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Student Profiles

Peter Yu

Undergraduate Student

Civil Engineering
“The CEE department offers many opportunities in all areas and is very flexible in allowing students to explore their engineering interests. Most importantly, the department is devoted to helping students succeed and reach their full potential.”

Peter Yu pointing at an exhibition display

Student name:
Peter Yu

Civil Engineering

Pullman, WA

Why engineering?

Growing up, I was always very interested in highways and traffic. I recall spending a lot of time playing with toy cars and traffic control devices when I was just a few years old, and I remember being fascinated by the major highways and how much traffic they served whenever I visited a major city. Nevertheless, I did not think of my interests as a potential career path until my sophomore year of high school, when I became very interested and involved in engineering (it’s a long story) and knew for sure exactly what field I wanted to go into. Engineering offers an endless array of possibilities and allows individuals to contribute to society and the world in positive, meaningful ways.

Why CEE?

Civil & Environmental Engineering is the foundation of civilization and has a profound impact on our everyday lives. Civil engineers design many essential things in our lives, whether it’s the buildings we live and work in, the roads we use to get to school and work, or the systems that bring us fresh drinking water. I am excited to contribute to society through my interests and work in civil and highway transportation engineering.

traffic on the I-5

Peter visited Washington State's first diverging diamond interchange, located in Lacey, due to his interest in alternative intersection and interchange designs.

What do you enjoy most about the program?

I love the robustness, flexibility, and tight-knit community of the program. The CEE department offers many opportunities in all areas and is very flexible in allowing students to explore their engineering interests. Most importantly, the department is devoted to helping students succeed and reach their full potential. The program makes it easy to bond with fellow students and reach out to staff to discuss anything.

Area of interest

I am interested in transportation engineering and am focusing in the areas of highway and junction design, traffic operations and simulation, traffic signal control, intelligent transportation systems, and roadway safety.


I conduct research in the Smart Transportation Applications & Research Laboratory (STAR Lab) under Professor Yinhai Wang. My current research is on the development and testing of new geometric designs, traffic control strategies, and intelligent transportation systems to enhance safety and mobility for all roadway users. I have developed several new alternative intersection and interchange designs and traffic signal control methods and have had the opportunity to present my research at international Institute of Transportation Engineers, Transportation Research Board (TRB), and American Society of Civil Engineers conferences and the UW Undergraduate Research Symposium. I have also been the first author of several accepted peer-reviewed journal articles and have been conducting research on yellow change intervals and dilemma zones since high school.


This past summer, I interned at Kittelson & Associates, Inc., a national transportation engineering, planning and research consulting firm. I was assigned to the Orlando, Florida office and worked with professional engineers and other staff members around the firm in conducting operational analyses of several intersection, arterial and freeway facilities in the Greater Orlando area under future year traffic conditions. This involved both interrupted and uninterrupted flow modeling through both macroscopic (HCM, HCS, Synchro) and microscopic (PTV Vissim) methods. In addition, I worked with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and timing plans in traffic signal controllers (Econolite ASC/3 and Cobalt). These were all great experiences; I also had the opportunity to meet many amazing people and other interns from the firm.


I am currently the Vice President of the ITE UW Student Chapter and the Secretary of the ASCE UW Student Chapter, as well as a member of the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers. I am also a member of the UW STAR Lab and serve as a reviewer for the Transportation Research Record, an international peer-reviewed journal published by TRB. In addition, I am involved with several TRB standing committees and have reviewed abstracts and manuscripts submitted for presentation at the 6th International Symposium on Highway Geometric Design and TRB Annual Meeting.

What is your dream job?

I plan on attending graduate school and pursuing master’s and Ph.D. degrees in civil (transportation) engineering after my undergraduate studies. Afterward, I hope to become a professor in transportation engineering or a professional highway transportation engineer.

Any advice for prospective students?

Always keep an open mind and be open to new opportunities. Spend your time getting ahead by exploring your interests and learning, and always reach out to better yourself and others. Also, do not be afraid to try something new or challenge even the most established concepts. Most importantly, never ever give up or think of yourself as a failure in any way. Put one foot in front of the other and remember that you always have an opportunity in every difficulty that you face.