Carnegie Mellon University

Sean Qian

April 15, 2019

Qian Awarded Posner, Molloy, and Pietrandrea Career Development Chair in Civil Engineering

A car breaks down. An accident halts traffic. A few streets away, a road closes for construction. In many cities, congested roadways are simply inescapable.

With his research, CEE Assistant Professor Zhen (Sean) Qian is working toward a different world, one where real-time and historical data allow us to better manage our aging and overcrowded infrastructure. Through data modeling and frameworks, Qian is not only finding ways to reduce congestion, energy use and emissions within existing systems but also to design sustainable, resilient, and intelligent infrastructure for the future.

As director of Carnegie Mellon’s Mobility Data Analytics Center (MAC), Qian integrates massive amounts of data from various agencies and private sector to look holistically at our transportation systems. By analyzing data on weather, parking, public transit, roadway, incidents, events, and more, Qian can better understand travel behavior, identify efficient management strategies, and develop decision-making tools for legislators, transportation planners, engineers, researchers, and even travelers.

Qian has previously received a Greenshields Prize from the Transporation Research Board and an NSF CAREER Award for his work. Now, he’s being honored with the inaugural Henry Posner, Anne Molloy, and Robert and Christine Pietrandrea Career Development Chair in Civil Engineering, an endowed term professorship created to support a faculty member in the early phases of their career.

“I am extremely honored to receive this endowed professorship at the early stage of my career,” say Qian. “This early career development chair would not only provide resources to advance my research, but also allow me to further expand on the impact of my work, particularly understanding the societal consequence of emerging technologies to infrastructure and human beings. I am so grateful for the recognition and to the support from Mr. and Mrs. Pietrandrea, Mr. Posner, and Ms. Molloy.”

This prestigious award was made possible by the generosity of Robert and Christine Pietrandrea, who chose to honor their long-time friends Henry Posner III and Anne Molloy in the naming of the chair. Robert Pietrandrea and Posner have together run the Railroad Development Corporation (RDC) since 1987, and Anne Molloy, Posner’s wife, is a Carnegie Mellon trustee. The Posner family has previously supported the construction of Carnegie Mellon’s Posner Center and provided significant contributions to the Presidential Scholarship program.

“With his focus in transportation research and education, coupled with his hard work and creativity, Sean Qian is an ideal first recipient of this first early-career development chair for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering,” said Dave Dzombak, Hamerschlag University Professor and CEE Department Head. He added, “We are very grateful for the generous gift that made this career development chair possible. It strengthens permanently our department and the work that we do on infrastructure and the environment.”