2016 Student of the Year

The ATLAS Center supports an annual Student of the Year Program to recognize student achievement.

This year the winning student from U-M received a stipend and support to travel to the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC) and  the 95th Annual Transportation Board (TRB) meetings held in Washington, DC from January 9-12, 2016.

ATLAS Center Outstanding Student of the Year – $1,000 Award

1/20/15 Headshots of UMTRI staffTessa Elwart - CUTC Award Photo

Tessa Elwart  graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan in December 2015. Throughout her junior and senior years, Tessa conducted research at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) in the Driver Interface Group with Dr. Paul Green. While at UMTRI, she worked on the ATLAS-sponsored research project “Predicting Driver Distraction Using Computed Occlusion Task Times: Estimation of Task Element Times and Distributions.” The purpose of this study was to estimate task times while using a navigation-radio to determine if a task was excessively distracting. The information gained from the results of this study can be used to change the design of navigation-radios to be less distracting. Tessa was responsible for several aspects of this research including conducting literature reviews, data reduction and analysis, and editing and writing reports. Due to Tessa’s extensive contribution to this research project, in addition to her excellent writing skills and in-depth knowledge of the study, she was named first author of the technical report. Tessa has continually impressed her mentors with her diligent work ethic and meticulous attention to detail. Her overall professionalism and commitment to transportation safety research has made Tessa an excellent choice to receive the Student of the Year award.

Tessa plans to gain work experience in the automotive industry before returning to school to pursue a graduate degree.

Runner-Up Student of the Year – $500 Award

Daniel Crecca Photodansoywithplaque

Daniel Crecca  is a sophomore studying Industrial Operations Engineering and a research assistant at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. He is currently assisting in a project aiming to improve the safety of older heavy vehicle drivers. Daniel assisted in the research, finding prior work that could add value to the project, and writing the introduction to the literature review. Moving forward he will assist in the interview process for truckers and transportation industry professionals.

Daniel is interested in using crash data from heavy vehicles to determine what action the industry should decide to take regarding their diminishing workforce. Using this data as well as firsthand accounts, he hopes to help the department in recommending new safety policies to trucking companies in order to limit the negative effects of a quickly aging workforce, as well as reverse the trend of a shrinking number of drivers.

Dan wants to pursue a minor in business from the Ross School of Business in addition to his Industrial Operations Engineering major. His interests beyond graduation range from consulting, to supply chain management, to marketing. He hopes to use his engineering education to bridge the gap between the business and engineering world.


Check out the other Students of the Year by clicking on the links below:

2014 Student of the Year

2015 Student of the Year


The ATLAS Center is a collaboration between the University of Michigan (U-M) Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) and Texas A&M Transportation Institute