Eno fellow describes experience at leadership development conference
As we previously reported, Patrick Singleton, a PhD student in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Portland State University, was selected to attend the 2015 Eno Future Leaders Development Conference in Washington, DC, last week. As an Eno Fellow, Patrick attended a series of meetings and tours designed to be an introduction to the transportation policymaking landscape. Here, he shares his experience in his own words.
Last week I had the pleasure and honor to attend the 2015 Eno Center for Transportation’s Future Leaders Development Conference, in Washington, DC. Along with 19 other graduate students from around the country, I learned about federal transportation policymaking from leaders in the field.
During the week, we met with a wide array of distinguished speakers on a variety of transportation topics. We heard how Capitol Hill deals with transportation legislation from Congressional staffers. We debated big policy issues in the aviation industry with an airport CEO, trade organization lobbyists, and expert consultants. We learned about new requirements for performance management from Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration staff. We received excellent career advice from the distinguished members of Eno’s Board of Directors, including three former Secretaries of Transportation.
Tours were also a highlight. We visited the hearing room of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, saw the cab of an Amtrak Acela Express train’s power car, and took an airside tour of Reagan National Airport.
I was especially impressed by the caliber of my fellow graduate students. Everyone was incredibly talented, successful, and engaged in our discussions, even in areas of transportation outside their specialties. In nearly every session, we had more questions than the time allowed.
The highlight for me was when current Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx stopped by our session at the U.S. Department of Transportation offices. Secretary Foxx generously gave us 30 minutes of his time to talk about the DOT’s Beyond Traffic report and to honestly and directly answer our questions on funding, metropolitan planning organizations, technological changes, and big ideas for 21st-century transportation.
Overall, the Eno LDC was an amazing experience and a very well-run event. I would strongly recommend it to anyone who is at all interested in transportation policy. Even when political intransigence seems likely to push important transportation funding and infrastructure decisions down the road, it was refreshing to meet with determined policymakers and promising young professionals striving to make a better future in the transportation arena.