Meet Haimanti Bala

Haimanti Bala is a first-year Ph.D. student in Civil Engineering and an inductee of the 2022-2023 John Lof Leadership Academy cohort. Right now, Bala works on autonomous on-demand services.

Since this kind of tech hasn’t been implemented on a big scale yet, she uses simulation tools to know the effects of autonomous vehicles in traffic. From there, data using parameters like passenger waiting time can be analyzed to optimize possible mobility-on-demand implementation. 

This is Bala’s first foray into the subject, but it’s supported by a rich, diverse background in modeling software and research in transportation engineering. She is also the only one in her family with a background in science. 

After her undergraduate studies at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, she participated in a voluntary education program. There, Bala prepared interesting science experiments for underprivileged children. 

After that, she was a research engineer at electronics manufacturer Maks Inc. She also worked on the Dhaka Elevated Expressway, which is Bangladesh’s first elevated expressway project.

“I was completely focused on urban development, the breach managements system project that was completely focused on inspecting breaches in rural areas, and developing a web-based application to inspect them and then suggest maintenance activities,” Bala said.

Bala wanted to broaden her horizons after operating on the computational side of transportation engineering. She started her Master’s at the University of Missouri-Columbia. 

She branched out into teaching as a graduate assistant and delved into autonomous vehicle research. Bala excelled academically, graduating with honors, and presented her research at the 101st meeting of the Transportation Research Board.

That brought her to UConn, where she learned about John Lof. One of her lab mates was affiliated with John Lof. He had said that his leadership and communication skills improved at John Lof.

“In the orientation program, two members from John Lof said something that I liked. They said that they wanted to train people to be individual leaders. After that, I thought that I should join,” Bala said.