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Civil engineering PhD students receive FAA awards, make history

By Virginia Speirs

Published: Sep 28, 2021 1:00:00 PM

Fernando Cordero, Jeff LaMondia and Mitch Fisher. Fernando Cordero, Jeff LaMondia and Mitch Fisher.

Fernando Cordero and Mitch Fisher, Auburn civil engineering graduate students studying under Jeffrey LaMondia, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, have been selected for the 2021 Graduate Research Award Program sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Fewer than 10 students receive this funding per year nationwide; according LaMondia, this is the first year two students under the same advisor have been selected. 

Cordero will utilize the award to research the U.S. civil aviation system’s understanding of airport resilience against extreme weather events that cause severe disruptions to operations, and ultimately, impact the nation's economy and security. Specifically, Cordero’s research will provide airport planners and managers with the data-driven knowledge needed to make informed choices on funding allocation, emergency planning and decision-making of airport operations.

“The ACRP Graduate Research Award is a huge accomplishment in my career at Auburn,” Cordero said. “This achievement is the result of years of hard work and dedication in my doctoral program, and it is also the result of extraordinary guidance and mentorship from my advisor, Dr. LaMondia. Even though this award is a personal recognition, I also think it reflects the quality and excellence of the work in Dr. LaMondia's research group and the civil and environmental engineering department, in general.”

Rather than exploring physical engineering applications, Fisher’s research focuses on how individual opinions on environmental issues influence travel behavior. The project looks at travel impacts related to a recent European environmentalism movement called flygskam, or “flight shaming,” as well as to the COVID-19 pandemic’s influence on the long-term travel patterns of U.S. passengers.

“Both Fernando and I applied for this a few times before, so finally getting selected was a huge deal for us,” Fisher said. “We used the lessons we learned, as well as Jeff 's mentorship to take our submissions this year to the next level. With how busy summer gets with other research, we all forgot we had submitted packets, so winning was a fun surprise." 

LaMondia said he is impressed by Fisher and Cordero’s innovativeness and their constant consideration of the practical applications of their research.

“I am beyond proud of Mitch and Fernando for receiving ACRP Graduate Research Awards,” LaMondia said. “These awards are very competitive, so it is a huge testament to their abilities that two of the nine national awards went to the same transportation planning research lab within the same university and college of engineering.”

Media Contact: Jeremy Henderson,, 334-844-3591

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