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.

Students in Transportation Engineering and Planning, the OTREC-funded transportation student group at Portland State University, held its biggest-ever Urban Olympics, the annual celebration of Portland’s quirks and oddities. The 2012 games, held in April, featured participation from planning, engineering and public health departments.

Teams competed in games such as Urban NASCAR, which included slow-biking and gummy worm-eating components, and the noncopyright-infringing “Astonishing Rush” scavenger hunt. The first-year master of urban and regional planning, or MURP, students took the participation award, with 16 competitors, while the best department award went to the second-year MURPs.

The best team award went to Team Jellis, composed of Jamie Jones and Scotty Ellis. More awards are at the STEP website.

Photos are after the jump.

Photos:

On Feb. 21, OTREC joined with the Portland State University Students in Transportation and Planning (STEP) and the Portland-area News Rail~Volutionaries to host a debrief of January’s annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) in Washington DC. Portland was well represented at the TRB meeting with a diverse array of students, faculty, and transportation professionals, and this event brought many of those attendees together at the Lucky Labrador pub in northwest Portland to share stories and lessons learned.

For students, the gathering presented an opportunity to showcase the research they presented TRB. Posters lined the room and many attendees donned buttons bearing the enthusiastic encouragement, “Ask me about TRB!” Built-in icebreakers ensured lively discussions about current issues and research in transportation.

Those who did not get to attend TRB were able to experience a little taste of it in Portland, as those who did go had no shortage of tales about the biggest annual gathering of transportation professionals.    

STEP members in attendance took advantage opportunity to network with potential future employers and coworkers. To aid the soon-to-be graduates in their job hunts, STEP has created a LinkedIn group containing the profiles and resumes of many STEP members.  

Nothing signals the holiday season like a contentious multi-billion-dollar public works project. With that in mind, Portland State University's Students in Transportation Engineering and Planning sought to design and build an edible version of the Columbia River Crossing project. Teams of students built the bridge portion of the project using only edible elements, including graham crackers, licorice and gummy creatures.

The event, held Dec. 8, was the second annual competition for STEP. Last year, teams competed to build a gingerbread transit station.

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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When Gabe Klein starts his new job as commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation, the lessons of Oregon’s transportation system will be fresh in his mind. Klein, the former director of the District (of Columbia) Department of Transportation, visited OTREC programs and student groups over several packed days in Oregon.

Klein started his tour April 6 in Eugene as an expert in residence with the Sustainable Cities Initiative and LiveMove student group at the University of Oregon. He worked his way up the Willamette Valley with meetings and presentations in Salem and Portland.

On bicycle, Klein toured Eugene’s off-street paths, including pedestrian and bicycle bridges, and the street that will carry the area’s first cycle track. He met with city and Lane Transit District officials before touring the EmX bus rapid transit system.

In lectures in Eugene...

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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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Brian Davis, a transportation engineering student at Portland State University, was one of 47 students from OTREC campuses to attend the Transportation Research Board's annual meeting in Washington, D.C. He shares the following thoughts, tips and cautions for future attendees, students and professionals:

I’m finally back in Portland from my first go-round at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board. Aside from some kerkuffles flying in and out, due in small part to snow and in much larger part to the incompetence of American Airlines (maybe all their good operations people were, you know, at the conference!), it was a terrific, invaluable experience.

By the end of the second day of the conference, it became clear to me that the biggest takeaway from this meeting would be what to do differently next time. In talking to some of the TRB veterans meandering about the meeting, it seems like that’s a pretty common experience from one’s first TRB conference. Here, then, are a few thoughts about what I’m going to do differently next time, and a pat or two on the back for the few instances that I guessed right.

The devil fools with the best laid plans

In the days and weeks leading up to the meeting, I agonized for hours and hours trying to plan the perfect assortment of sessions and presentations to attend.  By the time the meeting started, I thought I had a wonderful experience planned where I’d get to...

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