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Award spotlights ASU engineer's wide-ranging impact on transportation field

Fulton Schools Professor Ram Pendyala receives an award

Professor Ram Pendyala (right) was presented the ARTBA S.S. Steinberg Award by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Professor Jose Holguin-Veras. The award recognizes outstanding contributions in teaching and research in transportation engineering and related areas. Photo courtesy of Ram Pendyala

January 19, 2018

Contributions over the past 25 years to education and research, along with endeavors that have made him an international leader in the transportation engineering field, have earned Arizona State University Professor Ram Pendyala high recognition from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association.

The far-reaching impact of his work was emphasized in the organization’s announcement of Pendyala’s selection as the S.S. Steinberg Award winner recently at the annual meeting of its Research and Education Division in Washington, D.C.

The professor of civil, environmental and sustainable engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering was honored for research that has advanced multimodal transportation systems planning, travel behavior modeling, time use and activity pattern analysis, freight and passenger transportation demand forecasting, travel survey methods, microsimulation approaches and the study of transformational technologies in transportation.

His expertise extends also to sustainable mobility management strategies, analysis of public transportation systems, and integrated modeling of land use, transportation, energy and air quality systems.

Pendyala has conducted research and served as a consultant on numerous local, regional, national and international transportation projects, including acting as a transportation infrastructure evaluation consultant for the World Bank.

His accomplishments include winning the U.S. Transportation Research Board’s Pyke Johnson best paper award in 2011 and 2013, and being named the director of the U.S. Department of Transportation Tier 1 University Transportation Center for Teaching Old Models New Tricks that is led by ASU.

He is an associate editor for Transportation Research Part D, the leading journal dedicated to transportation and the environment and a member of the editorial boards of a number of other prominent journals. He is also chair of the Planning and Environment Group of the Technical Activities Division of the Transportation Research Board, providing oversight for the activities of more than 25 technical committees.   

The award also recognizes success in nurturing the next generation of transportation professionals. Pendyala’s exceptional accomplishments in that area were stressed by the colleague who nominated him for the Steinberg Award.

Pendyala’s priorities “are clearly the educational and professional growth of his students,” wrote Chandra Bhat in his nomination letter. Bhat is the Joe J. King Chair Professor in Engineering and director of the Center for Transportation Research at the University of Texas at Austin. 

Pendyala, who teaches courses in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, one of the Fulton Schools, has inspired many students to choose transportation as a career path, encouraging them to pursue graduate studies, get involved in professional organizations, and to prepare for their careers by co-authoring papers and participating in funded research projects while still in school.

He has mentored more than 50 graduate students, including a dozen who earned doctoral degrees, and has seen those students and others rise to leading positions in industry, at academic and research institutions, and in government agencies.

Pendyala is “a very good mentor and … clearly an articulate and passionate teacher,” Bhat wrote. “I would find it difficult to think of another individual with Ram’s combination of drive, passion for education and research, dedication to his chosen field, leadership and mentorship skills.”

Pendyala says he is especially humbled to be recognized with the S.S. Steinberg Award “because previous winners include highly accomplished scholars and teachers who have greatly inspired and influenced my own career. So, I am tremendously honored, and it motivates me to want to continue making a difference.”

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