Somaye Fakharian, a second year Ph.D. student and president of the Women’s Transportation Seminar at Florida International University (FIU), was involved in the transportation engineering field for around four years before coming to FIU from Iran. She says that she decided to come to FIU after “a friend who was in school there encouraged her to apply.” Additionally, she was impressed by the reputation of FIU’s transportation program, both nationally and internationally, as it was important to her to choose a well-known, prominent university.
Somaye (third from right) and other executive board members of the FIU chapter of WTS
Somaye’s primary area of study is Traffic and Transportation Engineering, and she began her studies at the Florida International University’s College of Engineering and Computing in Spring of 2013. In January of 2009, she graduated from the Iran University of Science and Technology with a Master’s of Engineering in Civil Engineering-Transportation. Fakharian’s areas of research interest include intelligent transportation systems, highway safety, demand analysis and transportation modelling and software, and public transportation. At FIU, Dr. Mohammed Hadi is her advisor, and along with researchers from the University of Central Florida (UCF) and FIU colleague Dr. Haitham Al-Deek, they are working on a project entitled “Performance Measures of Transportation systems based on Fine-Grained Data Collected by AVI and AVL Systems”.
Somaye will be graduating from FIU within the next year, and she is in the process of preparing her dissertation proposal, entitled "Multi-Resolution Simulation of Managed Lanes with Consideration of Automated/Connected Vehicles".
When asked what her favorite research project has been, Fakharian said the Point Detector and AVI Data project has been of particular interest to her, because of its potential effects for both travelers and managers. Through this project, she has enjoyed learning about new performance management techniques and software, such as ITSDCAP, CORSIM, and Blu Stat, which have proved helpful in quantifying the efficacy of AVI data gathering techniques in relation to point detector data gathering methods, in regards to determining performance measurement.
Somaye has also presented her research at several events, including the FIU CEE Graduate Research Day: Graduate Poster Session, the 2013 University Transportation Center Conference for the Southeastern Region, and she accompanied colleagues Dr. Yan Xiao, Dr. Haitham Al-Deek, and Dr Mohammed Hadi to the 93rd Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board in January of 2014 in presenting their research on the “Comparison of Instantaneous and Experienced Travel Time Using Point Detector Data and AVI Data”. Somaye presented a second paper at the 2015 TRB Annual Meeting, "Estimation of Freeway Density Based on the Combination of Point Traffic Detector Data and Automatic Vehicle Identification Data. "In September of 2013, the FIU chapter of the WTS hosted Fakharian as their first graduate student seminar speaker, where she presented her point detector and AVI data research.
In 2014, Somaye won ITS Florida's Anne S. Brewer Scholarship, as well as a 2013 Dwight D. Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship program. During her presidency, the WTS chapter at FIU was approved by WTS International, the 3rd university to be recognized.
Somaye presenting at FIU's Graduate Research Day
As she enjoys research so much, Somaye hopes to one day serve as a member of the FIU faculty in the field of transportation, while continuing her research.
Throughout her academic career, her mother has been her role model and encouragement. Somaye says that “[her mother] is so hard working and determined, and she has always encouraged me to work hard towards achieving my goals.” At FIU, Dr. Hadi has been a role model for her and other students, with his pleasant demeanor and prominence in the field. Additionally, Dr. Yan Xiao, a research associate of Somaye’s, has been a source of motivation and helpful information.
Outside the world of research, she enjoys working out at the gym every day, listening to music, spending time with her friends, and cooking, as well as having been an avid swimmer since childhood and reading poetry. She also enjoys traveling, biking, playing badminton, and gardening. One of her favorite quotes could easily be a source of inspiration to us all - “If everybody can do it, I can definitely do it”.
Somaye Fakharian is truly an extraordinary person and researcher, and a role model for women in Civil Engineering everywhere. She feels that civil engineering is the most essential form of engineering in trying to make the world a better place, because every component of civil engineering relates to human life.