2009 Student of the Year: Joseph Zissman

Advisor: Yu Nie

CCITT selected Joseph Zissman as its 2009 Student of the Year. Zissman, born and raised in Newton, Massachusetts, is a member of the Class of 2011 at Northwestern University majoring in Civil and Environmental Engineering, to which he hopes to add a minor in Political Science.  In Summer 2009, Zissman worked at the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) headquarters for eleven weeks on a research project under the direction of Professor Yu Nie in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. During his time at the CTA headquarters, Zissman worked as a research liaison between the CTA Technology Department and Professor Nie’s lab. He helped Professor Nie, his graduate student researchers, and a CTA project manager in an effort to extract time and location information from a database of bus automatic vehicle locator (AVL) sensor readings.

Zissman’s specific role at CTA was to work with CTA technical staff to optimize the software used to convert raw bus time and location reports to speeds on known street segments. Professor Nie’s lab continues to use this information to develop travel congestion forecasts for Chicago arterial streets. Zissman made noteworthy contributions to the project by learning Oracle database management software, writing software code in Oracle API, and dealing with the complex interface between Oracle SPATIAL datasets and ESRI’s Arc GIS software package. At the end of the project, his CTA mentor was so impressed with Zissman’s work that he commented to Professor Nie that Joe “did not know how good he is.”