Hesham Rakha has been named a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering.

The director of the Center for Sustainable Mobility at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), Rakha was nominated by current academy members for his  dedication to reducing traffic congestion, reducing the transportation system's energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and enhancing transportation safety. He will be one of the 55 new fellows inducted this year.

“Modern transportation is among societies’ greatest achievements, but the system also creates complex challenges that require data-driven methods to appropriately address. Hesham’s work not only enhances our ability to understand the impacts of the current transportation system, but also to explore what is possible by modeling transportation systems of the future,” said Zac Doerzaph, the institute's executive director. “Hesham’s expertise and impressive software enhances our simulation and modeling capabilities, creating unique tools that allow students and professionals to explore and optimize transportation systems.”

Rakha’s research focuses on large-scale transportation system optimization, modeling, and assessment. He works to amplify transportation system operators imaking them more efficient, reducing energy consumption, and enhancing the safety of vehicles. He also is researching vehicle routing techniques that ensure drivers travel the most efficient route possible.

“Hesham is an exceptional researcher and an outstanding mentor. His contributions to transportation engineering have played a major role in the evolution of travel,” said Kathleen Hancock, professor and coordinator of the Transportation Infrastructure and Systems Engineering program. “He is deserving of this prestigious honor.”  

One of his key research achievements involves development of the INTEGRATION microscopic traffic simulation software, an internationally recognized transportation tool that models human travel and driving behavior. Rakha’s software optimizes the longitudinal and lateral motion of various ground transportation modes — cars, buses, trucks, trains, and bicycles — and routes vehicles efficiently and includes various traffic signal controllers.

The INTEGRATION software has been used in a variety of applications including the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. It also was used in the greater Los Angeles area, modeling more than 3 million multimodal traveler trips.

Rakha’s additional research work includes the development of calibration methodologies of transportation modeling tools, the development of various energy and emission modeling frameworks, the development of safety modeling tools, and the large-scale modeling of the interdependencies of the communication and transportation systems.

“It is a great honor to be recognized by my peers and the academy," said Rakha.

The Samuel Reynolds Pritchard Professor of Engineering, Rakha has taught over 40 undergraduate and graduate courses on developing environmentally friendly and safe transportation systems in the Charles E. Via, Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He also holds a courtesy title of professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and has instructed over 1,000 students since 1999, including serving as an advisor and graduating 35 Ph.D. and 48 master's students. Rakha is also a fellow for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the Asia-Pacific Artificial Intelligence Association.

Rakha earned his bachelor's in civil engineering from Cairo University and his master's degree and Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada. He also completed his postdoctoral in civil engineering at Queen’s University.

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