UF Alum: Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali completed his master’s degree in civil engineering in 2012 at the University of Florida with a focus in transportation. He is currently a transportation engineer working in the Chicago, Illinois office of Ghafari Associates, a global consulting firm specializing in engineering, architecture, process design, and construction. As a transportation engineer, he has worked on many projects, finding solutions to improve various systems.

“In the course of my career I have worked on roadway/highway design, industrial and commercial development, infrastructure design, and aviation design projects,” he said. “Currently, I’m mainly involved in aviation design projects in USA, South America, Europe, and the Middle East. I have been involved with very challenging projects from all around the world.”

He is thrilled about his job and says that life after graduation is very different from outside of school. Ali said that in school, students are given questions to solve, but in the real world, engineers first have to figure out the problems before finding solutions.

Ali became interested in transportation because he was proficient in mathematics and had no interest in the biological sciences. Growing up in Pakistan, it was the more highly skilled discipline areas that were preferred.

“My parents didn’t leave me with very much choices, it was either an engineer or a doctor,” he said. “I choose engineering because I was good with drawing and mathematics, and I had no interest in spending my time in biology labs studying frogs and other animals.”

Ali was inspired by the many modes of transportation and was impressed by how a good transportation system can help a region’s economy. He says that while studying civil engineering, he was introduced to transportation engineering in one of his classes, “[it] grabbed my attention and I choose to continue further studies in transportation engineering.”

Dr. Lily Elefteriadou, Director of the UFTI and STRIDE Center (at left) and Muhammad Ali.
Dr. Lily Elefteriadou, Director of the UFTI and STRIDE Center (at left) and Muhammad Ali at a conference in Chicago.

Ali came to UF to pursue his master’s degree and studied under Dr. Scott Washburn. He worked on various projects, including the “Impact of Lane Closures on Roadway Capacity” with Dr. Washburn, and on the “Design Manual for Storm Water Infrastructure Repair/Renewal/Replacement Program, Sarasota, Florida” with Dr. Fazil Najafi. While in the master’s degree program at UF, Ali was selected as an International Road Federation Fellow and was involved with many student organizations. Ali graduated in May 2013.

“UF was overall a great experience,” Ali said. “During the course of my studies, I was involved with the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and with the Advancing Women in Transportation (WTS) chapters at the University of Florida. I was also an active member Pakistani Student Association, and a big supporter of Project Downtown, a volunteer organization working to feed the homeless in Gainesville’s downtown.”