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Alumnus/Alumna profile

Ben Azoulay

Bachelor of Arts
Honours in Urban Planning

“The extent to which the program gives students the opportunity to get hands-on interaction with technologies in the field is invaluable.”

What is the best part about your program?

The profs. I have gotten to work with some really great professors, especially my honours supervisor Dr. Zach Patterson.

The statistics class that I took with Dr. Patterson showed me that it’s fun to work with numbers. Processing data with math can be frightening. But if you want to go into academia you do have to process numbers. And if you can take a good stats class, and appreciate proper research design, that can open up a whole world of possibility. Getting that experience before entering the workforce prepares students for the work they'll be doing.

What kind of research opportunities have you had as an undergrad in Urban Studies?

I was taking Zach’s class, and he emailed me asking if I was interested in working on some research with him. So I went to see him in his office, and we applied for the CUSRA — the Concordia Undergraduate Student Research Award. We wound up getting the money.

The CUSRA pays you what you’d make at a summer job working full time. You’re expected to work roughly forty hours a week on your project, for about sixteen weeks. A lot of honours students apply for the CUSRA, and they use that research to supplement some of the honours work they’re planning to do.

Zach and I were provided a bunch of data about street use in a large part of the Plateau neighbourhood, from an independent company that counts pedestrians and different kinds of vehicles on city streets. They were like, what can you do with it?

We settled on creating a different measure to evaluate the relative amount of street space being used by each mode, compared with how much space is allocated to that mode. We used different equations, borrowed from different fields.

Ben Azoulay

Tell us about your honours thesis.

My thesis is on creating guidelines for smartphone travel surveys. Travel surveys have been around since the 1950s, and with the advent of GPS and smartphones, it’s become really popular to create apps to track users’ movements, and then use that data to infer stuff about users’ behaviour. The idea is to create a set of guidelines for authors and social science research evaluators, to evaluate the data being reported, and to make sure data’s comparable and complete.

What kind of on-campus resources have you appreciated?

The People’s Potato is really great. It’s sort of an unspoken thing -- if it’s around 12:30, you look at your friend and you say, hey, let’s go to People’s Potato.

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