When Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Michael Cassidy suggested a side trip up to the University Club on Wednesday June 20, 2018, his colleague Professor of the Graduate School Carlos Daganzo went with it. When they stepped off the elevators and rounded the corner, around 50 former students and grand students and colleagues surprised him in honor of his 70th birthday with a reception and Transportation Symposium.
“I am so delighted you all organized this, I am extremely moved,” says Daganzo. “Thank you so much. I became a professor because of you, not to write papers or books.”
With a reception, dinner and keynote speaker held in his honor on Wednesday, Daganzo was also presented with the Enduring Academic Legacy Award from Berkeley ITS in recognition of his foundational contributions to transportation science and passionate dedication to mentoring.
“He taught us how to think and to reach our full potential,” says keynote speaker, independent business adviser Larry Burns, who first met then-GM consultant Daganzo while Burns was a UC Berkeley student intern at GM over 40 years ago. “He taught us to focus on what matters, and because of him, we’re concentrating on the next 70 years.”
Beyond recognizing Daganzo and his contributions, the reception was also an opportunity to catch up with old friends, students and colleagues and for former classmates to reunite, before heading into a day-long research exchange on Thursday at the David Brower Center.
“Being here, I realize that I am having so much fun at a conference,” says Daganzo. “I usually find them boring, wrong, and full of mistakes, but this is the only one where there is not a single bad presentation.”
Symposium topics included: Transportation Logistics, Public Transit, Traffic Science and Transportation Research Needs for the Future, as well as Daganzo the mentor, and featured speakers Burns, Cassidy (Berkeley), Yanfeng Ouyang (UIUC), Nik Geroliminis (EPFL), Yuwei Li (Ara Inst of Canterbury, New Zealand), Randy Hall (USC), Al Erera (Georgia Tech), Karen Smilowitz (Northwestern), Max Shen (UC Berkeley), Juan Carlos Munoz (Pontifica U Catolica de Chile), Yafeng Yin (U of Michigan), Eric Gonzales (U Mass), Marco Nie (Northwestern), Celeste Chavis (Morgan State), Sue Ahn (U of Wisconsin), Hani Mahmassani (Northwestern), Jorge Laval (Georgia Tech), Ludovic Leclercq (U of Lyon, France), Vikash Gayah (Penn State), Rob Bertini (U of S. Florida), Samer Madant (NYU Abu Dhabi), Mike Zhang (UC Davis), Francesc Robuste (Barcelona Poly), and Monica Menendez (NYU Abu Dhabi).
Sessions focused on transportation topics from Daganzo’s former students and colleagues, building on Daganzo’s legacy, but each speaker also took time to speak about the man himself.
“Fortunately, we have known Carlos beyond his textbook, we came to know him, and we came face to face with his generosity,” says Cassidy. “That’s why we all came here today — not just to say nice things, but we wanted to tell you we realize we are special recipients of your generosity and are just beginning to realize the difference you made in our lives. And we are doing the best we can to spread it out.”
The symposium was dedicated Daganzo in recognition of his transformative contributions to areas within transportation science that include econometrics, logistics, freight operations, network theory, traffic flow, and transit operations. His impacts on the field continue to be phenomenal, his former students hold faculty positions at top ranked schools the world over, and his graduate level textbooks, including “Fundamentals of Transportation and Traffic Operations,” are widely used both in the US and abroad to teach new generations of transport scholars.
The three-day event wrapped up with a trip to Rodeo Beach in Main County.
Daganzo first arrived at the UC Berkeley campus as an Assistant Professor for the spring semester in 1977 and his first PhD student at Berekely, Jürg M. Sparmann, also attended the three-day event.
In addition to his teaching and mentoring roles, Daganzo also was the Director of the Center of Excellence for Future Urban Transport, is a co-founder, chairman of the board, and principal scientists of Via Analytics, a California benefit corporation devoted to improving mobility through technology, served as Convenor of the oldest international symposium on transportation and traffic theory (the ISTTT), was elected to the National Academy of Engineering and is the sole-author of four research books.
He continues to mentor students and advise on dissertations.
“The future will come soon enough, be bold enough to imagine it,” says Daganzo.