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Conquering the Divide Conquering the Divide

Conquering the Divide

Engineering student Azucena Milan ’20 brings her research know-how to her neighborhood to study infrastructure issues.

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Azucena grew up one mile from SMU’s campus in the culturally diverse Vickery Meadow neighborhood. Giant potholes and unlit crosswalks created safety hazards across the community.

Now, she’s one of several SMU researchers addressing those infrastructure problems – and achieving her dreams along the way.

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Azucena jumped at the invitation to participate in the study of infrastructure conditions in Vickery Meadow. Her background and knowledge of the area allowed her to take a key research role in the project.

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In collaboration with the City of Dallas and other community partners, SMU Lyle School of Engineering researchers use drones, smart phone applications, artificial intelligence and other high-tech tools to document and analyze the infrastructure conditions in Vickery Meadow and many other neighborhoods in Dallas. It’s part of a five-year study of urban infrastructure inequities.

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For Azucena, seeing the gap between the conditions around her high school and those around SMU “was just a shock. Ten minutes from where we live, I can press a button and get a light that will make cars stop so I can get to the parking lot safely. It is a really  different experience.”

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Her dream to study environmental engineering was realized when she received outstanding financial support from SMU. Azucena is also completing a BA in Spanish. She's active on campus as president of the SMU Council of the League of United Latin American Citizens and a member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and Chi Epsilon, The Civil Engineering Honor Society.

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By 2020, the U.S. will need to invest more than $3.6 trillion in major infrastructure, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. SMU researchers hope their work will help cities make more equitable choices for residents of neighborhoods like Vickery Meadow.

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Maybe one day we can make this happen where all the neighborhoods in the country are treated equitably.
-Azucena Milan '20

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Interested in research opportunities for students?

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Made possible by SMU donors.

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