AECOM’s Steven Duong on How Transportation Impacts the Future of Our Cities

Duong led the Hyperloop Texas proposal, and was one of ten winners—kicking off the movement to connect Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, and Laredo with the radical new technology.

Steven Duong, AECOM

Steven Duong had his first major moment in 2017, when he was one of 10 to win the HyperloopONE Global Challenge—a win that kicked off the movement to connect Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, and Laredo with Hyperloop. Invented by Elon Musk, the technology can provide fast, sustainable, on-demand travel cross-state in a matter of minutes.

Duong’s day job is as an urban planner and designer with global architectural and engineering firm AECOM, where he leads the Design + Planning and Economics Studio to solve complex urban issues. He won a contract to create Dallas’s first-ever climate action plan to help the city meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

In a recent feature, Duong was listed as a local you need to know in D CEO Magazine. He said his role is mainly about planting seeds, and guiding citizens to make the right choices when it comes to creating a thriving urban environment.

“There’s a natural tension between public interests and private interests oftentimes, but you need both parties to work together to enact dramatic change in cities,” he said. “When you’re able to combine those two together and create something that’s exemplary and get all parties involved, that’s pretty satisfying.” 

Duong is featured in Dallas Innovates 2019—The Magazine’s 26 North Texas Innovators who are the future today. Get to know the urban planner and designer in our extended Q+A.

How would you describe your role with AECOM?

I am an urban planner and designer with AECOM, a global architectural and engineering firm, in Dallas, leading the Design + Planning and Economics studio. Founded a few years ago, the Dallas studio is a collaboration between planners, designers, economists, analysts, and policy experts working together to solve complex urban issues. Our work spans anything from climate resilience to smart cities to large scale master planning. As part of this work, I led the Hyperloop Texas proposal, one of the winning entries in the HyperloopONE Global Challenge. Hyperloop is a radical new technology invented by Elon Musk that hopes to one day move people around in floating magnetic pods traveling through vacuum tubes at almost the speed of sound. Virgin HyperloopONE is a LA-based startup that has built a working Hyperloop system and held an open competition to identify initial implementation sites around the world for their technology. Out of almost 3,000 submittals, the Hyperloop Texas proposal was selected as one of the ten winners, kicking off the movement to connect Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, and Laredo with hyperloop technology.

What problem are you solving with your product or business?

Hyperloop technology has the potential to provide extremely fast, sustainable, on-demand travel across the state of Texas in minutes as opposed to hours. Travel from Dallas to Austin could be as fast as 19 minutes. The technology is fully autonomous and electric and can move both passengers and freight. Hyperloop can significantly reduce future congestion between our cities while also spurring new economic activity and increase quality of life.

Is there a real world example you can give?

The “Dev Loop”, or development hyperloop test track in Nevada.

Your first breakthrough moment?

Winning the HyperloopONE Global Challenge in September of 2017.

Your latest breakthrough moment?

Winning the contract to create the City of Dallas’s first ever climate action plan to help them meet the Paris Agreement goals.

What’s on the horizon for you and your company?

I am also an adjunct professor at UTA, teaching in the College of Architecture, Planning, and Public Affairs (CAPPA). For the spring semester of 2019, I am teaching a brand new interdisciplinary studio course that helps students from across different backgrounds understand how to plan and design future cities, accounting for new technologies such as the Hyperloop and autonomous vehicles.

Who’s inspiring you right now?

I’m always inspired by the strong collection of Dallas nonprofits and philanthropic community that drives this city forward on critical issues, and the community’s willingness to work with the private sector to accomplish great things.

Tell us about a recent breakthrough or some cool tech that’s underway that you’re excited about.

I am always interested in and keep a close eye on the progress of connected and automated vehicle companies like Waymo and Drive A.I. Cities are very often designed around transportation, so breakthroughs in that sector have dramatic implications on the future design of our cities and the way we interact with our environment.

This Q+A was used for a series in Dallas Innovates 2019—The Magazine.

Dallas Innovates 2019—The Magazine highlighted 26 North Texas innovators who are the future today. These men and women are are renegades, visionaries, and people who don’t take no for an answer. And they are all forging the future of tech that has the potential to change the world. Throughout the year, we will be sharing individual interviews with our innovators as part of the extended magazine content on dallasinnovates.com.


Read it online

Dallas Innovates 2019—The Magazine explores the region as a rising tech hub that will shape the future of innovation. The theme of our second annual print publication, “A Breakout Moment,” explores why now is the time for the region to grab its place in the tech universe.

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