Five students selected for fellowships

Rameau Morency’s poster presentation on hydrogen fuel cell cars and how they are the future of transportation. Photo courtesy Morency

Five students at Florida A&M University have been selected as fellows for the Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program (DDEFTP).

It awards fellowships to students pursing degrees in transportation-related studies. The program focuses on recruiting the nation’s top students to the field of transportation.

The program started in 1983 for graduate research fellowships and quickly evolved in 1991 after the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act. Since then, the DDEFTP has awarded more than $50 million to those in the transportation industry.

The fellowship includes a stipend that will help fund a research project that is related to the transportation industry. Graduate student Johnathan Bailey says that he is doing research on sustainable options, including solar energy, as it relates to motor vehicles.

“This benefits me personally by ultimately allowing me to complete my own engineering research on my own terms with virtually no limits. The reason why I’m doing this project specifically is for the help it can be to others in the Tallahassee community,” Bailey said.

Due to the pandemic, those vying for the fellowship had to participate virtually this year instead of the annual conference in Washington. FAMU senior Rameau Morency explained how things were done differently this year.

“First, we submitted our pitches that included a virtual poster. Once our pitches are approved the presentations are uploaded to a website, then other people are able to ask us questions and inquire about our specific proposals.”

 Morency’s project is focused on how hydrogen can be used as an alternative fuel for transportation.

The fellowship has three different categories which include: DDETFP Graduate Fellowship, which provides funding for students to pursue master’s or doctoral degrees in transportation-related disciplines; DDETFP Local Competition encourages institutions of higher education that are minority serving institutions and community colleges to apply for administering a DDETFP competition on their campus; and DDETFP Grants for Research Fellowship is structured to provide opportunities for students to work with USDOT program offices which are interested in attracting workforce-ready students pursuing advanced degrees in transportation-related disciplines.

FAMU senior Brandon Graham was one of those awarded a fellowship for his presentation at the Transportations Research Board’s annual meeting. Grahams project is named “Smart Car Seat to Prevent Heat-Related Death of Children Left Alone Inside Cars.”

 In this project Graham focuses on smart car seats geared towards toddlers and children. He explained that his proposal included looking into notifying parents who would leave their children in cars unattended. This car seat would send out a notification that the car is getting too hot or too cold and the toddlers vitals are no longer where they should be.

“The fellowship awards up to $5,000 in scholarship money, which helped him pay for his final semester at FAMU. These projects are helping to advance not only the community but the world because transportation is never going to go away, we’re always going to need to get from point A to point B,” Graham said.

Transportation and public health officials regularly conduct research in an effort to reduce transportation-related casualties, providing easy access to healthcare services, mitigating environmental impacts and reducing the transmission of communicable diseases.