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Rumba Dey and Sanjay Paul are graduates of the School of Sustainable Engineering and Built Environment, part of the IRA A Colleges. Fulton Engineering College at Arizona State University are no strangers to awards and recognition. This year, the husband and wife duo are celebrating several prestigious honors in recognition of their accomplishments as professional leaders in transportation and traffic engineering.
Even in life after ASU, the couple largely credits the university’s proud and diverse community as a major factor for their success in the United States.
“When I think of ASU, it is full of good memories,” says Day, who earned a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from Fulton Schools. “We came from Bangladesh to Arizona. I still remember that day; it was 118 degrees. Overall, it was a culture shock but in a good way.”
Day and Paul said that although their primary focus at ASU was their studies, it was equally important for them to begin building their community and exploring Arizona culture. The couple has been involved in the activities of multiple engineer organizations, including the Friends of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Arizona State University Institute of Transportation Engineers, also known as ITE.
Day became ITE’s fundraising coordinator and Paul the chapter’s vice president. While involved in the club, they undertook a project to contribute to the ITE Journey Construction Guide, which is used today by traffic professionals across the country.
“We learned a lot about the United States and American culture,” says Paul, who earned his doctorate with a focus in transportation engineering from the Fulton Schools. “We developed a network of professionals through different activities and research projects. We had a network, and I think that definitely helped us early on.”
This year, both Paul and Dey were celebrated by Engineering News-Record among ENR Southwest’s 2023 Young Professionals of the Year for their experience, leadership and community involvement. Mass Transit Magazine also honored the couple as part of its 2023 40 Under 40 program, which honors individuals who move the transit industry forward.
Additionally, Day was honored as Business Leader of the Year for SMBs in the 2023 Champions of Change Awards by AZ Big Media, and Paul was honored in the Phoenix Business Journal as part of the Valley’s 40 Under 40 list of Outstanding Young Business Leaders.
Having been a couple since they were 17, the duo stresses that their shared interest in engineering is a plus, but their emotional support for each other leads them to take on new challenges.
Find support as students
In 2012, Day became pregnant with her first child while pursuing her master’s degree and working as a research fellow. With the support of the faculty and Paul, Day was able to get the support she needed to finish classes, earn her degree, and build her family.
“The professors were incredibly supportive,” Day says. “They knew my due date and allowed me to do make-up tests. The people here are very friendly and very understanding.”
In addition to joining student organizations, Paul and Day also found support from mentors, including Professor Ram Bindiala (now Director of the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment), who served as their graduate degree advisor.
With Pendyala’s guidance, Day says, she and Paul were able to build professional relationships, gain experience and find work.
“Through hard work, dedication, outstanding service to the profession and a passion for innovation, Sanjay Paul and Rumba Dey have excelled as leaders in the field of transportation systems engineering and become exemplary mentors,” says Bendyala. Their current status as industry leaders is a testimony to their relentless pursuit of excellence. They light the way for the next generation of professionals, inspiring us all to envision a brighter, more efficient future in transportation. We congratulate Sanjay and Rumba on their many successes and look forward to everything they will undoubtedly achieve in the future as their careers develop in the coming years.
Life as an ASU alumni
After graduation, Day and Paul had no problems finding work because of their professional connections, research experience, and community work. After a presentation for Day’s final semester project involving data from the Arizona Department of Transportation, she met a colleague who liked her work and later offered her a job.
“There are so many opportunities. You don’t need to look at your classmates as competitors,” says Paul. “They will be your supporters. Once they have jobs, their companies will need more people. Their supervisors will say, “Hey, bring your friend so you can work together.” That’s how it works.”
Currently, Day serves as Associate Vice President and Head of Emerging Technology for AECOM’s Arizona and Utah divisions. Paul is the Traffic Business Class Leader in the Arizona and New Mexico region for HDR Engineering Inc.
Both Dey and Paul have continued their involvement with ASU ITE and the ASU community they call family. As leaders in their companies, they share their opportunities back to a new generation of students by mentoring and connecting them to jobs.
“We always invite students to attend conferences and talk to professionals,” says Paul. “If you’re looking for a job, this is your place to reach out and submit your resume. It’s an ASU community — we all have to help each other out.