News | Introducing METRANS Student Assistant Eric Tunell

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Introducing METRANS Student Assistant Eric Tunell

Friday, November 25, 2016

by By Rui Zhang, MPL 2018


Please join us in welcoming Eric Tunell to the METRANS Transportation Center student assistant team. Tunell is responsible for writing and editing newsletters and articles, as well assisting with events.

Tunell is a first-year Master of Planning student in the Price School of Public Policy at USC with a concentration in Transportation and Infrastructure Planning. When asked what attracts him most about transportation, he remarked that he particularly likes the fact that transportation has such a wide variety of applications. Raised in Phoenix, he credits his parents for his initial interest in transportation. After visiting Germany, where he experienced advanced transit networks firsthand, and living in Washington, DC with its convenient Metro and bike-share systems, he became more interested in transportation as a whole. Cars have always fascinated him, and he is interested in how technology and autonomous vehicles can address people’s mobility needs while mitigating negative externalities. “And the more time I’ve spent at USC, the more I’ve become interested in the ports and freight transportation systems,” he said.

Tunell earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Arizona State University in 2006, where he was exposed to a good amount of information about the way cities have developed and changed in recent American history. When working for Valley Metro Rail in Phoenix, AZ while the city’s light rail system was in its construction phase, he helped with meetings with the various local stakeholders in the project and enjoyed seeing how the organization collected feedback and worked with the community. After graduation, Tunell worked for a decade for companies in different fields including sales, marketing, and most recently communications for National Geographic in Washington, DC. When deciding to go back to school for transportation studies, he felt fortunate to meet USC Lecturer Eric Shen from whom he received encouragement. He also had a chance to meet the enthusiastic students here at the Price School, and all this finally led him here, to USC.

Tunell plans to pursue a career in urban planning focusing on transportation after graduation and considers himself open to all career possibilities. California may also be the ideal place to begin his planning career, he notes, as the state plays a leadership role in many ways for the US, which would mean many interesting projects to work on in the coming years.

(Photo by Eric Tunell)


Rui Zhang

Rui Zhang is a Master of Planning student in the Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California with transportation concentration. She currently works as the event coordinator for the METRANS Transportation Center and plans to start a career on concerning transportation planning and GIS spatial analysis. She can be reached at [email protected].