Students at Hood River Middle School in Hood River, Oregon, will get some hands-on transportation experience next spring as they participate in the redesign of bike and pedestrian infrastructure around their school. Members of the (tentatively named) "Better Blocks Club," a new after-school extracurricular club, will get the chance to observe infrastructure, go on field trips by bike, learn urban planning best practices, and be involved in implementing a pilot safety project.

They'll be helping to plan and install new pop-up pedestrian and bike facilities at the intersection of May Street and 17th/18th Streets, a dogleg intersection adjacent to their school. The intersection design, which will include a protected intersection near the school and pop-up mobility lanes on the approaching streets, was created by PSU civil engineering students as part of the Better Block PSU program.

After the 6-month pilot demonstration is complete, the project will undergo community feedback and design modifications before infrastructure is permanently installed by the City of Hood River.

Left: Intersection of 17th/May St (Google Street View, 2022). Right: Map of the project location.

HOW DID THIS PROJECT COME ABOUT?

The project is led by Megan Ramey, Hood River County School District's Safe Routes to School...

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In 2019 Olivia Nell wasn't sure what she wanted to study in college. A junior in high school, she discovered a free transportation summer camp at Portland State University (PSU) for high schoolers. After seeing the behind-the-scenes workings of transportation in Portland, Oregon and meeting local professionals, she knew she wanted to pursue: engineering.

"I really enjoyed my time at the camp, and it helped me narrow down my educational interests. I am now in my third year of college at Oregon State University studying mechanical engineering, hoping to focus on renewable energy," Olivia said.

This summer she returned to the camp as a counselor to mentor the next cohort of Oregon high school students. She is one of five past students to do so.

"Three of our counselors this year were past camp students. I think that in itself speaks to the importance of this camp in drawing people to the transportation profession," said Hau Hagedorn, associate director of the Transportation Research Education Center (TREC) at PSU.

Olivia decided to return because she appreciates how the camp positively impacts students: "I wanted to be a part of a team that allows for students to explore various career...

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We've just published a brand new set of four "How Walkable is Your Neighborhood?" education modules for high school students (download here)!

The modules, which can be taught in sequence or as standalone lessons, provide students with creative ways of observing transportation systems in their neighborhoods through collecting pedestrian data, critically evaluating accessibility, and learning about livable communities. Students will gain a deeper understanding of how people move through their community, and whether the transportation in their community is designed with the needs of all people in mind. 

This curriculum was originally developed for the National Summer Transportation Institute (NSTI) - a STEM-focused transportation summer camp for high school students. In 2020, when the camps were converted to a virtual format for the first time, new tools had to be developed for student engagement and learning. These walkability modules were completed during the virtual camps, but are not dependent on a...

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Screenshot from a Zoom session of the 2020 summer camp, showing the faces of participating students in a grid layout.

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 

    ...
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Text reads: TREC student spotlight, Nora Stoelting. Image is of Nora (right) with an aquamarine sleeveless shirt, and a photo (left) of summer camp students touring a bridge.

Nora Stoelting is pursuing a dual master's degree in Leadership for Sustainability Education and Urban and Regional Planning at Portland State University. She is excited about the ways these two programs intersect in building a more dynamic, connected, and sustainable world. Nora's background is in garden education and environmental advocacy, and she most recently worked in waste minimization with airport businesses at PDX. Nora is thrilled to join TREC to work on education programming through integrating tactical urbanism projects into PSU classes via Better Block PSU and designing TREC's free summer camp for high school students. She believes strongly in the power of collaborative, holistic, experiential teaching and learning to transform ourselves and the world.

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Tell us about yourself?

I am a cis, female, white, 27 year old graduate student living in NE Portland. I am currently pursuing a double masters in Leadership for Sustainability Education and Urban and Regional Planning. I am passionate about such a wide, interconnected array of topics that it was impossible to pick one program! Lately I have been really interested in envisioning a libertory future (within myself and the world). I...

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Bridge tour

We're offering two week-long transportation residence camps at Portland State University this summer:

June 23–29 Oregon Summer Transportation Institute 2019 at Portland State University

July 14–20 National Summer Transportation Institute 2019 at Portland State University

We are looking for Residential Counselors to provide supervision for campers and ensure their safety and well-being. Counselors are expected to serve as leaders, boundary setters, and role models throughout the program, including during class time. Counselors are available to the campers and staff 24 hours per day during the camp session. During the day when campers are in class, counselors will assist in the classroom and be of general assistance to the other program directors and instructors. All counselors will be in residence on the Campus for the duration of the Institute.

Interested in applying? Download the job description (PDF) for more information.

The Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University is home to the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), the Initiative for Bicycle and...

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Nineteen girls presented ingenious transportation ideas to a packed room on Friday, August 18, the closing day of TREC's 2017 National Summer Transportation Institute (NSTI). For two weeks, the high schoolers had stayed in Ondine Residence Hall on the Portland State University campus; meeting for daily lectures at PSU's Engineering Building, hearing from some of the women who run transportation systems in Portland, Oregon and touring the city's agencies.

In between guest lectures and field trips, the NSTI class worked on group projects, which they presented at Friday's closing event to their family members and the course instructors.

On the first day of the camp, they were asked to think about a real-world transportation problem so they could use the skills they would gain to present a solution at the end of the course. The problems were real, and the solutions were impressive.

It might be because the guest lecturers were actual practitioners, who gave real talk about the issues they've encountered in their work and how they've tried to solve them.

It might also be because the curriculum was directed by TREC's own amazing Lisa Patterson and Ellee Stapleton along with...

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The success of TREC’s first summer program for high-school girls shows promise for the future transportation workforce. The National Summer Transportation Institute, held July 11-22, gave 22 girls classroom and hands-on instruction with transportation experts in various fields and sectors.  

While high school girls and boys enroll in higher science and math classes at the same rate, fewer girls persist in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math. That carries into the workforce, where women still hold a small percentage of transportation-related jobs. Fewer than a quarter of transportation supervisors, and under 14 percent of civil engineers are women, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

...

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After meeting with TREC researchers earlier this year, a team of students from Grant High School in Portland, Oregon developed a mobile app that uses real-time data to help cyclists find available bike parking, and took three awards in Portland State University’s High School Innovation Challenge.

The app, which senses the presence or absence of a bicycle’s tire with a logic box located at the bike rack, could also be used to notify owners if their bicycle is removed (i.e. stolen) when they are not present.

Saturday, April 11 was the third annual High School Innovation Challenge, a STEM competition sponsored by the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science at PSU.

  • Read the Oregonian's coverage of the event here.

The Grant team won the awards for Best Presentation, Best Technology Focus, and Audience Favorite, making them the only team entered in the 2015 challenge to receive more than one award.

Team members Cory Koehler, Aubrey Masten, Konon Phillips, Richard Smith, Sarah St. Clair and Alex Taylor met with TREC researchers in mid-February for...

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Students from area high schools explored the sustainable transportation research Portland State University is known for during tours Feb. 11-12. The tours, led by the researchers themselves, were part of the Portland State High School Innovation Challenge competition.

Groups from Grant and Franklin high schools in Portland heard from TREC researchers and got behind-the-scenes looks at the technology behind transportation systems. John MacArthur, Sirisha Kothuri, Alex Bigazzi, Miguel Figliozzi and Krista Nordback shared their research and insights.

Student teams from nine teams will now work on proposals to solve a problem related to this year’s theme, smart cities. The teams work with Portland State student mentors majoring in engineering or computer science. Teams will compete and present their final projects before judges in early April.

Now in its third year, the competition was designed to provide a first look at engineering for high school students, particularly those who previously hadn’t considered the field. The competition focuses on the ways engineering and design can help people and solve real-world problems.

Participants in...

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