Portland State University inducted graduate student Kristina Currans into the Denice Dee Denton Women Engineers Hall of Fame in a ceremony Nov. 15. Currans is the second transportation engineering student to win the student award.

Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College, took the Outstanding Female Engineer honors.

Currans’ boundless enthusiasm and dedication to her work quickly become apparent to anyone who works with her, said Kelly Clifton, an associate professor of civil engineering and director of the Oregon Modeling Collaborative. “I’ve never met someone able to manage so many things,” said Clifton, who nominated Currans for the honor.

Currans works with Clifton as a part of the Oregon Modeling Collaborative and on several OTREC research projects. “She brings a tremendous amount of energy,” Clifton said.

After graduating Oregon State University with a civil engineering bachelor’s degree in 2010, Currans soon made a name for herself in transportation circles. She started her graduate coursework at Portland State and worked during academic breaks with the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Transportation Planning Analysis Unit, home to state and regional transportation models.

“For someone who had just graduated with an undergraduate degree, she completed that internship and really impressed ODOT,” Clifton said. “To do that so quickly caught everyone’s attention.”

Currans tested and worked with the Statewide Integrated...

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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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The Portland State University transportation group STEP, for Students in Transportation Engineering and Planning, offered their take on the Oregon Transportation Summit, held Sept. 10 in Portland. The summit featured a poster exhibit with 22 posters, including 19 student posters.

"It was a great experience to talk with professionals in industry and government to get their feedback on the application of our research," Kristi Currans said of research she presented at the summit's poster exhibit.

Click here to read the full entry on the STEP website.

In town to network and share research results, participants in the Region X Student Transportation Conference also saw the inner workings of the transportation system and even got to stop Portland traffic. 

The ninth annual conference drew around 75 people to Portland November 18. The conference showcases student transportation research in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska and is entirely organized and run by students.

This year, the conference also featured breakout sessions and tours with working transportation professionals. Groups visited the Oregon Department of Transportation Region I incident management command center, dug into city of Portland traffic signal systems and operations, toured the city’s bicycle infrastructure and explored the mechanics of Portland’s drawbridges in detail with three bridge lifts.

Portland State University’s student group, Students in Transportation Engineering and Planning, or STEP, hosted the conference, which was sponsored by OTREC. The conference provides plenty of formal and informal opportunities for students working at different universities to inform each other, said Kristi Currans, an organizer with STEP.

“My favorite part is just having all the students get together and find out all the research everyone is doing,” Currans said. “Even within Portland State, if people are working for different professors, I might not know what they’re working on.”

The conference drew students from Portland State...

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Every year, graduate and undergraduate students from Portland State University’s Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning perform projects to aid urban planning efforts in local communities. On Tuesday, May 31, several students from PSU’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program took to the podium to present what they had accomplished after nearly six months of hard work.

When Amy Hesse, a graduate student in the MURP program, traveled to Redmond to learn more about efforts to encourage bicycling in the eastern Oregon community, she found plenty of people interested biking. But she also found that many were not doing so because they felt unsafe. Hesse, along with students April Cutter, Reza Farhoodi and Spencer Williams, developed a project called B-Spoke which sought to create a bicycle refinement plan for the city of Redmond.

“Our goal was to build off the city’s existing transportation system plan by identifying assets and barriers to increased ridership,” said Hesse. “People told me, ‘I don’t feel safe’ and we looked for new ways to overcome that. It wasn’t so much telling (Redmond locals) what they should do, but seeing what we could learn from them.”

While Redmond had many assets to cycling, including existing bike trail systems, a lack of east-west connectivity and dangerous highway crossings prevented many from biking more frequently, or at all, outside of recreation. Women were the gender with the most interest in cycling, but...

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The 8th Annual Region X Student Conference was hosted by Oregon State University in Corvallis on Friday and 70 students attended. Conference organizer Jon Mueller said that a surprising number of students from the materials science and economics departments attended and that a significant number of undergraduates from OSU attended parts of the conference.

The conference featured a morning keynote presentation by Galen McGill, manager of the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) unit for the Oregon DOT. The students learned about Oregon’s efforts to confront the challenge of scarce financial resources by applying technology to increase the productivity of existing infrastructure. Galen touched on recent advances in technologies such as OnStar and strategies such as Active Traffic Management, which has been adopted in Seattle and will soon be deployed in Oregon.

The late morning and early afternoon showcased student research. Eight students gave lecture-style presentations in the late morning and there was so much interest and so many questions that the session ran late and into the scheduled lunch hour. The presentations – four from PSU and four from OSU – revealed similar research interests between the campuses. The poster session in the afternoon provided a less structured forum in which the participants could interact.

The later afternoon offered students 3 workshops to attend. The group was divided into three subsets, each workshop was...

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Even residents of a gingerbread candyland can't get around with holiday magic alone. After all, Santa's elves still need a reliable way to get from their cozy homes to the workshop.

Sadly, transportation planners have turned a frosty shoulder to sugar-based transit systems. Until now.

On Dec. 3, Portland State University's Students in Transportation Engineering and Planning held the first gingerbread transit station competition. Four teams of students pulled their attention away from human transit to focus on the needs of gingerbread people and misfit toys.

Dealing with building materials of unknown structural properties, students field engineered solutions. Licorice sticks stood in for steel rails, candy canes for bicycle racks. For a binding agent, students mixed cream of tartar and egg whites instead of portland cement.

The resulting transit system has already resulted in fewer traffic gum-ups and a drastic reduction in ultrafine powdered-sugar emissions. Sleigh-travel-time reliability has also improved.

Researchers are now assessing the durability of corn-syrup-reinforced composites in candy bridges, the potential for alkali-silica reaction in gingerbread pavement and the possibility that someone hungry will stumble in and eat the infrastructure.

The winning design team was Transit Wonderland, composed of Jesse Boudart, Sara Morrissey, Mark Haines and Meeyonwoo Lim.

Portland State University’s Students in Transportation Engineering and Planning took first place in the Oregon Institute of Transportation Engineers’ William C. Kloos Traffic Bowl, held Nov. 18 at McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale. The Oregon Institute of Technology’s ITE student chapter won third place.

Portland State’s victory at the 19th annual Traffic Bowl was its second in a row. The PSU team also finished third in the 2008 competition.

The Jeopardy-style tournament tests students on their knowledge of transportation engineering and history with a sprinkling of arcane facts and pop culture thrown in for good measure. Teams from Oregon State University, the University of Portland and the University of Washington also participated with the University of Portland placing second.

Briana Orr, UO undergraduate and co-founder of the Universityís Bike Loan Program, is being recognized at the Oregon Civic Engagement Awards with the 2009 Faith Gabelnick Student Leadership Award. The awards reception is being held on Thursday, 4/23 in Portland. Ms. Orr is an environmental studies and Planning, Public Policy and Management major. From a story in the UOís Daily Emerald, a few facts about the bike loan program: it was started in the fall of 2008 with about 70 unclaimed bikes in the Public Safety departmentís impound storage. For a $65 refundable deposit, a student can check out a bike (lock, lights, fenders and basket included) for a term or an entire year. The award is being given by the Oregon chapter of Campus Compact, a national coalition of over 1,100 college and university presidents dedicated to promoting service-learning, civic engagement, and community service in higher education.

Christo Brehm, University of Oregon, is currently pursuing a concurrent graduate degree in Community and Regional Planning and Landscape Architecture at the University of Oregon. He holds an undergraduate degree in Planning, Public Policy and Management and has spent many years working in the field of affordable housing. While a University of Oregon student, Christo has designed one of the nation's first assessment tools of the emerging "Complete Streets" concept. He has traveled across the country (MD, VA, and MN) leading community assessment workshops using this Complete Streets tool that works within a mobile GIS environment. Christo co-authored a paper for the 2009 TRB national conference and has presented his work at the national Pro Bike / Pro Walk conference. He has been asked by leaders in two Oregon state agencies to describe and share his work with smaller Oregon communities and is a founding member and director of a campuswide, interdisciplinary transportation and livability student group at the University of Oregon called LiveMove. During this time, Christo has worked with Dr. Marc Schlossberg and has been a truly exceptional student researcher and leader. Congratulations Christo!

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