Civil is for the community.
Nneoma Ugwu comes from a background of civil engineers, including her father. Growing up in Nigeria, she says she saw the “community impact” of infrastructure projects first-hand. “Civil is for the community,” she says, and that is why it has always interested her. Nneoma got her undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. In her junior year, she decided to focus on transportation.
Neoma started in the MS/PhD program in Transportation and Project Management at UMD in 2019. The Dean of her previous college had introduced her to Dr. Deb Niemeier, who is now her advisor. She finished her MS in 2021 and became a PhD candidate in 2022. Her Master’s thesis was on Covid-19 and its impact on transportation systems.
Nneoma’s graduate research under Dr. Niemeier is focused on equity issues surrounding electric vehicles. Nneoma has surveyed minority and non-minority respondents to compare barriers to electric vehicle adoption. She also studies the accessibility of electric vehicles, from areas with many charging stations to others that are “charging deserts.” She also hopes to include the policy implications of her findings. “We want to make sure equity is in the foreground,” not an afterthought, when we implement emerging technologies, she says.
Nneoma’s favorite thing about being in the CEE Department is the support she has received from the faculty and administration. She has received the Clark Doctoral Fellows Mid-Career Award, among other awards and scholarships from UMD. She also appreciates that she has been provided funding to attend many conferences in her area, such as the Transportation Research Board conference. She also says the department’s faculty are very open, receptive, and easy to communicate with.
Nneoma was Secretary of the ITS-ITE UMD Student Chapter and has previously represented the department in Graduate Student Government (GSG). She is also a member of numerous professional organizations, including the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) and the Community of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO), and is a reviewer for the Transportation Research Board. She hopes to start a student chapter of WTS before she graduates. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and baking.
Nneoma hopes to graduate next year, in 2024. She plans to go back into industry to do consulting for a transportation company. Her focus on the community impact of civil engineering ensures her work will have far-reaching social benefits in the years to come.