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EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Future Infrastructure and Built Environment

Studying at Cambridge


Dr Tim Hillel

Date in FIBE: 2014-2019

Before joining FIBE: Prior to joining FIBE, I studied Engineering at Cambridge University, specialising in Computer and Information Engineering. 

PhD thesis: My thesis is "Understanding travel mode choice: A new approach for city scale simulation".

In my thesis, I explored machine learning approaches for mode-choice prediction for transport simulation. This included proposing a new modelling framework for the estimation of mode-choice classifiers and developing a new dataset which describes in detail the likely choices passengers could have made for a journey at the time of travel.

Why did you join FIBE?: My MEng thesis project investigated automated inspection of construction sites using computer vision. Through this project I gained an interest in digital infrastructure and more generally the application of machine learning and artificial intelligence to civil engineering problems. This encouraged me to join FIBE, with a focus on the digital stream. During the FIBE MRes year, I developed an interest in city-scale infrastructure problems, and this lead me to pursue my chosen topic for PhD research.

How did it help you?: Aside from the obvious benefit of getting a PhD at the end, having the MRes year allowed me to develop my wider research interests in Civil Engineering before starting the PhD and led to me pursuing a research topic I would not have considered if I had pursued a PhD directly from my MEng studies. I also feel that having funding that is not linked directly to a particular project gives you more independence as a researcher and ultimately allows you to have more say over what you focus on during your PhD! It was great to have colleagues that were working on such diverse research problems, though sometimes this can make it a bit harder to know who to turn to for help with a technical problem!

What are you doing now?: I am now a postdoc at the Transport and Mobility Laboratory at EPFL, Switzerland, where I am involved in several research projects as well as graduate teaching and student supervision.