FALL, 2013 --Twenty-two engineering students from five states and seven countries, each interested in various aspects of transportation, met one another and the faculty that will guide them for the next year or several years at the Institute’s annual orientation in late August.
The afternoon session was led by Professor Mark Hansen who began introductions by joking that he worked in the field of aviation, the “superior transportation mode.”
One by one faculty members introduced themselves and described their areas of expertise, offered words of advice, and occasionally challenged Hansen’s favored mode as superior.
Professor Joan Walker encouraged students to take advantage of this "wonderful university.”
“Our motto here at Berkeley is ‘we do everything and we do everything well,’ and it’s true.”
Walker, who specializes in behavioral modeling, added that she chose transportation precisely because of its interdisciplinary nature, citing her interest in psychology and other areas not typically seen as part of an advanced degree in transportation. Transportation engineering students often find themselves attending classes and doing research projects with transportation planning students within the University's Department of City and Regional Planning. Some receive dual degrees in transportation engineering and planning.
Walker encouraged students to also take classes in public health, business, and public policy, and to explore some of the interdisciplinary academic centers such as the Energy and Resources Group (ERG) and Global Metropolitan Studies (GMS).
Some incoming students had already gotten that message. Asked why she chose UC Berkeley, new student Sreeta Gorripaty wrote in response to a questionnaire, “The work in transportation at UC Berkeley includes the best faculty globally and collaborates with diverse departments around the campus.”
David Weinzimmer, who is working toward a dual degree in transportation and planning, wrote that he “couldn’t study transportation and sustainability in such an interdisciplinary way elsewhere.”
Others cited the quality of the faculty, the ability to study toward several different types of degrees, research opportunities, and the quality of the other students.
Incoming student May Cheung said she’d lived in and visited cities of all sizes where she traveled via public transportation. “My goal is to help cities in the U.S. become less car dependent and develop sustainable public transportation options across the country,” she wrote.
When she introduced herself to the faculty and other students, she said her goal was to transform public transit into the "superior" mode.