Georgia Tech PhD Student Will Reichard Shares the Transportation Challenges Influencing his Research

Meet Georgia Tech PhD Student Will Reichard!

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Born and raised in Vineland, New Jersey, Georgia Tech Civil Engineering Ph.D. student, Will Reichard, began his undergraduate education at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey as a math-education dual major with plans of becoming a geometry teacher. 

Will’s initial aspirations began to shift, however, after holding several leadership positions in organizations with chapters at Rowan. As an undergraduate, Will became the Founding President of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, President of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and Founding Member of the American Society of Highway Engineers. Will also assisted in research focused on ethical and global engineering and innovative education techniques geared toward undergraduate students, providing essential experience influencing his decision to pursue transportation engineering in graduate school. 

After graduating from Rowan University with a B.S in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2020, Will directly entered Georgia Tech’s Civil Engineering Ph.D. program. In the program, Will is specifically interested in transportation economics, transportation policy, and pedestrian safety and accessibility. These interests include addressing fundamental issues in transportation. As Will describes:

We are overly-dependent on cars, partly because civil engineers have historically created infrastructure that fails to properly accommodate other modes of transportation, but also partly because our urban land use policies result in unrestricted sprawl, which makes it substantially more difficult for people to walk or bike to their destinations, and makes it impossible for cities to efficiently operate public transit systems. We have critical transportation safety issues, partly because civil engineers design roads that allow for dangerous speeds, but also partly because car designers continuously produce larger and larger vehicles that place pedestrians at unacceptable risk.  

Local governments need to curtail sprawl through zoning reform that allows for more urban density, the federal government needs to implement stricter automobile safety standards with a more explicit focus on pedestrian safety, and federal civil engineering design standards (MUTCD, AASHTO Green Book, etc) need to be revised with a focus on sustainability and multi-mobility.”

At Georgia Tech, Will continues to actively participate in many organizations, including student government, to address local transportation challenges on campus. Throughout the 2022-2023 academic year, Will served as President of the Georgia Tech Graduate Student Body and was an influential voice advocating the interests and needs of graduate students, which frequently involved campus transportation policy. As a student representative and transportation engineer, Will details his objectives:

“Ultimately, my cabinet and I used our platforms to advocate for the construction of additional student housing units near campus to allow for easier commuting via non-vehicular modes of transportation, and we’ve advocated for university operated transit routes to extend further outside of campus. These solutions will not provide immediate relief for graduate students, but will create a better campus environment in the long term.”

Despite changing career trajectories in higher education, Will’s enjoyment of connecting and mentoring students remains consistent. After receiving his Ph.D., Will hopes to expand this passion into a career as a professor and foster welcoming, inclusive spaces for students to learn and grow. 

In 2022, Will was awarded the Georgia Tech NCST Outstanding Student of the Year award for his research and academic accomplishments. He also received the ACSE Service Award and Outstanding Senior at Rowan University and was a recipient of the Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship. 

Congratulations on all your accomplishments Will!

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