Muntahith Orvin, MASc '20, Civil Engineering

Muntahith Orvin
"Passion and motivation are the key to conquering against all the odds. You will feel immense satisfaction when solving a problem you are passionate about."

I am a graduating student from the Civil Engineering program (transportation) at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan campus. I started my journey at UBCO in January of 2019. Since my childhood, I have had a deep interest towards engineering. During my undergraduate days in Bangladesh, I had a dream of pursuing higher studies in a reputed institution. My long-cherished dream came true when I stepped foot at UBC - one of the top ranked universities in the world. My master’s thesis is related to understanding the travel behavior of shared services users (e.g. bikeshare). It is highly encouraging to conduct research activities in such a wonderful environment at UBCO. I am passionate about sports such as soccer and cricket. I also enjoy travelling and photography during leisure time. Kelowna is a wonderful place to do such activities. One of my favorite places in Kelowna is Knox mountain park. I like to spend time with my family and hang out with friends.

Why did you choose to go into your field of study at UBC?

When I was in high school, my science teacher said, “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Throughout the gamut of my life, this message has been an inciting force to learn and explore. My research interests evolved into shared mobility services, integrated land use and transportation, and transportation planning. I started looking for opportunities to pursue higher studies from a reputed institution while I was in my final year of my undergraduate studies in Bangladesh. In this process, I found Centre for Transportation and Land Use Research (CeTLUR) at UBCO. CeTLUR is led by Dr. Mahmudur Fatmi, a transportation professor at UBCO. Research in CeTLUR evolves within the broad research domain of integrated transportation and land use planning, with a particular focus on transportation and land use interactions, autonomous vehicle adoption, shared mobility usage, transit planning, activity-based modelling, urban system microsimulation, vehicular emissions and energy modelling, road safety analysis and survey design and methods. The focus of this lab matches with my career goal and research interests. Hence, I applied to UBCO to join the enthusiastic CeTLUR team and develop my knowledge further in the domain of my research interests.

What has made your time at UBC memorable?

There are a number of milestones I have achieved so far. For example, I attended the 99th Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. in January 2020. I presented three research papers in this prestigious conference for transportation researchers. It was a unique experience for me, and I learned a lot regarding what is happening in the domain of transportation engineering. 
I would like to mention my achievement of several awards such as the Graduate Deans Entrance Scholarship (GDES), the University Graduate Fellowship (UGF), the UBCSUO legacy fund, and the TUUM student Initiative Fund. These recognitions have made my UBC journey memorable and wonderful. 

What has been your most valuable non-academic experience studying at UBC?

I always tried to take part in both academic and non-academic events organized by UBC. For instance, the Engineering Graduate Students Society (EGSS) organized a camping trip to Banff and Jasper last year during the summer season. It was truly a memorable and refreshing trip for me. I also joined the Big White Ski Resort event organized by the Graduate Student Community Facilitators. It was really fun using snowboards for the first time. I attended the Muslim Student Association (MSA) Meet and Greet Social, which was extremely helpful for getting acquainted with other graduate students. I am also an active member of the UBC Okanagan Bangladeshi group. I attended a number of programs arranged by this group such as the badminton night, the bowling night and the victory day celebration. I always love to take part in any event on-campus for graduate students as well. I often joined the UBC Bark program. Playing with the pets was very helpful in releasing stress. These non-academic events refreshed my mind and to a great extent increased my concentration level in research activities. Doing so improved my mental health and made my campus life stress-free and enjoyable. 

Tell us about your experience in your program. What have you learned that is most valuable?

The most precious things I have learned are the capacities for problem-solving, rational thinking, working as a part of a team, and academic integrity. These valuable skills along with hard work and the utmost dedication have allowed me to be successful in my higher studies. I am extremely lucky to work under Dr. Fatmi’s insightful supervision. His continuous encouragement and motivation helped me tremendously to raise my academic and personal standards. 

How are you applying the skills you learned through your studies at UBC?

My research potential has been improved considerably while studying at UBCO. I have started a PhD program at UBCO with the enriched knowledge from my master’s program. I have learned advanced econometric modeling techniques from my supervisor to predict travel behavior. I am applying these methods to investigate integrated land use and transportation modeling in my PhD studies. Furthermore, I am working with both graduate and undergraduate students and sharing up-to-date research ideas with them.

What advice would you give a student entering your degree program?

First of all, I would like to say ‘Know Thyself’ — know your motivation and interests. Devotion and passion are two important things that make you successful in the long run. A graduate degree in civil engineering is certainly challenging. Sometimes, perplexing situations will arise and you might feel stuck. Passion and motivation are the key to conquering against all the odds. You will feel immense satisfaction when solving a problem you are passionate about. Moreover, never forget to try the fun stuff in your graduate life. It will certainly release stress and keep you motivated.

How do you feel your degree has benefitted you compared to a different field of study?

Transportation engineering is the application of technology and scientific principles to the planning, functional design, operation and management of facilities for any mode of transportation in order to provide for the safe, efficient, rapid, comfortable, convenient, economical and environmentally compatible movement of people and goods. Understanding travel behavior is extremely important to predict the future of transportation. Planners and decision-makers require appropriate input from researchers to plan for a city with sustainable transportation. In the present era, research in this area is very demanding. Therefore, I consider my master’s degree from UBCO exceptionally helpful in my future endeavors.  

Where do you find your inspiration?

My supervisor Dr. Fatmi is my mentor. It is an honor for me to work under his insightful supervision. I am deeply grateful to him for his precious suggestions, for sharing his vast wisdom with me, for showing me the right way when I was stuck, for providing continuous motivation to publish, for boosting my confidence, and for supporting me not only as a mentor but also as a friend. He set a high standard in my mind through his leadership and problem-solving capabilities. He helped me tremendously to raise my academic and personal standards. I greatly appreciate my thesis supervisory committee members for their recommendations at every stage of my research work. I also acknowledge the overall support of my family members and CeTLUR team members.

What are your immediate and/or long-term plans for the future?

My immediate plan is to continue my PhD research at UBCO with the same spirit and dedication. I am currently working on integrated land use and transportation modeling under Dr. Fatmi. My reason for attending this PhD program after my master’s is to become a prominent researcher and educator in the fields of transportation planning and engineering.

What are your future plans to make a difference in our world?

My future plan is to continue to research and contribute to the society with enriched knowledge and skills.

View more 2020 Student Stars at apsc.ubc.ca/students/stars/2020.