Civil Engineering Student Earns Marshall Scholarship

Snellville native and Georgia Tech civil engineering graduate student Jacob Tzegaegbe has been chosen to receive the prestigious Marshall Scholarship. The award is bestowed annually to intellectually distinguished students from the United States pursuing post-secondary education in England.

Jacob Tzegaegbe
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Jacob Tzegaegbe, a civil engineering graduate student, is a 2013 Marshall Scholar.

Tzegaegbe is Georgia Tech's 10th Marshall Scholar and the only Tech student to receive the scholarship this year. 

Tzegaegbe plans to use the scholarship to pursue his doctorate in civil engineering at University College London beginning next October. The scholarship will pay for all education-related expenses during his two years in London.

“The topic for my doctorate is undecided at this point but will likely focus on evaluating best practices in context-sensitive design for major transportation infrastructure projects in developing countries,” he said. “My hope is to work with professors in the Bartlett School of Planning to learn more about how to plan infrastructure in developing countries.”

Tzegaegbe earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 2011 and is currently a second-year graduate student in Civil and Environmental Engineering’s Infrastructure Research Group. He is currently working on a dissertation entitled “Regulating the Informal Transit Sector in Post-BRT African Cities.” This work is a continuation of the research he began as an undergraduate through the President’s Undergraduate Research Award (PURA).

Born to a Nigerian father and Israeli mother, Tzegaegbe is the first in his family to attend college. He was decidedly humbled by the award, which was announced this week.

“My parents might be the only people more excited than I about the news,” he said. “Both of my parents immigrated ­to America just before I was born, so their sacrifices and hard work have always been, and continue to be, a major motivation for me. I know that coming to Georgia Tech, and now pursuing my doctorate with this scholarship, would not have been possible without their support, encouragement and sacrifices.”

Tzegaegbe is no stranger at Tech where his athletic abilities, community activism and intellectual prowess have earned him a reputation as a model student. Named Mr. Georgia Tech at the 2011 Homecoming Game, Tzegaegbe has won numerous awards for leadership, including the 2011 National Society for Black Engineers Distinguished Engineer of the Year, the 2011 Omicron Delta Kappa National Leader of the Year and the 2011 Alpha Phi Alpha Regional Leader of the Year. He has been named an Academic All-American Diver and was a two-year letterman on Tech’s Division I Swimming and Diving Team. Prior to winning the Marshall Scholarship, Tzegaegbe received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and was a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship.

“We are proud, but we cannot be surprised by this honor,” said his mentor, Dr. Reginald DesRoches, the Karen and John Huff Chair of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “Even among the very brightest students who come to Georgia Tech, Jacob is a stand-out. He is academically focused and driven, and is quite aware of the larger implications of his work. Moreover, he is committed to serving the Georgia Tech and Atlanta communities through his numerous service activities.”

With more than two years of additional studies ahead of him, Tzegaegbe has some time to settle on a specific career path. He has a good idea of what he’d like to pursue, however.

“In my time at Georgia Tech, I have developed a deep appreciation for the impact that infrastructure can have on improving the quality of life of citizens. This scholarship will allow me to further my understanding of how to develop cities that can sustainably transport people and goods while providing a foundation for economic development.”

As Tzegaegbe works to further understand these issues, he'll carry on part of the Institute's mission through his studies.

“At Georgia Tech, we believe we are designing the future every day, and Jacob will be doing just that as he pursues civil engineering and urban development as a Marshall Scholar,” said President G. P. "Bud" Peterson.

Named in honor of the late U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall, the Marshall Scholarships were established by an Act of Parliament in 1953 to commemorate the humane ideals of the Marshall Plan. Tzegaegbe is one of 34 Marshall Scholars for 2013, and the only one from a Georgia college or university.

Kathleen Moore, communications manager, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, contributed to this story.