Seigel Named the 2020 TIDC Outstanding Student of the Year

Posted on October 21, 2020

Orono, ME – Virtual

The Transportation Infrastructure Durability Center (TIDC) located at the University of Maine announced the 2020 TIDC Outstanding Student of the Year at the TIDC Student Recognition Night held virtually on October 21. For the past 29 years, the U.S. Department of Transportation has honored an outstanding graduate student from each active University Transportation Center (UTC) for the achievements and accomplishments in the transportation field during the year. Students are selected by each UTC based on their accomplishment in such areas as technical merit and research, academic performance, professionalism, and leadership. The selected students from each UTC are honored at a banquet each January in Washington D.C. in conjunction with the Transpiration Research Board’s Annual Meeting. However, due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and in the best interest of the health and safety of all attendees, a virtual awards ceremony is being planned for Wednesday, January 6, 2021.

This year, TIDC received three nominations to be considered for this prestigious award and recognition at the National Ceremony: Braedon Kohler, a Mechanical Engineering student from the University of Maine; Diarmuid Gregory, a Mechanical Engineering student from the University of Vermont; and Rachel Seigel, a Civil & Environmental Engineering student from the University of Vermont. All three students have provided significant contributions to TIDC’s research efforts, received excellent letters of recommendation from faculty and transportation industry professionals, and are worthy of recognition on a National level. It gives TIDC great pleasure to announce the recipient of the 2020 TIDC Outstanding Student of the Year Award is Rachel Seigel of the University of Vermont.

Rachel Seigel

Rachel received a nomination letter from Dr. Mandar Dewoolkar (her advisor) and a letter of support from Dr. Donna Rizzo (one of her professors). Dr. Dewoolkar started his nomination letter stating “Rachel’s intelligence and strong work ethic are reflected in her academic work as well as her research.” Dr. Dewoolkar states that he has known Rachel for over a year and has seen “her enthusiastic drive and determination in all of her endeavors.” According to both letters, Rachel is commended for her hard-work and her drive to achieve high quality outputs as a result of her work. Dr. Rizzo stated she has known Rachel for about 5 years and was, at Dr. Rizzo’s encouragement, selected to receive a competitive internship with the engineering department during her undergraduate studies. Rachel is noted as teaching herself skills to progress in her research, including teaching herself C++. Rachel’s leadership skills have been praised in both letters. Dr. Rizzo stated, “Rachel has a curiosity, patience, and intellectual horsepower to be successful in open-ended research projects. But more importantly, I believe her to be a natural leader.” Rachel has taken on a number of mentorship roles, led several class projects, helped with lab protocols, lead students in her own research activities, acted as a Technical Advisor for two student teams, and teaches students how to use HEC-RAS program. Dr. Dewoolkar praised Rachel’s “excellent communication skills which were evident in the many presentations she made to TIDC, Vermont Agency of Transportation, and our graduate student seminar series.” Additionally, Dr. Dewoolkar mentions that Rachel’s technical writing skills are evident in the reports and research proposals she has written.