Joel Shaffer

Hometown: Newcastle, California
Major: BS/MS Civil Engineering (Transportation Focus), Minor: Urban Studies
College: College of Engineering

What was you favorite Honors class?

My favorite Honors class was an interdisciplinary seminar: Understanding Space through Building Deep Maps, taught by Professor Ryan Cordell.

Deep Maps was my favorite class because it enabled me to explore concepts and disciplines outside of the world of engineering. We analyzed Boston through historic texts and maps, which was fascinating. Up until I took Professor Cordell’s class, a majority of my course work was technical math or science-based work, as is the norm in engineering. I enjoyed my engineering classes, but it was nice having a change in perspective. There were no other engineering students in the class (which only had 8 students in it), so I was able to see the world, and more specifically Boston, through their eyes as we held group discussions. I was even able to connect this class to my interests in transportation engineering; for the final project, I created an interactive map discussing the relocation of the MBTA Orange Line in the 1980s and its impact on the people of Boston.

During your time at Northeastern, what experiences shaped who you are today as a graduating senior?

I think a variety of experiences, big and small, shaped who I am as a graduating senior. The largest influence was participating in the Sustainable Urban Transportation Dialogue in the Netherlands in the summer of 2013 and again in 2015 as a teaching assistant. This study abroad helped reinforce my interest in transforming U.S. transportation infrastructure to become more efficient, safer, and less carbon-intensive. It also reignited my passion for bicycling, and I made many close friends through these programs. There were also many smaller experiences that shaped me during my time at Northeastern. Everything from meeting new friends through intramural broomball sophomore year to learning of different leadership styles at the Honors Leadership Retreat middler year transformed me from a college freshman unsure of my new Boston home and Civil Engineering major to a confident senior ready to live in another new city to take on the challenges of transportation engineering.

What is your best memory from being a part of the Honors Program?

The most memorable part of of my Honors experience was the friends I made through the program. Starting with Honors Welcome Week and living in International Village freshman year, the Honors Program introduced me to many of my closest friends and created a tight-knit community within the broader Northeastern community. I have not only chilled with my Honors network but also used it for advice and life planning. My time at Northeastern would not have been the amazing experience it was without my Honors friends.

Where are you headed after you graduate?

After graduation, I have accepted a position as a consultant at SMA Rail Consulting in Santa Ana, California where I will be working on a variety of rail scheduling and planning projects to help modernize the U.S. rail network and prepare it for increasing ridership in the coming decades. Until my August 1 start date, however, I will be enjoying a relaxed final summah in Bahstun.