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It’s never too early to start teaching kids about careers in transportation. Though they might not be ready for complex engineering, elementary school children are more than ready to form ideas about their possible futures.

On July 27 at Poynter Middle School in Hillsboro, Oregon, around 70 young Latina girls learned about different transportation modes, mapped their neighborhoods, and exchanged ideas with seven female professionals who work in transportation in the Portland metro area.

Lisa Patterson, TREC’s workforce development program manager, coordinated the event with Chicas Youth Development, a program of Adelante Mujeres. Patterson and a crew of six dedicated volunteers taught three transportation-focused workshops at a Chicas summer scholastic camp. 

The purpose of the workshops was to teach students about transportation concepts and introduce them to the possibility that they could grow up to work in transportation, an industry very much in need of a diverse workforce.

Patterson and volunteers Olivia Holden, Gwen Chambers, Molly McCormick, Erin Wardell, Jessica Pelz and Tegan Enloe spent the day in three workshops with different age groups, leading brainstorming exercises and encouraging the girls to think about the ways in which transportation affects their daily lives. 

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Transportation workforce development doesn't always take place at the university level. Students' interest in transportation can start much earlier than that, which is why TREC is always looking for ways to engage elementary and high school students in transportation. Under the guidance of Lisa Patterson, our new technology transfer and workforce development program manager, TREC's education programs continue to expand. Many of our education efforts focus on drawing women and minorities, who are often underrepresented in STEM fields, to consider the possibilities of transportation as a profession.

On Tuesday, May 16, Patterson held an information table at Oregon's 2017 MESA Day, an annual state student engineering competition, to offer students a look at some of TREC's upcoming education programs. These included a ChickTech workshop as well as TREC's second Summer Transportation Institute, a free transportation-focused summer camp for which applications are now being accepted.

TREC hosted the ChickTech workshop on Saturday, May 20 at Portland State University, offering a GIS “crash” course for high school girls.

The workshop, held in the Intelligent Transportation Systems (...

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In the spring of 2015, with guidance provided by the NITC program, students at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York created a pedestrian and bicycle plan for the City of Canandaigua, New York.

As part of their Sustainable Community Development capstone course, the students in environmental studies provided plans for a mixed use district along Route 332 in Canandaigua.

Course instructor Jim Ochterski credits PSU researcher Lynn Weigand’s NITC education project, Enhancing Bicycle and Pedestrian Education through Curriculum and Faculty Development, with providing essential resources for the course.

“Most of the students did not have any grounding in pedestrian planning and development, and [the NITC materials] made a huge difference,” Ochterski said.

Part of the mission of the NITC program is to enrich transportation education. One way our university partners do this is by developing curricula to advance transportation and livability goals in the classroom.

Weigand's project was intended for just this purpose. She created a module-based curriculum for bicycle and pedestrian planning and design that was designed to be adaptable for use in a variety of course offerings.

The HWS instructors took that curriculum and ran with it.

“We took on a major community project in ped/bike planning because we had these support materials from the program. It allowed us to...

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Investigations in Transportation was an elementary school partnership and curriculum development project, engaging STEM professionals...

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Portland State University today achieved the highest ranking from the League of American Bicyclists' Bicycle Friendly University program. Portland State is now one of just five platinum universities recognized under the program.

Other NITC program campuses were also designated as bike friendly. University of Oregon achieved gold status and University of Utah, silver.

The Bicycle Friendly University program evaluates applicants’ efforts to promote bicycling in five primary areas: engineering, encouragement, education, enforcement and evaluation/planning, known as the Five E's.

The league noted that Portland State’s support for bicycling has helped reduce congestion, improve air quality and lower the demand for parking on campus. “Portland State encourages bicycling as an affordable, efficient option for transportation and provides amenities such as indoor bicycle parking, low-cost bicycle rentals, and an on-campus Bike Hub, where students can find everything they need to make bicycling a part of their commute options,” the league stated.

PSU previously was a gold-level bike-friendly university. In the past two years it expanded its “Vik Bike” bicycle rental program from 12 bicycles to 134. Each bike comes with lights, a lock and a helmet. The program, in which students can rent a bike for a term, receive training on bike commuting and bike maintenance, has a waiting list of participants.

During...

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Two Oregon elementary schools recently had their parking lots redesigned by the students.

5th grade classes at Beaverton’s Chehalem Elementary and 5th and 6th graders at Tobias Elementary in Aloha took part in a NITC education project, Investigations in Transportation, co-sponsored by Portland State University, the Portland Metro STEM Partnership and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The students' work yielded functional changes which will likely be made to the parking lots at both schools, resulting in better traffic flow and increased capacity.

William Becker, the director of PSU’s Center for Science Education, and Carol Biskupic-Knight began the NITC project in collaboration with the Portland Metro STEM Partnership, where Biskupic-Knight is the director of the STEM teachers academy.

The unit was designed to teach students real-world applications of core concepts in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). After exploring several potential engineering challenges at their schools, both groups of students chose to work on the “Parking Lot Dilemma.”

Transportation professionals from ODOT visited the...

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OTREC turned its education efforts on a decidedly younger crowd March 13: sixth graders. A class from Rochester, N.Y., visited Portland on a trip geared toward improving bicycling in their own community.

The students, from Genesee Community Charter School, visited the OTREC offices to learn about active transportation research methods. They took part in group exercises designed to get them thinking about the planning and engineering challenges of transportation systems set up to serve multiple transportation modes.

The highlight of the day came when the students took to Portland’s streets — OTREC’s living laboratory — to conduct research of their own. Armed with bicycle-counter tubes and infrared detectors, students counted cyclists and pedestrians passing on the Broadway cycle track on Portland State University’s campus.

Other students verified the technology with manual counters.

Students moved on to their next stop on a four-day tour of Portland with a better sense of what kind of data researchers collect and how they can use those data to inform policy. Given their experience — the students already have influenced their city on policy ranging from Erie Canal re-watering to an urban art corridor to skate parks — they stand a good chance of using Portland’s lessons to build a bike-friendly Rochester.