Hesham Rakha, director of the Center for Sustainable Mobility at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), has been awarded with the 2021 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Outstanding Research Award for his contributions to large-scale transportation system optimization, modeling, and assessment.

“The research performed by Dr. Rakha, and the Center for Sustainable Mobility, continuously advances our understanding of transportation systems,” said Zac Doerzaph, VTTI executive director. “His findings often identify strategies for improving performance as shared within his numerous publications and within industry best practices. Having the opportunity to work with Hesham is always an insightful experience, and I am excited to follow the ongoing positive impacts he is making on the transportation industry.” 

The IEEE ITS Outstanding Research Award is given annually for Intelligent Transportation Systems Society researchers, practitioners, and research/development teams who have made significant contributions to research in related fields, developed and deployed successful ITS systems or implementations, and demonstrated leadership in promoting ITS technologies. The award recognizes, promotes, and publicizes major research contribution, application innovations with real-world impact, and ITS institutional leadership.

“It is a great honor to receive such a prestigious award,” said Rakha, the Samuel Reynolds Pritchard Professor of Engineering in the Charles E. Via, Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who also holds a courtesy appointment in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “It is truly flattering to be among the other recipients who have made tremendous impacts with their work.”

Rakha started at the institute in 1997. Since then, he has served as a research scientist, group leader, and the director of the Center for Sustainable Mobility since 2004. 

The Virginia Tech researcher’s key achievement entails the continuous development of the INTEGRATION microscopic traffic simulation software, an internationally recognized transportation modeling 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), routes vehicles efficiently, and also include various traffic signal controllers. 

The INTEGRATION microscopic traffic simulation software has been used in a variety of applications including the 2002 Winter Olympics, the 2008 Summer Olympics, and in the greater Los Angeles area modeling more than 3 million multi-modal 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.

As a professor, Rakha has taught over 40 undergraduate and graduate courses on skillsets needed to develop environmentally friendly and safe transportation systems. Since 1999, he has taught to over 1,000 students, including serving to completion as an advisor for 35 Ph.D. and 46 master's students.

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

Share this story