Summer Transportation Camp for Oregon High Schoolers at Portland State University
Hosted at Portland State University every year since 2016 - our week-long summer camp is free and open to any Oregon student entering the 9–12 grade. It offers an immersive introduction to transportation careers and the workings of transportation systems in Portland. Students will hear from guest speakers, develop data collection and STEM skills, and go on daily field trips. While on the PSU campus you will:
- Meet local professionals in transportation and learn about the broad range of transportation careers and sectors.
- Understand the social justice and equity issues within transportation and how it relates to you, your family and your neighborhood.
- Get to know the transportation systems in Portland and become familiar with the Portland State University campus
- Connect with other high school students who are also passionate about careers in transportation, and have fun!
Portland State University is a host site for the FHWA's National Summer Transportation Institute program.
How to Apply
The summer camp was held August 6-11, 2023—See photos from the camp.
Not able to attend this year but want to be notified of future summer camp opportunities? Sign up here to be notified.
This year's program will be a one-week residential (overnight) camp open to youth who are currently enrolled in an Oregon high school in the fall of 2023 with a 2.0 GPA. Students who identify as female or non-binary; disadvantaged youth; Black, Indigenous and students of color; and students with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply. It is FREE to attend (but seats are limited).
If you are at least 18 and have completed one year of college or university, you can apply to be a residential counselor for the camp.
What Will the Camp Look Like?
We'll meet in-person on the PSU campus for one week as an overnight residential camp guided by TREC staff, as well as young adult Residential Counselors* who play an important role in facilitating team building and leadership development. Each day is tied to a theme, and half the day is spent in the classroom hearing from PSU faculty and guest lecturers from ODOT, the FHWA, PBOT, TriMet, the Port of Portland, and other public and private transportation agencies from the Portland metro area.
The other half is spent outside, on field tours of Portland’s transportation infrastructure and public spaces. Planners, engineers and designers come from all over the country to learn from Portland, and researchers look to Portland for the most innovative solutions in safe and sustainable transportation.
*Interested in this role for 2023? Apply to be a residential counselor if you're at least 18 and have completed one year of college.
Below is a day-by-day sample agenda that is tentative and subject to change, but based on the past six years of our transportation camp - these are the types of topics and activities that you can expect from our program.
Student and family orientation
Strengths Finder, Team Building
Intro to Transportation; social equity and environmental justice
Transportation planning and design
Bike tour of Portland
Bike repair workshop at PSU Bike Hub
Planning, geography and placemaking
GIS online mapping software
Jet boat tour
Self-defense class and "advocating for yourself" panel
Transit and multimodal planning
TriMet transit operations center and bus facilities tour
Computer coding / communication and presentation skills
Traffic enginering and safety
Research process, safety calculations and analysis
Speed networking with local professionals; tactical urbanism workshop
College prep skills
Overview of careers in transportation, final project presentations and closing ceremony
Hau Hagedorn, Portland State University
We've been hosting this camp every summer since 2016, and have introduced 177 Oregon high school students to transportation concepts and careers. Read a recap of the 2022 camp. Here are just a few of the things our camp student alumni have to say about their experience:
"I definitely can see myself having a job in transportation, and the camp has inspired me to reach out to my school to improve the pick-up and drop-off system as right now it seems dangerous."
I loved getting to know the behind-the-scenes of how transportation works in Portland! The opportunities to meet professionals from TriMet, PBOT, the Port of Portland, and many other areas effectively opened my eyes to careers I had never even considered before. Probably my favorite part was working with city planners to see the different kinds of roads and how they work to accommodate the specific needs of roads — from bike and pedestrian needs, to budgeting, to vehicular traffic requirements.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does the transportation summer camp program cost?
The camp is free (although enrollment is limited), thanks to our generous funders at FHWA and ODOT.
What are the dates of the camp?
The program will run from August 6-11, 2023. Students will be required to check in on Sunday, August 6 late morning/afternoon. The program will end around 3 pm on Friday, August 11.
What COVID safety protocols will there be?
Portland State University's policies around indoor space use have been changing frequently, and we will follow the most current guidelines for summer 2022. Effective March 19, 2022, Portland State University no longer requires that masks be worn in classrooms, offices, and most other public and private indoor spaces. We understand that some in our community may feel more comfortable continuing to wear a mask. That is a personal decision that we wholeheartedly support. We ask that our community respect the choice of people who keep their masks on, but to refrain from asking others to wear a mask. If students prefer to wear a mask, we will provide disposable masks or they may bring their own masks. We will also have hand sanitizer available in the classroom.
Are housing accommodations provided for the students?
The Summer 2023 program will include overnight accommodations (shared, residential) on the PSU campus. Learn more about PSU's Summer Housing policies on Covid-19 vaccination and testing.
Note: students will need photo ID to check into residential housing.
What supervision will there be?
The camp will be staffed by TREC, a graduate assistant, and camp counselors during the day. The camp counselors will lead additional evening activities and provide supervision in the residential hall. TREC staff will be on call after hours to handle emergencies. Students will stay together as a group with staff and mentors throughout the program.
What food will be provided for the students?
Meals will be provided to students for the duration of the camp.
For the field tours, will transportation be provided?
All transportation is provided by the program. We will be walking and taking public transit to attend our field trips. The camp will likely include a field tour of Portland by bike, but we will not rely on biking as a primary form of transportation. Bikes will be provided free of cost. If the student does not know how to ride a bike, we will have another option available.
Can you provide a certificate of completion for this camp?
Yes! We're happy to provide a certificate of completion.
I don't live in Oregon, is there a transportation summer camp in my state?
Our camp is one of many across the U.S. that are supported by the FHWA through their National Summer Transportation Institute (NSTI) program. Learn more about camp host sites in your state here.
Offered through the Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University, this camp is funded by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) as a host site for the FHWA's National Summer Transportation Institute program.
TREC at Portland State University is home to the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI), and other transportation programs. TREC produces research and tools for transportation decision makers, develops K-12 curriculum to expand the diversity and capacity of the workforce, and engages students and professionals through education.