT Tier 1 University Transportation Center. There she studies with Institute Associate Professor of Civil & Urban Engineering and Deputy Director of C2SMART Joseph Chow, who encouraged her to apply for a WTS award. (The group, whose acronym has historically stood for the Women in Transportation Seminar, is aimed at advancing both the transportation industry and the professional women who lead it.) She is currently involved in multiple research projects. In a recent project with the organization MOIA, for example, she’s working on developing an algorithm to add transfer capabilities to a fleet of ridepooling vehicles and assessing the potential increase in the system’s efficiency. In another project, she’s helping in modeling truck population and adding it to MATSim-NYC, a citywide multi-agent simulation framework.

This month, Namdarpour garnered the WTS Infra Tech S. David Ali Memorial Graduate Scholarship–an honor she says will pave the way for her to make a contribution to the development of smart and sustainable cities–and to ultimately leverage her knowledge to improve people’s overall quality of life.

“It’s gratifying to see Farnoosh’s fine work being acknowledged by an important group like WTS, especially in these challenging times, when students are literally fighting for women's rights in her home country of Iran.” Chow says. “We’re very proud to have her at C2SMART, where she is helping us further our mission and improve the transportation systems of tomorrow to make societies more livable and equitable.”