Faculty Profile: Maya Abou Zeid
The Beirut street map on Assistant Professor Maya About Zeid’s office wall decorates, but also reflects her area of expertise—transportation.
Abou Zeid rejoined AUB’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department as a new faculty member in September after an absence of eight years. She plans to research practical solutions to the problems of traffic congestion in the AUB neighborhood, tackling pedestrian concerns, the parking problem, then moving to public transportation at the city level, especially to and from the University.
Abou Zeid first joined AUB as a civil engineering student, but her interest in the field of transportation developed as an intern at Dar Al-Handasah, where exposure to highway design and urban planning fostered interest in applying theoretical knowledge to every-day-life.
Abou Zeid’s 2001 AUB BA was followed by an MA and then by a PhD in transportation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2009, where her dissertation focused on measuring and modeling activity and travel well-being.
While at MIT, Abou Zeid coordinated a graduate transportation education program in Portugal as part of the MIT-Portugal program, and between 2003 and 2005 she was an associate of Cambridge Systematics, working in the area of market research and forecasting travel demand.
Finding AUB civil engineering standards quite high and the students “really smart,” Abou Zeid taught during the fall semester transportation engineering to third-year students; this spring she is giving courses in highway engineering for undergraduates and urban transportation planning for graduates.
Professor Abou Zeid is glad to find that her moral directives to “be yourself and treat others the way you like to be treated” apply to her academic work as they do elsewhere. She also believes that “nice gets you a long way and giving second chances promotes the health of any relationship.”
She may know a great deal about transport systems, but Abou Zeid mainly enjoys walking as part of her daily commute. Outgoing and sociable, Abou Zeid likes dancing Latin and ballroom, listening to all kinds of music, watching light romantic-comedies and feel-good movies on TV, and traveling.