Outstanding Graduate Students

Each year, NIATT honors one especially outstanding graduate student by naming that person Student-of-the-Year. Students are selected based on the technical merit of their research, academic performance, and professionalism and leadership. The NIATT student is then submitted to represent UI for a chance to be the TranLIVE or the PacTrans UTC Student-of-the-Year. The US Department of Transportation (DOT) recognizes the Student-of-the-Year from each university transportation center at a special ceremony during the annual Transportation Research Board meeting in Washington, DC. The student also receives $1,000 cash award and a trip to DC for the annual TRB conference.

Christopher Davidson2013 Student-of-the-year Christopher "Kip" Davidson

Christopher was first exposed to traffic signal systems during his senior year of pursuing a B.S. in Civil Engineering at the University of Idaho and has been fascinated with the dynamic topic ever since.

After assisting in research efforts for the National Institute for Advanced Transportation Technology (NIATT) during his undergraduate career, he felt at home in continuing his transportation engineering education as a graduate student under the supervision of Dr. Ahmed Abdel-Rahim, P.E. During this time, he had the exciting opportunity of investigating eco-friendly traffic signal timing plans for fully-actuated isolated intersections and fixed-time arterial corridors. The outcome of this research is rewarding both on a local and global perspective. Reducing the amount of tailpipe emissions and fuel consumed as a result of traffic signal control is a substantial step in the fight against pollution and global warming.

NIATT has supplied him with pertinent tools, such as transportation simulation experience, and the knowledge to effectively solve real-world problems. Upon obtaining his M.S.C.E. with an emphasis in transportation engineering in December of 2013, he joined the team at Horrocks Engineers, headquartered near Salt Lake City, Utah, working on various transportation related projects.

Kip represented UI in the TranLIVE UTC Student-of-the-Year selection process. William "Andy" Edwardes from Virginia tech was selected as the 2013 TranLIVE Student-of-the-Year http://tranliveutc.org/engr/niatt/tranlive/publications.

Andrew Hooper2013 Student-of-the-year Andrew "Drew" Hooper

UI mechanical engineering graduate Andrew (“Drew”) Hooper has been selected Student-of-the-Year for the PacTrans regional UTC, which is based at the University of Washington. He was selected as the most exceptional student studying transportation in the five northwest universities that comprise the PacTrans research group.  Drew graduated Fall 2013 with a MS in Mechanical Engineering from the UI.  He is now a project engineer with Polaris. 

His expertise is in the area of clean and efficient direct-injected two-stroke engine development.  He was instrumental in the achievements of the UI Clean Snowmobile Team in the SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge in 2013, which won overall Third Place, and a record of 10 other trophies and awards.  The UI snowmobile had the same pollution emissions as the cleanest four-stroke machines, while being equally fuel efficient and 200-300 pounds lighter.  With Polaris, Andrew is now working on the next generation of clean two-stroke engines. 

Drew is author or co-author on two papers that have been submitted to the Society of Automotive Engineers for publication as technical papers and presentation at the international Small Engines Technology Conference, the premier global venue for work in small engines.  One of the papers received the Best Technical Paper Award at the Clean Snowmobile Challenge in 2013. 

Drew also was a member of the senior design team which designed and now has a patent on a synchronous charge trapping (SCT) two-stroke engine.  The SCT valve is unique in that it operates at any engine speed, and may be able to replace the heavy, bulky, large tuned pipe which is placed in the exhaust of a typical two-stroke engine.  These rotary exhaust valves operate at the speed of the engine and greatly reduce emissions from the engine by improving scavenging.  This saves weight and space, and reduces costs. His thesis examined the pollution emissions produced by the engine and is entitled “COMPARISON OF SYNCHRONOUS CHARGE TRAPPING AND VARIABLE EXHAUST VALVES IN A TWO-STROKE ENGINE. 

During his graduate career, Andrew also had an internship with Bombardier Recreational products, makers of Evinrude and Ski-Doo, and learned how to control combustion in two-stroke engines. 


All of NIATT graduate students are outstanding.

Read about what some of them are doing

Why get a graduate degree?

National Institute for Advanced Transportation Technology

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