What Makes Transportation Unique at Portland State University?

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Transportation defines Portland, Oregon. Portland State University shapes transportation professionals who, in turn, shape cities across the world. Our students conduct cutting-edge research under the guidance of the world’s foremost transportation research faculty at the Toulan School of Urban Studies & Planning and the department of Civil & Environmental Engineering.

A research center dedicated to transportation

Students have the support of PSU's Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) which is home to one of seven national university transportation centers, the National Institute for Transportation & Communities (NITC), a six-university consortium that receives an average of $4.4 million per year from the U.S. DOT to support transportation research projects and students. 

Our transportation faculty are regarded as national and international experts in their fields. Graduate students have opportunities to collaborate in this research and take the lead on their own papers under faculty guidance. Just a few examples of how PSU faculty and researchers have supported the city of Portland’s transportation leadership:

  • In partnership with the City of Portland, PSU has hosted a community transportation academy for 25 years for over 1,200 community members.
  • PSU evaluated the first large-scale installation of bike boxes in the US, allowing Portland to use this safety treatment to prevent right hook crashes.
  • PSU evaluated the city's first protected bike lane, on SW Broadway through campus, setting the stage for the wider-spread use of such lanes throughout the city.

Transportation leadership opportunities for PSU students

An active and engaged student transportation group, the Students in Transportation Engineering & Planning (ITE-STEP), hosts film screenings, tours of transportation agencies in the city, lectures and other activities. Students can take on leadership roles in cultivating community and education around the transportation issues important to them.

Students present their work at national conferences for TRB (Transportation Research Board), ITE (Institute of Transportation Engineers), APA (American Planning Association), as well as locally through TREC and our partners.

Scholarship and research funding for students

With an emphasis on learning by doing, PSU students work on real transportation system projects with partners in our community. These partnerships lead to internships and rewarding careers after graduation. PSU students also have a history of collecting prestigious Eisenhower fellowships from the U.S. DOT and other transportation scholarships. Graduate and undergraduate students can find research and funding opportunities including graduate research opportunities, scholarships, other awards that are available through our programs and partners.

An active community of experiential, lifelong learning

Portland State offers a wide variety of degree programs suited to the multi-disciplinary demands of a career in transportation, including an experiential two-week study abroad on sustainable transportation

Through the Master's in Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program, students work with local agencies and transit providers to solve real-world problems, creating significant change in the Portland Metro region. Both planning and engineering students work on local issues for safety and placemaking submitted by community members to the Better Block PSU program.

Hosted on the PSU campus and open to the public, our Friday Transportation Seminars are a tradition dating back to 2000. PSU planning and engineering alumni, alongside the broader community of professionals in Portland, join us on campus for these talks.

The City of Portland is a hub for innovative transportation that prioritizes sustainability and equity

Portland offers an engaged community and innovative policymakers, willing to try “urban prototyping” to explore new ideas and applications. It also has a robust local transportation culture. You can plug into this community by engaging in the work of nonprofit organizations like the Community Cycling Center, the Street Trust, and Oregon Walks; following nationally renowned local journalism like BikePortland, and joining the Portland chapters of professional organizations like Young Professionals in Transportation (YPT), the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), and WTS: Advancing Women in Transportation.