An invitation to take part in a transit research project during his undergraduate years in civil engineering at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez motivated Dr. Miguel Lugo to pursue transportation engineering. The project paired students from various disciplines to work on topics related to urban systems, sustainability, and human factors.
“I was exposed to a multidisciplinary team of experts that saw transportation as an essential tool to improve quality of life,” he said. “Suddenly, my mind opened to not just vehicle travel, but to mass transit and the future of transportation.”
After completing his bachelor’s degree, Dr. Lugo decided to further his studies and pursue graduate work in the field of transportation engineering. He was aware of the University of Florida (UF) thanks to his experience competing against students from UF as part of his involvement with the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). He was drawn to UF because of the comprehensive facilities and perspectives offered by the school as well as the support offered by the National Science Foundation’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (NSF/LSAMP) Bridge to Doctorate fellowship.
As a graduate student at UFTI, Miguel enjoyed working on his dissertation “Walking and Healthy? On the Relationship among Utilitarian Walking, Health, and Residential Choice”. He says that it provided him with the opportunity to “marry two issues I am passionate about and use my research skills to develop new tools and ways to advance knowledge in this area,” the area of health and walkability. In addition to his Ph.D., he also earned a Master’s in Engineering with a minor in Urban and Regional Planning. His graduate adviser for both his master’s and doctoral degree work was Dr. Siva Srinivasan.
While at UF, Dr. Lugo became actively involved in the community. He was appointed as a committee member of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board (BPAB) which makes recommendations (serves as advisory) to the City of Gainesville Commission and the Alachua County Commission. Miguel reflects that his experience as a board member allowed him to “interact with the public, government officials, and consultants from a new perspective” while also helping him “understand the challenges associated with advancing new infrastructure that works for all.”
Since graduating from UF, he has been working with RS&H, an architecture, engineering, and consulting design firm at their headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida. At RS&H, he works with the Transportation-Infrastructure planning group where he is involved in regional planning, transit, and freight. Dr. Lugo’s work gives him the opportunity to collaborate with the Transit, Traffic Operations, Program Management, and Preliminary Design and Engineering Groups at RS&H through transportation planning, GIS, data analytics, and research. His work experiences include urban freight planning projects in the North Florida region, automated transportation systems/transit planning support, and resilience/sustainability opportunities. Additionally, he has received his Professional Engineer (PE) license for the state of Florida and the territory of Puerto Rico.
Dr. Lugo is active with the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and currently serves as the treasurer for the ITE First Coast chapter in Jacksonville. He also recently concluded his tenure as a committee member of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Standing Committee on Automated Transit Systems (AP040).
Dr. Lugo isn’t just actively involved in engineering. He is always looking to learn and try something new. Just this year he finished the 2020 Gate River Run in Jacksonville, the largest 15k in the country. He described Jacksonville as great place for outdoor exercise, citing “the beautiful riverfront, historic neighborhoods, and some challenging bridges that make running and biking very enjoyable.”
When asked what advice he would give to students working with the UFTI he said, “Be active in your education and professional development, but also take time to enjoy the renowned speakers and international events and all that the UF has to offer.”