On March 23, 2020, Oregon — like many other U.S. states — was placed under a stay-at-home order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. At Portland State, we were faced with a decision: What to do about our 2020 transportation summer camps for Oregon high schoolers?
Our camps, up to this year, have been defined by the in-person, on-campus experience. Previous cohorts toured Portland's bikeways, saw the inside of Multnomah County's bridges, and sat down with professional engineers and planners to talk about tricky traffic problems. Would the program survive the transition to a virtual format?
We had already received 52 applications from promising Oregon high schoolers, and decided the camp was too important to cancel. With the financial support of the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration, we were able to shift to a virtual camp and still fulfill our objectives:
Introduce high school students to professionals in transportation
Teach them about the broad range of transportation careers and sectors
Present the social justice and equity issues within transportation and how they relate to students, their families and their neighborhoods
Introduce students to transportation systems in Portland...