Zhang with Rebecca Shum, wife of See Wong Shum, and Renee Alexander, former fiancé of Charles L'Esperance. The award honors Shum, L'Esperance and Ignatius Adanga, who died on 9/11.
David Dayu Zhang, GSAPP '06, was one of the recipients of the first annual September 11 Memorial Program Awards for transportation planning from the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC), a regional association of governments and transportation providers that makes decisions on the use of federal transportation funds. Zhang was presented with the award on Sept. 8, which included a stipend and a one-year internship to work with NYMTC on transportation issues facing the region.
Zhang, a graduate of Beihang University in Beijing and a native of China, has worked on countless transportation projects both here and abroad, and will bring a unique international perspective to the NYMTC. His interest in urban planning began when he worked for the Yitian Development Corporation in Beijing, assisting on mixed-use development projects for the city. He also worked as a summer intern for MTR Corporation Ltd (formerly Mass Transit Railway) in Hong Kong, which oversees the metro system and handles land development issues along the train lines.
Here at Columbia, Zhang has worked as a part of the urban planning studio group, led by Professor Floyd Lapp, where they studied possible transportation planning options for the aging Tappan Zee Bridge and the congested I-287 corridor. Their recommendations were later presented to the New York chapter of the American Planning Association.
At the NYMTC, Zhang will work in the office of the director and will help organize conferences on transportation concerns facing the area, such as bus rapid transit and providing safe routes to schools. Zhang will help plan the conferences, develop background materials for the conference participants, and write up conference reports.
"I think it will be a challenging, but exciting opportunity," said Zhang. "I hope my experience abroad and here at Columbia will help me to determine some of the key transportation problems in our area. I look forward to helping to create better alternative and solutions for commuters."
The awards were created to honor Ignatius Adanga, Charles L'Esperance, and See Wong Shum, three employees of the NYMTC who lost their lives at the World Trade Center on September 11. The research awards are presented to graduate students, and planning awards are given to local organizations. They were established to educate people interested in transportation technology and planning, and to encourage innovations in planning activities.
"The best way to honor our former colleagues is to help develop a new generation of transportation planners through the four student awards we are providing, and enable the four organizations being awarded planning funds today to conduct important work on regional transportation issues," said NYMTC Executive Director Joel P. Ettinger.