Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship Program

The National Center for Sustainable Transportation at UC Davis awards undergraduate research fellowships to students interested in continuing their studies over the summer by conducting research in one of the following areas: environmentally responsible infrastructure and operations, multi-modal travel and sustainable land use, zero-emission vehicle and fuel technologies, and institutional change. We are very excited to have these students working with us!

Learn about how you can apply for our fellowship program!


2020 NCST Undergraduate Research Fellows

Faiza Alvi

Faiza Alvi

Major: Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
Mentors: PH&EV Center

Faiza is conducting research on existing and planned hydrogen infrastructure in California. Specifically, she is looking at the different types of hydrogen refueling possible and how fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) can be supported as they grow in popularity. 


Emily CarlsonEmily Carlson

Major: Design
Mentors: Dr. Angela Sanguinetti and Dr. Beth Ferguson

Emily will be working on two projects, both exploring visual design’s role in influencing and educating the public on the benefits of sustainable transportation with automobiles. The first project is a survey researching how to encourage the public to ride in shared autonomous vehicles. The second project is a website that compares electric vehicles to gas vehicles trying to convince the user that electric vehicles are ultimately the better choice for the environment and the user.


TAK CHUN MARCUS ChanTak Chun Marcus Chan

Major: Civil Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Giovanni Circella

Marcus will participate in the COVID-19 mobility study by analyzing how behaviors and attitudes have changed over time.  He will also analyze how people are adjusting to the COVID-19 impact in their lives. Specifically, he will examine the responses obtained from online surveys and provide key data findings on transportation during this period of time which relate to various factors such as sociodemographic changes, significant locations affected, the scale of outbreak and the appropriate measures the government is implementing.


Aristide FertigAristide Fertig

Major: Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
Mentors: Dr. Lew Fulton & Dr. Behdad Kiani

Aristide is gathering data on the economic feasibility of the use of hydrogen as a dominant energy source in California. He is investigating different methods of hydrogen production using electrolysis, and the amount of hydrogen already being produced in California. He is also researching future prospects of hydrogen demand in California by looking at the state’s future in ammonia production and the energy consumption of steel plants.


Kaily FlynKailey Flynn

Major: Environmental Policy, Analysis, and Planning
Mentor: Dr. Susie Pike

Kailey is using previously-collected survey data to investigate how train users access the Davis Amtrak station and what affects their experience there. She is specifically examining how certain variables, like age, gender, and reason for travel, might impact users' transportation choices. She will analyze these areas using regression or other models. She hopes that her work will contribute to our understanding of access modes and access barriers as well as inform the Davis Amtrak Station Access Program.


Emma GoldsmithEmma Goldsmith

Major: Environmental Policy and Analysis
Mentor: Dr. Elisa Barbour

Emma is exploring local policymaking patterns for transit-oriented development, transit, and active transportation in California's four largest regions: the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Sacramento, as well as other case study cities. Emma is conducting a literature review of city documents and news coverage on transit-oriented development, transit, and active transportation projects. Additionally, she will be conducting interviews with key stakeholders and city staff.


David HaddadDavid Haddad

Major: Computer Science and Engineering
Mentors: Dr. Angela Sanguinetti & Dr. Beth Ferguson

David’s research involves maintaining a tool called “Electric Vehicle (EV) Explorer, a tool that helps consumers decide whether an electric vehicle is right for them. Specifically, David is involved in researching inputs such as updated vehicle purchase and leasing costs, maintenance costs, and incentive amounts.


Janet JinJanet Jin

Major: Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning
Mentor: Dr. Elisa Barbour

Janet will investigate how cities in California are adopting plans and policies to support transit-oriented development (TOD), transit, and active transport. Specifically, Janet will draft case studies on selected California cities that assess their motivations, obstacles, and priorities for promoting development near transit.


Eben KohnEben Kohn

Major: Managerial Economics
Mentor: Dr. Debapriya Chakraborty

Eben is contributing to research conducted at the UC Davis Plug-in Hybrid & Electric Vehicle (PH&EV) Research Center. He will be contributing to an investigation of models that predict household vehicle choice and travel behavior. As of now, these models are mainly focused on gasoline vehicles, whereas Eben and his team will investigate how these models can be improved to account for electric vehicles as well.


Min KyawMin Kyaw

Major: Environmental Science and Management
Mentor: Dr. Fraser Shilling

Min is analyzing the impact of COVID-19-related stay-at-home orders on the occurrences of wildlife-traffic collisions. Analyses are being conducted through Caltrans' Performance Measurement System (PeMS) traffic data source and the California Highway Patrol's (CHP) vehicular incident reports. Additionally, Min will be assisting fellowship advisor Fraser Shilling by tagging wildlife images captured on the Wildlife Observer Network's (WON) camera operations for future analyses. 


Leo McGrathLeo McGrath

Major: Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Nesrin Serigul-Klijn

Leo is researching how to reduce unmanned aerial system noise levels with a focus on smaller package delivery systems. As a part of this effort, Leo will be designing a deployment system for a noise reduction device called a microtab that Professor Sarigul-Klijn researched.


Mae MoninghoffMae Moninghoff

Major: Cognitive Science and Computer Science
Mentors: PH&EV Center

Mae is assisting in the development of an intelligent fuel-optimization algorithm for hybrid electric vehicles which utilizes GPS data and charger location data to predict when a driver will next be able to charge their vehicle. She will be working alongside graduate students in writing the code required to achieve this goal, as well as organizing and supplying relevant data to her team, such as charger location and usage statistics.


Tricia NguyenTricia Nguyen

Major: Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology
Mentor: Dr. Fraser Shilling

Tricia will work with the UC Davis Road Ecology Center to help research the impacts of the California COVID-19 stay-at-home order on the frequency of wildlife-vehicle conflicts and the effect of sea level rise on shoreline birds in habitat near coastal transportation infrastructure. Tricia will analyze Freeway Performance Measurement System (PeMS) and California Highway Incident Processing System (CHIPS) data, as well as develop a method for analyzing videos from time-lapse cameras at shoreline habitats. 


Zachary RamalingamZachary Ramalingam

Major: Civil Engineering
Mentor: Dr. John Harvey

Zachary is conducting research related to the development of a life cycle assessment framework for complete streets project. In particular, he is reviewing performance measures for equity by examining case studies and testing the feasibility of the proposed socio-economic indicators. 


Malak SalehMalak Saleh

Major: Environmental Science and Management
Mentor: Dr. Fraser Shilling

Malak is working with a group of undergrad students to analyze the effects the COVID-19 stay at home order has had on the rate of wildlife vehicle conflicts in California. Malak is performing a data analysis to determine if there is any correlation between reductions in traffic and reductions in wildlife vehicle collisions. She is also working on a separate project to track the presence of wildlife near highways in the East Bay.


Grant SlesGrant Sles

Major: Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning
Mentor: Dr. Dillon Fitch

Grant is studying the relationship between the active transportation planning process and gentrification in the Sacramento area. Specifically, he is evaluating the public engagement efforts made by transportation planners developing active transportation plans in low-income neighborhoods.


Chantheary SothChantheary Soth

Major: Computer Science
Mentors: Dr. Angela Sanguinetti & Dr. Beth Ferguson

Chantheary is working on the full-stack development of a custom survey tool that proposes design strategies for shared automated vehicles to encourage ride-share and mitigate risk to passenger privacy and safety. The survey will provide insight to passenger behavior by their response to a given shared autonomous vehicle design followed by various scenarios. This custom survey tool will provide great flexibility in creating a more realistic and interactive experience for survey participants.


Gabrielle TrujilloGabrielle Trujillo

Major: Biological Sciences
Mentor: Dr. Fraser Shilling

Gabrielle is participating in organizing and analyzing data on animal collisions in relation to traffic values. She is utilizing systems, including PeMS and CHIPS, to draw conclusions on how the COVID-19 pandemic possibly alters trends in wildlife traffic incidents.


Anna Anna Wang

Major: Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning
Mentor: Dr. Susan Handy

Anna worked with her mentor, Susan Handy, on her research in finding factors that influence teenager’s attitudes towards driving. Anna composed the literature review to find existing research on the relationship between communication patterns among families and driving behavior, the impact of a graduated license system (GLS) on delayed licensure, and the associations of personality, self-identity, and peer behavior on adolescent attitudes on driving. In addition, Anna researched the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on transportation for the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in a project that identifies barriers to reduce the carbon footprint of transportation. Anna investigated and tracked changes in transportation policy and operations that emerged as a result of the pandemic.  


2019 NCST Undergraduate Research Fellows

fellow photoSonia Anthoine

Major: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Mentors: Dr. Susan Handy & Dr. Dillon Fitch

Sonia used travel data from two waves of surveys conducted in the Sacramento Region to better understand travel behavior in California's capital and the surrounding area. Sonia's analysis was part of a larger body of work that will provide valuable information that will help cities create better plans and regulations to promote reductions in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) through the use of bike and scooter share and other active transportation options.

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fellow photoNoam Baharav

Major: Environmental Science and Management
Mentors: Dr. Gil Tal & Dr. Debapriya Chakraborty

Noam is first author on a study submitted for review to the Transportation Research Board. Her study was the first to examine gender differences in charging behavior for plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles (collectively known as PEVs) and potential motivations or barriers behind these behaviors. Noam conducted extensive literature review, transcription and overview of 40 participant interviews, performed data cleaning, and assisted with statistical analysis. Collaborating with and assisted by her mentors, Noam co-wrote the research paper for review. The study uncovered statistically significant gender differences in PEV charging behavior and explored potential causes for these differences.

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fellow photoScott Begneski

Major: Civil Engineering
Mentors: Dr. Gil Tal & Dr. Debapriya Chakraborty

Scott will be supporting a project funded by BMW to understand the integration of used electric vehicles in the campus vehicle fleet.  The campus collects data from the vehicles in both the daily and hourly rental fleet, and this data will be analyzed to compare how the electric vehicles are used compared to conventional gasoline or diesel vehicles or hybrid vehicles. The goals of this project are to understand the challenges to EV adoption in fleets, and potential cost savings, and the user experience.


fellow photoBingchu Chen

Major: Geography and Environmental Studies
Mentors: Dr. Susan Handy & Dr. Dillon Fitch

Bingchu assisted with a literature review and data analysis in a research synthesis project about the benefits of bike/pedestrian programs and projects with a specific look at safety outcomes from road designs. The project focused on studies that quantify benefits from programs and projects with a focus on intervention and natural experiments, which will help inform California's process for reviewing proposals submitted for funding through the Active Transportation Program (ATP). This project also considered the current laws and regulations for designing and planning roads with a focus on safety outcomes and antecedents. It included current methods for setting speed limits and examined the California specific laws on road design, which part of the synthesis helped inform the California Zero Traffic Fatality Task Force (AB 2363).

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fellow photoLorna Haworth

Major: Environmental Science and Management - Ecology
Mentor: Dr. Gwen Arnold

Lorna’s research project consisted of a literature review about wildlife crossings across roadways. Data was collected from scholarly journals of specific projects under an array of parameters. Some of these parameters include geographic location, ecosystem, species type, listed status, and the degree to which success is measured. From this cumulation of data, Lorna analyzed and reported trends among wildlife corridors in the United States.

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fellow photoDanielle Levin

Major: Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning
Mentors: Dr. Giovanni Circella & Grant Matson

Danielle assisted in the data refining and preliminary analysis process for a survey project that focuses on attitudes surrounding emerging transportation trends.  The survey involves a social science approach and reflects how apprehensive or excited different generations are about the future of autonomous vehicles.

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2018 NCST Undergraduate Research Fellows

Thomas BradasThomas Bradas

Major: Civil Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Gil Tal

Thomas worked with his peers to conduct a research project on the effect of high ambient temperatures on plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) charging efficiency. Thomas coordinated the project with respect to PEV owners, managed regular temperature measurements, and developed functions for the calculations involved. Thomas also contributed to other projects at the Plug-in Hybrid & Electric Vehicle (PH&EV) Research Center, including studies on PEV usage and market availability.

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Jenny CallanJenny Callan

Major: Civil Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Deb Niemeier

Jenny’s research project involved providing data for the Texas RioGrande Legal Aid group which represents a low-income, minority neighborhood that borders Mexico and are battling city plans to move a bus hub to an underprivileged high school area. She calculated the difference between emissions generated from diesel and propane buses, in particular CO, NOx, PM10, PM2.5 and VOC emissions, to provide support to the legal group’s claims. Jenny also applied the Title VI Civil Rights Act of 1964, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s school siting guidelines, and National Ambient Air Quality Standards to her findings as an added level of analysis for this project.

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Valerie ChangValerie Chang

Major: Civil Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Deb Niemeier

Valerie’s research investigated pavement smoothness, bicycle dynamic measurements, and their relationship to ride quality. Specifically, she examined the relationship between bicycle ride quality and traditional pavement roughness measurement, and bicycle accelerations and steering angle indices. Valerie used 30 bike path sections with a representative range of pavement surface conditions to collect acceleration data, steering angle data, GPS location data, and mean texture depth data.

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Jonathan DoyleJonathan Doyle

Major: Mechanical Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Paul Erickson

Jonathan developed an experimental setup for measuring the thermodynamic and heat transfer performance of a gas turbine compressor stator at various operating parameters. His work involved the preliminary design and modeling in SolidWorks and ANSYS Fluent, fabrication of the stator, and identification of instrumentation as well as controls. The results of this work formed a basis for subsequent experimentation within the Energy Research Lab’s Fuel Integrated Energy Recuperative Aero-Derivative (FIERA) project.

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Parisa FarmanParisa Farman

Major: Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology
Mentor: Dr. Fraser Shilling

Parisa conducted research on projects for the UC Davis Road Ecology Lab that focused on analyzing roadkill data and investigating the use of wildlife crossing structures. Parisa helped to set up motion sensor cameras in and around wildlife crossing structures, identifying species in the photos that are taken by the cameras, and reading through California Highway Patrol reports regarding traffic accidents with wildlife.

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Jonathan GordonJonathan Gordon

Major: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Gil Tal

Jon worked on a variety of projects at the Plug-in Hybrid & Electric Vehicle (PH&EV) Research Center. He assisted in the data collection effort for an ongoing multi-year study called the electric Vehicle Miles Traveled (eVMT) study, analyzing the use patterns of domestic plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). Jon also worked with other NCST summer researcher fellows to construct their own methodology, implementation, and analysis for a study to determine the effects of extreme temperature on electric battery charging efficiency with the goal of advising policy makers and PEV owners.

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Mia GuarnieriMia Guarnieri

Major: Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology
Mentor: Dr. Fraser Shilling

Mia worked on a UC Davis Road Ecology Center project that investigated how light and noise pollution affect the wildlife usage of crossing structures under highways. She helped to set-up and take down camera traps at crossings and in the surrounding area, identify species in the collected photos, and sort through photos in an online database, noting animal species and activity.

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Nathaniel KongNathaniel Kong

Major: Managerial Economics and Computer Science
Mentor: Dr. Gil Tal

Nathan worked with his mentor on multiple projects related to electric vehicles. His main project measured the charging efficiency of cars in order to analyze how much energy is lost to temperature, specifically, high temperatures. Nathan also worked on the ongoing eVMT (electric Vehicle Miles Traveled) Project to help study how people use plug-in electric vehicles in their fleet of vehicles.

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Kelila KrantzKelila Krantz

Major: International Relations
Mentor: Dr. Susan Pike

Kelila worked with her mentor on researching the sustainable transportation implications of on-demand ride services. She is analyzed interviews with relevant stakeholders, such as state agencies, California metropolitan planning organizations, regional transportation planning agencies, and the ridehailing industry. Kelila also conducted a literature review of past studies, analyzing the potential outcomes of these services related to vehicle miles traveled, congestion, emissions, and public transit use.

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Brandon ToyBrandon Toy

Major: Civil Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Michael Zhang

Brandon and his team, in collaboration with the California Department of Transportation, researched the effects of adding a Yellow Border to the Pedestrian Signal. The desired effect was to decrease the number of pedestrian violations while increasing the visibility of pedestrians so that vehicles would drive more cautiously around them. He helped to record pedestrian and vehicle data and conduct surveys.

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Brian WalkerBrian Walker

Major: Mechanical Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Francis Assadian

Brian worked with his mentor to simulate lithium-ion battery degradation using MATLAB and Simulink. Solar PV arrays and ultra capacitors were added to electric bus simulations to better understand how lithium batteries degrade over time in order to find better ways of achieving longevity of the battery. By achieving more longevity, charge cycles increase and it becomes more useful for public transit, as well as more cost effective over time.

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2017 NCST Undergraduate Research Fellows

Kathryn CanepaKathryn Canepa

Major: Sustainable Environmental Design
Mentor: Dr. Gil Tal

Kathryn worked with her mentor to write a paper for the Transportation Research Board exploring plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) use in disadvantaged communities. Kathryn is helping with GIS analysis to quantify topics like the share of PEV owners in these communities and how many PEV owners have incomes lower than the California median household income. Kathryn is also helping with additional research that looks at current PEV use with the goal of making electric vehicles more accessible to lower income demographics.

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Monica GonzalezMonica Gonzalez

Major: Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning; Political Science-Public Service
Mentor: Dr. Giovanni Circella

Monica worked with her faculty mentor to design a transportation behavior survey for The Sustainable City in Dubai. The study looks at individual’s mobility needs and preferences to characterize a car-sharing program and identify incentives to promote sustainable transportation.

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Thomas GuoThomas Guo

Major: Civil Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Alan Jenn

Thomas worked with his mentor on researching the environmental and public safety benefits of connected vehicles by reviewing their overall greenhouse gas and traffic reductions, along with their potential for accident prevention.

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Joseph KaylorJoseph Kaylor

Major: Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning
Mentors: Dr. Jamey Volker and Amy Lee

This summer, Joe worked with his mentors to produce case studies for cities in California to research the relationship between transportation impact metrics and land use development patterns. Specifically, Senate Bill 743’s recommendation to switch from Level of Service to Vehicle Miles Traveled as the threshold metric for transportation related environmental impacts in environmental review.

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Maia MoranMaia Moran

Major: Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning
Mentor: Dr. Gil Tal

Maia identified and analyzed the impacts of ‘shocks’ to the electric vehicle market in select states and countries by measuring long-term policy and incentive changes. Statistical models paired with a content analysis of policies and incentives have been deployed to measure significant market changes and the potentially distributed impacts of isolated shocks to electric vehicle adoption. The collected data intends to inform policymakers and automakers about the influence of market changes and long-term coordination to support market development.

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Blythe NishiBlythe Nishi

Major: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Debbie Niemeier

Blythe researched how priority development areas in the Bay Area are being implemented and supported by their local counties and Congestion Management Agencies. She looked at the transit investments and regulations aimed at them, as well as how effective these areas are in providing opportunities for locals and easily accessible transit, jobs, shopping and services.

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Callum WattsCallum Watts

Major: Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning
Mentor: Dr. Rebecca Hernandez

Callum worked with the AridLab team to calculate the photovoltaic potential of parking lots associated with the largest commercial buildings in the United States, and quantify this potential energy in terms of a building-specific electricity generation and electricity consumption balance. This was accomplished by using both the ArcGIS and Aurora platforms to calculate parking lot areas and perform cloud-based solar optimization analysis.

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2016 NCST Undergraduate Research Fellows

Esther Robles De Wence and Praewa (Patty) BoonlueEsther Robles De Wence and Praewa (Patty) Boonlue

Major: Environmental Science and Management
Mentor: Dr. Rebecca Hernandez

Patty and Esther worked together to research photovoltaic (PV) solar energy-generating systems. Their goal was to quantify the potential of rooftop-mounted PV systems deployed on 25 of the largest buildings in the United States and compare the amount space on land that rooftop-mounted PV systems save to ground-mounted, utility-scale PV power plants.

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Freshta PirzadaFreshta Pirzada

Major: Civil Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Giovanni Circella

Freshta worked with a group of graduate students to determine what affects young adults’ choices of mobility. She helped to analyze the responses of over 2,000 young adults to determine how certain factors (e.g., home type, commute distance, travel patterns, city type) influence travel choices. Once patterns and overall preferences are determined, land use and transportation planners can use this information to ensure the mobility needs of young adults are being met.

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Itsel GuzmanItsel Guzman

Major: Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning
Mentor: Dr. Lew Fulton

Itsel researched the social and economic viability of dynamic ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft. The study looks at the growth and efficiency of ride share services, and their impacts on carpooling and car ownership in the future.

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Juliet MartinJuliet Martin

Major: Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning and Communications
Mentor: Dr. Fraser Shilling

Juliet worked with the Road Ecology Center at UC Davis to research the impact of transportation systems on wildlife. This research studies how transportation infrastructure affects the behavior and movement of wildlife. The goal of her project is to effectuate low-impact, sustainable transportation policies beneficial to wildlife wellbeing.

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Tului GantulgaTului Gantulga

Major: Civil Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Miguel Jaller

Tului researched strategies to improve the efficiency of urban freight deliveries considering delivery times, sequence of stops, costs, and the economic and environmental impact of congestion. He created a program that takes requests at any time of the day and calculates the most efficient way of picking up/dropping off a package based on previously mentioned considerations. The program also gathers traffic data from Google at different times of the day and different days of the week to be able to work offline.

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