How can community members become more engaged in transportation decision making?

Individuals and groups can learn to effect powerful change, but success requires some familiarity with how civic processes work. Community Transportation Academies, or CTAs, provide a basic technical understanding of how a city or region’s transportation system operates, along with the decision makers and decision-making processes that determine how the system is shaped.

Supported by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), the new Wasatch Transportation Academy (WTA) at the University of Utah was piloted in 2022 in the Salt Lake City region. The research team developed a course vision, topics, and logistics for the WTA by interviewing stakeholders in the Utah Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, the Utah Department of Transportation, the Utah Transit Authority, Salt Lake County, Salt Lake City, and the Wasatch Front Regional Council. Led by Nathan McNeil of Portland State University and Keith Bartholomew of the University of Utah, the WTA used the established Portland Traffic and Transportation class in Portland, Oregon as a framework. 

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How could a free transportation class for people living in the Salt Lake City region strengthen community conversations and advocacy around local priorities in transportation policy? Researchers at Portland State University (PSU) and University of Utah (UU) explored that question by bringing a well-known learning model from Portland, Oregon to SLC.

For over 25 years, the Portland Bureau of Transportation has partnered with PSU to offer the Portland Traffic and Transportation Course – a free 10-week course designed to provide local community members the skills and knowledge to participate in transportation decisions affecting their neighborhoods. This model has proven to be a success story in public agency-university partnership in community education. Building upon a 2015 project that documented the Portland course and developed a curriculum handbook, the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) has provided more funding for a pilot community transportation class–the Wasatch Transportation Academy– in Salt Lake, City Utah. Their first class was held on January 24, 2022 (view class recordings here) and ran through...

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The Spring term at Portland State University starts March 28, 2022, and registration opens March 7 for non-degree students. (Students who are already enrolled in a PSU degree program can register online now.) Lifelong learning is a guiding principle of PSU, and anyone interested can take transportation courses through the non-degree application process or as a post-baccalaureate student. Taking a course can be a good way to see if one of our graduate degree programs is right for you.

See PSU’s COVID-19 Student Resources for the latest information regarding the return to campus and PSU's ongoing response to the pandemic.

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Non-degree or non-...

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The winter term at Portland State University starts January 3, 2022, and registration opens December 13 for non-degree students. Students enrolled in a PSU degree program can register online now. Lifelong learning is a guiding principle of PSU, and anyone interested can take transportation courses through the non-degree application process or as a post-baccalaureate student. Taking a course can be a good way to see if one of our graduate degree programs is right for you.

See PSU’s COVID-19 Student Resources for the latest info on our campus vaccination requirement for students and...

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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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Transportation defines Portland, Oregon. Portland State University (PSU) shapes transportation professionals who, in turn, shape cities across the world. Our students conduct cutting-edge research under the guidance of the world’s foremost transportation research faculty at PSU - from both the Toulan School of Urban Studies & Planning and the department of Civil & Environmental Engineering of MCECS.

WHAT MAKES TRANSPORTATION UNIQUE AT PORTLAND STATE UNIVERSITY (PSU)?

  • An active and engaged...

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The Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State is committed to open-access learning. Grounded in research, we connect students and professionals to current best practices in transportation through free webinars and seminars open to the public. Since 2002, we have maintained an extensive education library, archiving over 500 hours of these videos and countless megabytes of reading material.

Want to learn on your own time and/or earn professional development credits (AICP, and more)? Explore the TREC Education Library, or check out our “Top Ten” list below.

TREC TOP TEN: GREATEST MOBILITY HITS of 2018

Below are our most popular presentations from 2018 - watched by a combined total of 2,367 viewers:

An Accessible Approach to Shared Streets

January 25, 2018 (Webinar)
Janet Barlow, Accessible Design for the Blind; Jim Elliott, Toole Design Group; Dan Goodman, Federal Highway Administration
Hear from members of the team who...
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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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It’s never too early to start teaching kids about careers in transportation. Though they might not be ready for complex engineering equations, elementary school children are more than ready to form ideas about possible futures.

On July 27 at Poynter Middle School in Hillsboro, Oregon, around 70 young Latina girls learned about different transportation modes, mapped their neighborhoods, and exchanged ideas with seven female professionals who work in transportation in the Portland metro area.

Lisa Patterson, TREC’s workforce development program manager, coordinated the event with Chicas Youth Development, a program of Adelante Mujeres. Patterson and a crew of six dedicated volunteers taught three transportation-focused workshops at a Chicas summer scholastic camp. 

The purpose of the workshops was to teach students about transportation concepts and introduce them to the possibility that they could grow up to work in transportation, an industry very much in need of a diverse workforce.

Patterson and volunteers Olivia Holden, Gwen Chambers, Molly McCormick, Erin Wardell, Jessica Pelz and Tegan Enloe spent the day in three workshops with different age groups, leading brainstorming exercises and encouraging the girls to think about the ways in which transportation affects their daily lives. 

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