Civil Engineering alumna
Brandy Ezelle earned a degree in civil engineering from Auburn University in 1999. She has served the City of Auburn as traffic engineer since 2002. In addition to her role as traffic engineer, she also serves as the city's bicycle coordinator and the chair of Travel with Care, a transportation safety campaign that encourages courtesy among all modes of transportation such as walking, cycling and driving. Prior to her position at the City of Auburn, she worked in roadway design for a private engineering firm.
1. How did your education at Auburn University prepare you for your career with the city?
My education at Auburn University has given me the fundamental knowledge and theories applicable to civil engineering which I have been able to apply and expand upon in my position as traffic engineer for the city and in the other aspects of my position, such as bicycle coordinator and Travel with Care campaign chair. Being involved in the many extracurricular activities the university has to offer, such as the Institute of Transportation Engineering club and the Concrete Canoe competition, was also beneficial. These experiences gave me the added ability to interact within team structures and apply myself to the fullest while solving fun and interesting challenges set by me and my teammates.
2. Is living and working in Auburn different as a professional rather than a student?
There are so many activities and events in Auburn that I wasn't familiar with as a student and living here as a professional adult has really opened my eyes to them. Auburn has so many great parks and hosts fun activities and events for residents and students like Bike Bash and City Fest and I don't think students are typically cognizant of them.
3. Have you noticed any trends in Auburn citizens' travel practices since you became traffic engineer?
Students tend to drive on the main roads and not venture out of their driving comfort zones, while residents look for other ways to avoid the university traffic. There are many streets and roads that are not utilized by students but could reduce travel times and congestion if they were utilized more. Auburn also has unique traffic peaks that are affected by the popular 10 a.m. class time and Tiger Transit influence.
4. What do you think is the key to harmony among the different modes of transportation here in Auburn?
I think the key lies within each individual. To make the streets safer, engineers continually work to change the physical element to adapt to people's habits. If we could somehow reverse the process and change people's habits, we could save time and money and focus our work on new roadways rather than improving existing ones. Getting people to acknowledge, understand and accept the challenges of other modes of transportation would go a long way in creating safer streets.
5. As the chair of the Travel with Care campaign, what do you think is the biggest problem that Auburn faces in regard to travel safety?
I think the biggest problem is the distractions that are available and utilized by pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers. Cell phones and iPods distract people from considering the full effects of their actions and reduce their ability to react quickly and appropriately to situations. I often say that most accidents occur when two individuals make mistakes. When only one makes a mistake, collision is often avoided. When both people make a mistake at the same time, collision is typically unavoidable. It is up to each of us to stay aware of our surroundings and the actions of others to help avoid a potentially disastrous situation. No one wants to live their life knowing they took another life, even if it was an accident.