Student Spotlight: Seckin Ozkul

Seckin Ozkul commutes every week to the University of Florida in Gainesville from his home in Tampa to attend classes and carry out his research at the UFTI’s Transportation Engineering Graduate Program. He is a doctoral student working on various projects that will eventually comprise his dissertation in the area of traffic operations and freight.  With a spouse who is a working professional and two small children who patiently wait for daddy to come home on the weekends, this is truly a sacrifice, but one well worth it.

“One of the main reasons I commute is the fact that UF has a very strong transportation program driven by very bright and innovative faculty members,” Ozkul said. “It is a well-structured program designed with students’ learning in mind.

Ozkul is originally from Istanbul, Turkey, and he is a naturalized citizen of the United States. His interest in transportation engineering began as an undergraduate student at Auburn University while working on a research project and later taking a course in the subject area. These two experiences solidified his interest in transportation engineering to the point that he excelled in his studies and won Alabama’s ITE prestigious Charles E. Alexander transportation scholarship.

After graduation in 2007, Ozkul worked as a staff engineer for Sprinkle Consulting, Inc., an engineering and planning firm in Florida. While at Sprinkle, he was in charge of various projects from the planning phase to close-outs. However, graduate school was in the cards for him and in 2008, he began a master’s program, partially paid by his employer, at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Ozkul graduated in 2009 with a master’s degree in civil engineering, specializing in transportation and hydrology and continued to work for the firm. He says working at Sprinkle as a staff engineer provided him with very valuable project management and design experience.

Ozkul has always enjoyed working on research projects.  He finds research “very intriguing”, thus was determined to take on another challenge and pursue doctoral studies at UF. Ozkul is now a doctoral candidate and has worked on projects such as “On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) Data Integration into Traffic Microsimulation”, a project funded by the STRIDE Center, a U.S. Department of Transportation regional (Southeast) University Transportation Center at UF; “Heavy Vehicle Effects on Florida Highways and Freeways”, FDOT funded project; and “Arterial Level of Service Analysis for Florida,” also sponsored  by FDOT.

“The most interesting and satisfying aspect of the projects that I have completed at UF is that they are practical,” Ozkul said. “The results from both FDOT projects that I worked on are currently being implemented in the State of Florida, and the feeling that I am contributing to the society which I live in is amazing.”

The work he carried out on “Heavy Vehicle Effects on Florida Freeways and Multilane Highways” won him second place in the ITE Student Poster Competition during the ITE District 10 Florida Section Annual Meeting, November 6-8, 2013, in Kissimmee, Fla. Ozkul’s Most recent accomplishments include winning third place at the 2014 STRIDE Student Poster Competition during the 93rd Meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) in Washington, D.C., and he is an International Road Federation (IRF) Fellows for 2014.

The weekly commute and time spent away from his family is a sacrifice indeed, but Ozkul is glad to have such a supportive network of people in Gainesville.

“Many friends in the transportation program have helped me a lot by hosting me during my overnight stays in Gainesville,” Ozkul said. “I would like to thank them all for helping me achieve my goals and for being wonderful friends for life.”

Ozkul will graduate in Summer 2014.