Transportation can have a significant impact on vulnerable ecologies, especially in rapidly urbanizing regions such as Dallas/Fort Worth. In order for future professionals to balance the needs of sensitive environments with the mobility of people and goods, they must have the proper tools – among other things, a good grounding in regional mapping technologies.

To introduce high school students to geographic information systems (GIS) and spatial reasoning skills, researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) developed a four-week training workshop in ArcGIS and other emerging regional mapping technologies. The workshop was incorporated into an existing high school course focused on the transportation network and environmental justice issues in the communities along the Trinity River. 

Led by the research team from UTA's College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs (Joowon Im, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, Alan Klein, Director at Institute of Urban Studies, Amruta Sakalker, Graduate Assistant in Planning), they partnered with CityLab High School in the Dallas Independent School District to pilot this workshop. The curriculum, which can be replicated for use by other teachers, introduces students...

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TREC Director Jennifer Dill speaks to TURF fellows

Our Transportation Undergraduate Research Fellowship (TURF) program is in its second year, and we're excited to introduce our 2019 cohort. The TURF program advances critical thinking and research skills under the guidance of a PSU transportation faculty mentor. This year's fellows are working on various research initiatives at TREC, including e-scooters, bicycle and pedestrian count data, multimodal trip generation, pedestrian safety and equitable transit.

TURF is funded by an education grant through our U.S. DOT funded program the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC). Students were selected through a competitive application process; we had 103 applications from 23 U.S. states and 4 countries.

The TURF fellows will spend six weeks during the summer of 2019 at Portland State University, tackling transportation engineering and planning research questions.

MEET THE 2019 TURF FELLOWS

Anaisabel Crespo - Leiva, SUNY...

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PSU students

For the second year in a row, we're opening up an exciting opportunity for undergraduate students interested in transportation: Spend a summer at Portland State University to learn more about the world of research in transportation through our Transportation Undergraduate Research Fellowship (TURF) program. This program is open to current undergraduate students from any university who are interested in learning more about transportation engineering or planning research. 

Hosted at PSU, selected students will be paired with a PSU faculty mentor (from either the College of Urban and Public Affairs or the Maseeh College of Engineering & Computer Science). The student will carry out research on a transportation project for ten weeks at 40 hours per week. TURF Fellows are provided a $7,500 stipend, but must find and fund their own lodging.

Decisions will be made by March 29, 2019. Contact us at asktrec@pdx.edu with any questions.

APPLY FOR TURF 2019 (by...

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Nineteen girls presented ingenious transportation ideas to a packed room on Friday, August 18, the closing day of TREC's 2017 National Summer Transportation Institute (NSTI). For two weeks, the high schoolers had stayed in Ondine Residence Hall on the Portland State University campus; meeting for daily lectures at PSU's Engineering Building, hearing from some of the women who run transportation systems in Portland, Oregon and touring the city's agencies.

In between guest lectures and field trips, the NSTI class worked on group projects, which they presented at Friday's closing event to their family members and the course instructors.

On the first day of the camp, they were asked to think about a real-world transportation problem so they could use the skills they would gain to present a solution at the end of the course. The problems were real, and the solutions were impressive.

It might be because the guest lecturers were actual practitioners, who gave real talk about the issues they've encountered in their work and how they've tried to solve them.

It might also be because the curriculum was directed by TREC's own amazing Lisa Patterson and Ellee Stapleton along with...

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Internships are vital to connecting students with real-world practitioners and applying what they learn in the classroom. For student Stefan Bussey, this real-world experience was gained through working with the Signals, Street Lighting, and ITS Division at the Portland Bureau of Transportation. His assignment during his internship was to evaluate the pedestrian delay at 47 pedestrian crosswalk signals (also known as half-signals) across the city of Portland. 

He assisted in reviewing and modifying the signal timing at half-signals to make them more responsive to pedestrians. The changes he helped implement resulted in an overall 25.3% reduction in maximum pedestrian delay for the signals adjusted. The reduction in pedestrian delay at these crossings may help to increase foot trips and higher rates of pedestrian compliance. When asked about his experience working at the city of Portland, Stefan said, “What I got most out of the internship was a better understanding of how to time signalized intersections to better serve non-motorized modes of transportation while maintaining an acceptable level of service for motorized vehicles.” From the employer perspective, Peter Koonce expressed, “The internship was a great example of a student having a positive impact on the surrounding community by solving a real world problem. The City of Portland is fortunate to have the partnerships in place to have PSU work collaboratively to improve the sustainability of the...

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With persistently high unemployment, it’s hard to imagine that having too many available transportation jobs constitutes a workforce crisis. But with many local agencies expecting half or more of their employees to be eligible for retirement within five years, that crisis looms.

Against this backdrop, 35 transportation leaders from Portland-area agencies met March 20 for a roundtable discussion of workforce challenges. Portland Mayor Sam Adams and Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith co-chaired the meeting, which included participants from organizations that train and educate as well as those that hire transportation workers.

The group agreed that a skills gap exists: there are plenty of people available to fill future vacancies but overwhelmingly they lack the specialized skills. Welding provides one example.  The demand for skilled welders far exceeds the supply. In response, Portland Community College is working to expand its training program in that area.

Elsewhere, the region’s economic plan calls for doubling exports. But if that happens, port operators will face an even bigger struggle to find workers with maritime experience or mastery of specialized software.

Returning military veterans often present a different problem: they have the skills but don’t necessarily have the proper certification. For example, many veterans have extensive experience driving large trucks but lack the commercial driver’s license required to work as a...

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Wednesday, Jan. 26 dispatch from the TRB annual meeting in Washington, D.C.:

With transportation-related professions changing rapidly, the classroom needs to reflect or, better, drive those changes. Sessions throughout this week's Transportation Research Board annual meeting focused on classroom innovation in transportation education, with faculty at OTREC universities often in the forefront.

Those discussions continued Wednesday while the focus widened. Innovation within the classroom is needed, but it’s not enough. Increasingly, developments in transportation education need to incorporate the learning and training potential of the outside world.

The session “Transportation Education and Training Beyond the Traditional Classroom” featured four presentations, including one from OTREC visiting scholar Geoff Rose of Monash University in Australia. Rose’s presentation focused on online discussion forums.

Titled “Nurturing Student Learning in Transport Planning and Policy Through Assessable Online Discussions,” Rose’s presentation approached the forums as a supplement to traditional classroom instruction.

Teams from Southern Illinois University and from Louisiana State University and Louisiana Transportation Research Center internships and virtual learning environments, respectively. Karen Glitman, a program manager at the University of Vermont, gave a stirring...

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