This spring, Sahila Sarjana graduated with a master’s degree in civil engineering at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She also worked as a graduate research assistant on a STRIDE-funded project titled “Technology Influence on Travel Demand and Behavior”, a project led by her thesis adviser Dr. Virginia Sisiopiku.
Sarjana’s interest in transportation engineering solidified while volunteering on a couple of research projects during her time as an undergraduate student at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET).
“My exposure to them made me realize the influence of the transportation system on every aspect of life,” she said. “Mobility and accessibility are of vital importance to the well being of all members of the society, and those observations initiated me to continue graduate studies in the field of transportation engineering.”
At UAB, her work on the STRIDE project focused on identifying micro-level determinants that influence the Transportation Network Companies’ (TNCs) growth through the analysis of preferences and attitudes of transportation users from around the Birmingham region.
“My study findings can inform TNCs and other shared mode services about the needs and opportunities of the local market and enable them to better understand how the travel behavior, mode choice, and travel demand might affect the use of TNCs in the region,” she said. “The results can also be helpful to transit agencies, and TNC companies to coordinate their efforts towards achieving integrated system operations that could attract new customers and benefit both types of transportation services in the future.”
Sarjana was recognized twice for her work on the STRIDE-funded project, winning 1st Place at the STRIDE Center’s Student Poster Showcase/Competition, an event that was held on January 13, 2020, in conjunction with the University of Florida Transportation Institute’s Annual Reception at the 99th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board in Washington, D.C., and on April 3, 2019, at the 2019 Southern District ITE for Outstanding Graduate Student Paper.
In addition to her rigorous academic work and research duties, Sarjana was involved in many service-oriented activities at UAB. She regularly volunteered at the “Girls in Science and Engineering Day”, the “Kids in Engineering Day”, and the “Introduce a Girl to Engineering” events, which are in part funded by the STRIDE Center’s K-12 program at UAB. As for leadership experience, Sarjana served as the Event Chair and past Treasurer of the UAB Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Student Chapter. She also served as the Treasurer of Graduate Student Government at UAB.
And finally, as Sarjana was completing the Spring 2020 semester and gearing up for graduation, she was presented with the Outstanding Graduate Student of the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering at UAB Award.
“This was a great honor and a nice way to wrap up my graduate program at UAB,” she said.