Yinan Zheng: On the Road to an Exciting Career in Transportation

Yinan ZhenghYinan Zheng is a Ph.D. student in her last year in University of Florida’s transportation program. She was always interested in engineering, since both her parents were also engineers. She completed her undergraduate degree in civil engineering in China, but wasn’t sure what her focus would be. Until she met Dr. Lily Elefteriadou, professor and director of the University of Florida Transportation Institute (UFTI).

It was the many conversations with Dr. Elefteriadou that truly inspired Yinan to focus on the field of transportation. They spoke about topics related to the future of transportation and it became clear to Yinan that she wanted to be a part of that future.

Yinan enjoys being able to design roads and evaluate traffic, but has only thought of transportation engineering in terms of the vehicle’s movement. As a research graduate student under faculty adviser Dr. Elefteriadou, her first research project introduced her to other aspects of transportation, particularly pedestrian/vehicle interactions. She has since worked on other projects through her years at UFTI, but pedestrian safety has stayed with her. Yinan is especially interested in pedestrian interactions with connected vehicles.

Many opportunities have been afforded to Yinan through UFTI, which she is taking full advantage of. Through Dr. Elefteriadou’s professional connections, she has also been able to network with other transportation professionals at conferences and meetings.

As a member and webmaster for WTS Central Florida, Yinan loves to show kids at K-12 events that women and minorities can succeed at engineering. Yinan has won several awards while at UFTI, and more recently, she was the recipient of the WTS 2015 Helene M. Overly Memorial Graduate Scholarship, awarded to her by her WTS chapter. Yinan also hopes to teach next year to find out if that is where her heart leads.

“No matter which field you’re in, transportation is a way of solving problems in the real world, and that is very fulfilling,” Yinan said. “When you enter transportation, learn from other departments, such as statistics, computer science, industrial engineering. All of them correlate.”

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