Research universities and colleges such as UConn, which offer doctoral and master’s degree programs, invest considerable time and effort in recruiting top candidates to their graduate programs. Many top tier universities compete with UConn to offer enticing packages. One ongoing challenge is how effectively to promote UConn among prospective graduate students and foster a dialogue that leads to greater recruiting success.
For some Civil & Environmental Engineering (CEE) faculty members specializing in transportation and urban planning, a prime venue for graduate recruiting is the annual meeting of the national Transportation Research Board (TRB) in Washington, DC. According to assistant professor Nicholas Lownes, the TRB meeting attracts approximately 10,000 attendees each year, including luminaries such as Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, policy makers, administrators, practitioners, researchers, and representatives of government, industry, and academic institutions. This year’s event in January featured more than 3,000 presentations in nearly 600 sessions.
Capitalizing on the size and quality of the event, during the last two years the CEE faculty have organized a special networking reception. Attending this year’s reception were more than 80 individuals from academia, industry and the public sector, according to Dr. Lownes. The relaxed atmosphere, he remarked, is conducive to discussions of UConn’s current transportation research and allows faculty and students to showcase exciting new developments, network with prospective collaborators and employers, and speak with potential students.
Fifteen UConn transportation graduate students attended the meeting, along with several recent graduates. Dr. Lownes noted that new alumnus Craig Yannes (M.S. ’09), was honored during the meeting for his receipt of the CTUP (Center for Transportation & Urban Planning) Student of the Year award.
The UConn reception was sponsored by the School of Engineering and the CEE department, with additional funding provided through a UConn Graduate School grant for “Innovative Recruiting Initiatives” secured by Dr. Lownes. Additional support was provided by corporate friends — Fuss & O’Neill, the Beta Group, Inc. and Lochner — and by UConn’s CTUP and the Center for Resilient Transportation Infrastructure (CRTI), a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence.