Autonomous & Connected Systems PEI: CCAT-based researchers earn awards

The U.S. Department of Transportation Center for Connected and Automated Transportation (CCAT), with representation in Indiana via Purdue University, as well as in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio, was established in 2016 to conduct a multidisciplinary program of transportation research, education and technology transfer.

Purdue’s involvement with CCAT is conducted through the Sustainable Transportation Systems Group. In the last year, students within the center have been recognized with a variety of noteworthy awards, listed below:

Award Recipients

Bilsland Dissertation Fellowship

Photo of SeyedAli Ghahari


Doctoral student SeyedAli Ghahari was awarded the Bilsland Dissertation Fellowship, which is given to outstanding PhD students who entered the final year of their program in 2020. Criteria includes past and potential contributions to the field. Recipients receive a stipend/salary and tuition coverage. Ghahari is one of the School of Civil Engineering’s most widely cited students in the last several years. His is the second CCAT-sponsored student to win this fellowship award.

USDOT CCAT UTC Outstanding Student of the Year

Photo of Abdullah Nafakh


Researcher Abdullah J. Nafakh received the 2020 Annual University Transportation Centers (UTC) program’s Outstanding Student of the Year for CCAT. The award was presented at the CCAT’s annual event in January 2021. This award honors students at UTCs nationwide for their “notable contributions to the body of research in multi-modal, public transit, rail and road transportation, and their academic performance, professionalism and leadership.” He and other recipients were recognized by keynote speaker Elaine Chao, secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Elevator Pitch Awards

Photo of Paul Young Ha

The student chapter of Purdue Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) organized an Elevator Pitch event with participants presenting their research work in under a minute. Points were awarded based on several presentation quality criteria. Among the award winners were CCAT student researchers Paul Young Ha, first place, and Rayne Runjia Du, third place.

Photo of Rayne Runjia Du

Overly Memorial Scholarship

Photo of Naa Bortiorkor Alabi


CCAT researcher Naa Bortiorkor Alabi received the 2020 WTS Helene M. Overly Memorial Scholarship, presented by the Greater Indianapolis Chapter at a ceremony held in August 2020. WTS International, formerly called Women’s Transportation Seminar, focuses on promoting the advancement of women in the transportation industry. The scholarship recognized her as one of the outstanding graduate females in the industry and academia. At Purdue, Alabi is pursuing a master’s degree in civil engineering and a PhD in aviation and transportation technology.

Dwight Eisenhower Graduate Fellowship Award

Photo of Isaiah Mwamba


CCAT researcher Isaiah Mwamba received the Dwight Eisenhower Graduate Fellowship from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The award is intended to attract the nation’s brightest minds to the field of transportation and to encourage future transportation professionals to seek advanced degrees. The ultimate objective is to attract and retain top talent in the U.S. transportation industry and to foster innovative change in multiple modes, including highway, aviation and maritime.

For more on the Purdue Engineering Initiative in Autonomous and Connected Systems: