Claudia Marovic Receives Outstanding Student of the Year Award (SOYA) for 2024

Headshot of Claudia Marovic standing in front of a white wall.

Claudia Marovic Receives Outstanding Student of the Year Award (SOYA) for 2024

Headshot of Claudia Marovic standing in front of a white wall.
Headshot of Claudia Marovic, the 2024 Student of the Year from the Center for Connected and Automated Transportation (CCAT)

Every year, each USDOT-funded University Transportation Center (UTC) selects a Student of the Year which is awarded at the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC) banquet in January. Selected students receive flight and hotel accommodations in D.C., as well as a registration to the Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting. This year, the Center for Connected and Automated Transportation has nominated Claudia Marovic, a Ph.D. candidate under Dr. Ping Yi. Claudia joined the program at the Civil Engineering Department at the University of Akron in 2020. She met with CCAT Communications Director, Calvin Tuttle, to discuss her research and nomination.

Calvin: Can you tell us about your research here at the University of Akron?

Claudia: My research is focused on older drivers’ understanding, acceptance, and willingness to use connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technologies, so that effective outreach and educational programs can be developed. The goal is to help this large segment of the population remain independent for as long as possible, and to reduce their crashes by using these technologies.

Calvin: Where did you grow up?

Claudia: I grew up in Northeast Ohio.

Calvin: Do you have any hobbies outside of transportation research?

Claudia: I love being outside and spending time at the park. I enjoy all the seasons and Northeast Ohio doesn’t disappoint. I also love to travel and explore different places.

Calvin: Is there a single moment that lead you on the path to transportation engineering?

Claudia: No single moment stands out. I’ve always been interested in logistics and the efficient
movement of systems. Throughout my exposure to different civil engineering disciplines, I was
always most interested in the elements of transportation engineering. I think those elements
contribute greatly to quality of life for individuals by supporting community and neighborhood
development in important and meaningful ways.

Calvin: What role are currently playing in CCAT research?

Claudia: We are working on the second phase of our research. The first phase used PowerPoint, videos, and general discussion about CAVs as educational tools for the drivers. The second phase involves simulations and real vehicle testing with the drivers.

Calvin: What activities are you currently participating in that advance CCAT’s efforts in education, outreach, training, and workforce development?

Claudia: I’m working with my advisor, Dr. Yi to plan speaking events and conferences on campus to bring together industry professionals and students. We’re also looking at developing a website to communicate our research and to provide educational tools for the public to access about the CAV technologies.

Calvin: What accomplishment from the past year are you most proud of?

Claudia: With my research, I’ve gone to lots of senior and community centers. It’s great to see how engaged people are and all the questions they have. I’ve been invited back to some of the centers because they want more learning opportunities and other collaborations. The Greater Cleveland Neighborhood Centers Association was so supportive of the program, that they invited me to speak about it at the International Federation of Settlements annual conference which was held in Lille, France this past May.

Calvin: What plans do you have after finishing your Ph.D.?

Claudia: I want to be a professor. I love to learn, and I enjoy helping other people learn and get excited about new things they discover.

Calvin: Do you have any advice for students that are entering the program and working with University Transportation Centers (UTC) such as CCAT?

Claudia: Don’t be afraid of failure because so much can be learned from that. That’s one of the things I really respect about my advisor. He always reminds us that we’re all learning, and he doesn’t necessarily know how things are going to turn out, but we’ll see where the exploration takes us.