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SOP Essay [PhD Transportation Engineering]

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Dec 5, 2011   #1
Hello Everyone,

Could I request you all to please comment on my SoP, I applying for a PhD Transport Engineering and finding very difficult to bind it clear and succinctly. Anyhelp would be deeply appreciated


Could existing traffic equilibrium models be made sensitive enough such that they are better equipped to predict real world network impacts? If so, what are the parameters that control this sensitivity of traffic equilibrium models? What are the ways could we determine the overall 'fit' of the particular assignment model under the light of uncertainty, ambient variation, and system changes brought through the network attributes? I hope to find answers to few of the above questions during my stay as a PhD candidate at Department of Faculty, Some University.

I have recently completed my master's degree in Transport Planning & Engineering from XXXXXX. It is one of leading research institutes around the world in the field of transport. Though, I undertook various modules, I was particularly attracted towards Transport Modeling, Transport Network Analysis. Primarily, because these studies tend to provide tools to evaluate the impact of alternative interventions happening in real-life transport networks. These tools in turn help to explore the possible solutions to mitigate urban mobility problems. My master thesis, "Relative Importance of Distance against Time in Traffic Equilibrium Condition" under supervision Prof. XXXXXX was directed to study the ability of user-equilibrium models in predicting reliable traffic flows under influence of network/demand changes. The thesis analyzed the impact of relative valuation of travel distance in the generalized cost equation, over forecasting capabilities of traffic equilibrium solutions.

Experiments showed that for a given OD demand, sensitivity of the user-equilibrium models goes on increasing, when models are progressively made to favor distance over travel time. It also demonstrated that these predictions are very sensitive towards the algorithms used to compute network equilibrium condition. Such that under similar traffic flow conditions, trips flows assigned using the traditional Frank‐Wolfe (FW) algorithm varies to those predicted using Origin-Based Assignment (OBA). Systematic investigation showed that differences in the aggregate flow flowing through a link were related to the non-unique state of Wardrop's User Equilibrium Model. The model has ability to arrive at unique link flows for given OD demand levels, but it is not designed to arrive at total trips contributed by individual OD-movements. Importantly, the thesis enabled me to channel my conceptual skills in analyzing transport issues.

Prior to this, I worked with XXXX, one of the leading infrastructure companies in India. As a GIS Analyst my responsibilities included to analyze and minimize disruption in electrical distribution network. Utilizing geographic information systems (GIS) to visualize the spatial coverage of electrical distribution network and network analysis to perform routing analysis, I succeeded creating a model that identified those sections of network which were subjected to overloading. The model helped the organization to increase its network stability and robustness, thus decreasing operation and maintenance cost. The model was derived from my master's thesis submitted towards my Master's Degree in Geo-Informatics. With help of dynamic programming, the thesis exploited geo-spatial information of complex networked systems (e.g. road, rail, electrical, sewer) to solve the complexity connectivity issues.

The degree in transport engineering enabled me with fundamentals to differentiate between range of network modeling paradigms (both static and dynamic); while experience in using spatial characteristics of real world entities has plausibly allowed me to estimate the degree of coarseness within which aggregate models should perform. Yet it requires systematic, and recursive approach in acknowledging user's network/spatial perception to real network impacts. Finding tangible explanation to these estimates of traffic flows and travel times over the network demands in-depth, much more rigorous analysis such that I now desire to pursue my doctoral research in this pursuit at your Institute. The program will help me to better understand functioning of these complex network systems whilst exploring relatively untouched areas of study.

The University of XXXX provides the ultimate combination of research and scholarships for the scholars that share same amount of zeal in the field of transportation studies. Being member of such a group would not only help me to sustain financially but also keep me focussed on my research. Its academic community which is dedicated to the "interactive development" of transport professionals will give me an invaluable opportunity to broaden my horizons. It will also allow me to systematically approach towards the challenges I would encounter during my research that I cannot anticipate at the moment.

I believe learning and sharing are an integral part of research. A discovery is far from complete if one does not also find a suitable way to present it to others. Hence, my ultimate goal is to pursue my career in academia. The position will allow me to share my past research experience, simultaneously be part of active research team which continues to study transportation networks. My goals can only become realized in a setting that is dedicated to the same development and research in the field of Transport Planning and Engineering as I am. University of XXXX embraces all of these qualities and thus creates a ideal platform.

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