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!

Oregon was well-represented at the Transportation Research Boardís 87th Annual Meeting, January 13-17, 2008 in Washington, D.C. More than 15 faculty participated and presented research in numerous poster sessions and workshops and served as presiding officers for various sessions, committees and subcommittees. In addition, we are pleased that more than 20 students also attended, many of them presenting research work in poster and regular sessions. OTREC staff attended the annual meeting of the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC), and the 2007 OTREC Student of the Year, Oren Eshel, was recognized at the CUTC banquet. In addition, OTREC and the Region X UTCs (Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington) hosted a reception at the beginning of the conference week. A summary of OTREC faculty and student participation can be found here: TRB 2008.

Congratulations to Oren Eshel, OTREC's 2007 Student of the Year! Orenís interest in regional planning techniques drew him to Portland, where is he is a Master of Urban and Regional Planning graduate student at Portland State University. Oren embarked upon graduate study to focus on public transit, equity in provision of transit services, and regional planning. Oren is a research assistant in the Intelligent Transportation Systems Lab at PSU, and is working on a project to evaluate an adaptive ramp metering system in the Portland region. He is also an intern with the City of Portland’s Transportation Planning section. Oren was nominated by faculty for this award not only because he excels at research and in the classroom, but because he has made a significant mark on the multidisciplinary transportation program at PSU. Oren is President of the PSU transportation student group and ITE chapter (STEP) and coordinated the Fall 2007 Transportation Northwest District 10 Student Conference, which attracted over 70 students from across the region.

Professor Joseph Sussman, JR East Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering Systems at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was the CTS seminar guest speaker and OTREC Visiting Scholar on March 9, 2007. Dr. Sussman has been instrumental in developing Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) in the US, and is the author of several books on the subject. Dr. Sussman met with engineering faculty to discuss OpenCourseWare, MIT's large-scale, web-based publication of course materials, and trends in civil engineering education. The PSU Students in Transportation Engineering and Planning (STEP) Group hosted an interactive discussion with Professor Sussman which was followed by his seminar, Where Transportation in Going: Transportation in the CLIOS System Era. CLIOS is short for "Complex, Large-Scale, Interconnected, Open, Socio-technical Systems," and his presentation illustrated how complex transportation issues can be. After the seminar, ITS Oregon hosted a lunch in the ITS Lab for Dr. Sussman, ITS Oregon members, faculty and students.

The Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC) is pleased to announce the selection of its first Student of the Year, Max Coffman, who is a graduate research assistant in the ITS Lab. This national award was presented as part of the annual Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC) Banquet at the Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) in January 2007. For the past 15 years, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has honored an outstanding student from each University Transportation Center (UTC) at this special ceremony. Each student receives $1,000 plus the cost of attendance at TRB from his/her Center, and a certificate from USDOT. Criteria for this graduate student award include technical merit and research accomplishments, academic performance, professionalism and leadership. Shown (left to right) are OTREC Director Robert Bertini, Max Coffman, and former Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta.

Two MURP presentations

The video begins at 4:15.

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