News | USC's Kavina Patel Applies an International Lens to Transportation Planning

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by Marley Randazzo, USC, Masters of Urban Planning 2021

Meet Kavina Patel, Spring 2020 graduate from the Master of Planning program at the University of Southern California’s (USC) Price School. Kavina will begin her transportation career with Steer Group, a London-based transportation consultancy with worldwide offices, this September.


Born and raised in Ahmedabad, a city of 5.5 million in western India, Kavina is accustomed to living in a bustling metropolis . In 2016, she completed her undergraduate degree in Urban Planning from CEPT University and was selected as one of 30 students to participate in the prestigious Indian Institute of Human Settlements (IIHS) Urban Fellows Program in Bangalore. Two years later, Kavina moved to Los Angeles to pursue a master’s degree in planning at USC, concentrating on Transportation and Infrastructure.  She was a dedicated and passionate student, earning the Frank Wein Scholarship from the California Planning Foundation and high honors on the final, comprehensive exam for her degree program.


Kavina Patel poses for a headshot.


Kavina’s extensive professional experience has been integral to her development as a planner. During her undergraduate career at CEPT, she and her classmates founded a company that built traffic sensors to quantify traffic patterns and collect data for more precise infrastructural development. She also interned at the Quantified Cities Movement initiative, where she mapped neighborhood infrastructure in the Indian city of Pune. Additionally, through CEPT Research and Development Center (CRDC), Ahmedabad, Kavina researched Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) practices in cities such as Mumbai and Delhi, concluding her work by publishing four papers on the subject. Once in LA, Kavina began interning with Steer Group, her current and soon-to-be full-time employer. There, she focuses on local transportation demand management projects.


Kavina, far right, conducting field work with a project team in Santa Monica.


At USC, she held multiple positions with METRANS, including as Graphic Designer and Editor-In-Chief for the student newsletter. In addition to her primary roles, Kavina led the ambitious NYC Transit Map project. This interactive GIS Story Map allows users to explore TOD in New York in great detail. The project features photographs of the area surrounding subway stations throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and Jersey City, providing real, street-level depictions of TOD in a transit-dominant city. Kavina shared, “This project allowed me to utilize my transportation background to develop my technical skills and explore the new methods of understanding transit stations in a city and their impact on the surrounding area. I am very thankful to Dr. Victoria Deguzman for letting me lead this project and for everyone’s valuable contributions. This was one of the first projects that I led in the US and it helped me build professional relationships with students and professors.” Kavina found her time at USC to be immensely valuable, leaving her with an infectious enthusiasm for planning and enhancing her understanding of the international context in which planning takes place.


In the near future, Kavina is eager to transition from Intern to Assistant Consultant with Steer Group, where she will begin assisting the North American Advisory wing, also in the LA office. She will be working on transportation projects in the urban transit policy and regulation sector as well as on traffic modelling and engineering projects. Her new role involves strategic collaboration with the public and private sector in the North American region. 


Kavina, 4th from the left in the 2nd row, with part of Steer Group's LA Office.


In the long term, Kavina plans on pursuing a PhD to more extensively explore her passions in “sustainability, new mobility and emerging technologies, and first-last mile connectivity projects,” ideally lending her international practitioner perspective to academia.


Outside of transportation, Kavina can be found exploring all that LA has to offer, spending time with friends, and running her Instagram sustainability account, @conveniently_sustainable. She views this as a platform to “share urban farming and sustainability resources, where followers are encouraged to have conversations on being sustainable without buying more stuff and using homegrown hacks.” Go give her a follow! Best of luck to Kavina in her new role with Steer. We are excited to see all that she will accomplish.


About the Author: 

Marley Randazzo is a second-year graduate student in the Master of Urban Planning program at USC Price. He works as a writer, product manager, and designer for METRANS.