Closing the Gap: Developing a Transportation Curriculum for the Oregon Young Scholars Program

Carla Gary, University of Oregon



This OTREC educational proposal links experiential and transportation education from the University of Oregon with minority youth during the Summer ‘08 two-week session of the Oregon Young Scholar’s Program (OYSP). The grant provides OYSP an opportunity to create a transportation based curriculum during the Summer ‘08 program with the ultimate purpose of increasing minority interest and hopefully eventual employment in transportation related fields.

OYSP was developed in 2005 to nurture the potential of marginalized minority students, to prepare these students for higher education, and to increase the awareness of their parents or caregivers about what it will take for these students to achieve at higher education institutions.  Each year, OYSP brings in a subsequent cohort of students. The Summer ‘08 session will be the first year that four years’ worth of students will be attending the program (50+ students).  Each year, students attend morning academic sessions focused on Math and Writing, the two basic components of any education.  In the afternoon, students are grouped into smaller academic cohorts in business, community planning and design, public policy, arts, chemistry, and psychology. 

The proposed transportation theme for the ’08 session will infuse all elements of the summer program. All cohorts will focus on transportation as it relates to the cohort.  For example, the chemistry cohort will focus on the chemistry of alternative fuels and the power derived verses the power needed to create the fuels.  The public policy cohort will look at public health implication of transportation choices. Other elements of the program including community service, field trips, and guest speakers will support the transportation theme. Students will discuss the role of public art at bus stations, will take bike rides through the city and analyze the infrastructure from a youth perspective, and will talk with personnel in the City of Eugene the Public Works and Planning departments about their careers. The program will culminate in a two-day charrette focusing on a transportation issue in the City of Eugene. Program participants will work with community leaders, professionals and fellow students to develop recommendations for a specific community topic. This integrated educational approach facilitates exploration of the field from diverse perspectives and encourages students to creativity involve themselves in the world of transportation.

Not only will the high school students benefit from the experience, the 10 undergraduate students that we employ to serve as mentors and teaching and resident assistants will also be immersed in transportation topics and activities. They will be responsible for helping with homework and assisting with curriculum design. This direct involvement with the topic will expose, and hopefully inspire them to pursue transportation related classes at the university and consider it for a career. 

In summary, this project involves 50+ minority students in a rich, single-topic focused experience building on the continuing partnerships between the University of Oregon and high schools to support minority youth.  This grant request furthers the OTREC and DOT goals and generates interest in the profession of transportation among those least represented in the field.  The program is directed and supported by the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity at the University of Oregon. Match money will come from the university, private foundations, and the City of Eugene. Money from OTREC would allow us to turn the entire focus of the program to transportation.

Project Details

Project Type:
Project Status:
End Date:
September 30,2008
UTC Grant Cycle:
OTREC 2008
UTC Funding: