Taking the Driver’s Seat

Bilal Thonnam Thodi realizes that while things in life do not always follow a linear route, you can still steer your own journey

Bilal Thonnam Thodi began his PhD at NYU Abu Dhabi as a single man with the dream of working in one of the world’s top companies. Today, he is leaving with a wife and daughter, a doctorate in hand, and a dream job on the horizon.

While working on his dissertation, Thonnam Thodi met his wife and married in India. He wanted to focus on his studies, but he also wanted to maximize his time with what would soon become his small family. NYUAD was able to facilitate the balance he needed to focus on completing his PhD.

“If you have a family, NYU Abu Dhabi’s PhD program is really the best option,” Thonnam Thodi said.

He had very little to worry about when deciding to bring his young family over from India. A variety of residential options are readily available for graduate students and their families. Having his family well looked-after meant Thonnam Thodi could really concentrate on his research. Using machine learning and AI techniques in the field of transportation and engineering, Thonnam Thodi collected data to build models for decision making, finding solutions to counter modern day traffic problems.

Thonnam Thodi uses data to extrapolate traffic conditions into finer scale, something that can potentially allow autonomous vehicles to improve their road speed. As self-driving vehicles need to make decisions in milliseconds, providing this kind of detail on live traffic conditions will help them adjust their speeds more accurately.

Keen to gain more industry experience while completing his PhD, Thonnam Thodi held an internship with Uber last summer. Thonnam Thodi’s expert knowledge and capabilities led to a job offer at Uber where he will join as a software engineer in their safety and compliance team after graduation.

If you have a family, NYU Abu Dhabi’s PhD program is really the best option.

Bilal Thonnam Thodi, PhD 2023