The November-December spotlight was written by Ellen Simpson, Secretary of the Oregon State University ITE Student Chapter. OSU will be hosting the 2018 Student Leadership Summit, and the student chapter would like to share their thoughts on this endeavor and the Student Endowment Fund:
The Oregon State University student chapter would like to thank the Student Endowment Fund (SEF) for providing such generous support for the Student Leadership Conference (SLS). Our leadership team has dedicated many hours to trying to find sponsors for this event and Western District ITE has helped us reach our fundraising goal. Our student chapter is very grateful for the SEF; this is not the first time we have benefited from this fund which allows us to continue to grow as a chapter and better serve our members. The 2018 SLS is the first time that our chapter has had the opportunity to serve other transportation students, and we are very excited to show them what we can do. Without the assistance from the SEF, the 2018 SLS would not be as big of a success as I anticipate.
The 2018 SLS is being held for the first time outside of California, and we are thrilled to have so many transportation students come visit beautiful Oregon. Because this might be many people’s first visit to Oregon we want to make sure they leave with happy memories and a desire to come back. When our student chapter applied to host the 2018 Student Leadership Conference we had never before attempted to plan such a large and complicated event. However, after being selected to host in April our leadership team put our noses to the grindstone and began planning. With an anticipated 120 student attendees, there were a lot of details to iron out. All of the SLS planning committee had to step up and take on duties that they had never attempted. Some of the planning elements went more smoothly than others, but any arguments we had over appetizers and t-shirt colors were quickly resolved. While these may seem like minor issues to outsiders, we are trying to live up to the four previous summits in the Western district. The planning process, while stressful, has ultimately improved the abilities of our student chapter both as a whole and individually. We are getting very close to the conference and have secured some very compelling speakers and presentations for our attendees.
We are very excited to have Oregon Department of Transportation Director Matthew Garrett as our keynote speaker during the banquet. Mr. Garrett assumed the directorship in 2005 manages an agency that employs approximately 4,500 people with a biennial budget of 3.5 billion. Outside of his career with the state of Oregon, he also serves on the Board of Directors of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and is also the Chairman of the AASHTO Standing Committee on the Environment. We are very honored to have Mr. Garrett come speak at SLS and believe that he will provide a unique perspective on leadership in transportation.
The rest of the conference will be filled with engaging technical presentations from professionals from varying backgrounds, a panel discussion on career development, and small group mentor sessions. Attendees will interact with some of the best transportation minds that Oregon has to offer. We are looking forward to seeing familiar and new faces here in Corvallis in January and hope that everyone in Western ITE is as excited as we are. The OSU student chapter and myself would like to extend a final thank you to Western ITE and the SEF. Without their support our chapter would not be thriving and growing as it is now and we would never be able to successfully host SLS.
Contributions to the Endowment Fund can be made at westernite.org/endowment-fund/endowment-fund-contribute/
Thank you to all of the teams that participated in the MiteY Races in San Diego, CA and Toronto, Canada! This year, the Western District once again hosted TWO MiteY Race events. The first race was held in conjunction with the Western District Annual Meeting in San Diego CA as a fundraiser for the Western District Student Endowment Fund. We kicked off the race entitled “MR8: Mission (Bay) Impossible” on Saturday with 8 family/friends and 6 student teams completing fun, but challenging tasks around the Hilton San Diego Resort. The top family & friends teams were:
- 1st Place: Mighty Montanans – Michael and Quinn Sanderson
- 2nd Place: MiteY Minions – Mark and Alex Spencer
- 3rd Place: 5.75 Moore – Devin, Karina, Becca, Avery, and Toby Moore
The top student teams were:
- 1st Place: Cal State Fool Around – Joseantonio Hernandez and Maniriam Phoummathep-Winspear from Cal State Fullerton
- 2nd Place: Hasta La Vista, Prima Fascie – Emilio Murga and Elizabeth Gonzalez from Cal State Fullerton
- 3rd Place: Schwifty Aztecs – Matthew Zipagan and Alexis Ramos from San Diego State University
In addition to the San Diego MiteY Race, we also held the second Intermational MiteY Race in conjunction with the Joint ITE/CITE Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada. The Toronto MiteY Race (entitled “On Thin Ice”) was held on August 1st as part of Hockey Night in Canada. We had 11 family/friends and 7 student teams racing through pit stops located around the Sheraton Centre Toronto. The 1st place family & friends team was the Canadian team of Angela Gibson and Vanessa Skelton. The 1st place student team was from the University of Alberta…Matt Woo and Brian Tran. We were so pleased to be able to once again share this Western District tradition with the rest of ITE!
The July-August Endowment Fund spotlight was written by Joseph Claveria from Oregon State University. Joseph was one of four recipients of the inaugural Regional Travel Scholarship, the District’s newest Student Initiative supported by the Endowment Fund. The following are Joseph’s thoughts on ITE and the Student Endowment Fund:
Thank you, Western District ITE for supporting the Richard T. Romer Student Endowment Fund! Although I have only been an official ITE student member for less than a year, this fund has facilitated opportunities that I did not imagine prior to starting my graduate program in transportation engineering. Without the initiatives of this fund, I would not have gained the same memorable experiences and meaningful relationships in my brief time as an ITE student member. This fund, including the entirety of the Western District, has proven to me that my involvement with ITE is one of the best decisions I have made as a student in transportation engineering. Here is my attempt at sharing the overwhelming benefits both the Oregon State University (OSU) Student Chapter and I have experienced from this fund.
This year, the Student Endowment Fund (SEF) provided its inaugural Travel Scholarship to assist with travel expenses for the Western District’s Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA. Although I was the selected recipient from the District’s North region, other members from the OSU ITE student chapter significantly benefited from this award as well. The award helped our chapter accommodate an additional member to attend the conference, and since we were travelling from Oregon down to sunny San Diego, sending additional members is no cheap task. Through the support of the SEF, all four of the OSU ITE students in attendance at the Annual Meeting developed their professional skills and relationships, and discovered new insights in the transportation engineering field.
Personally, this year’s Annual Meeting was an eye-opening experience. I was able to meet new people, some of whom are either presidents, directors, or founders of engineering firms and agencies, expand my transportation knowledge beyond the classroom, and witness the close bond between ITE members. This experience would not have been possible without assistance from the SEF. Attending this year’s Annual Meeting has encouraged me to continue my involvement with ITE and attend future meetings as a student and professional.
Additionally, the support of the SEF for travel to the Annual Meeting allowed the OSU students to explore and enjoy the beautiful city of San Diego between conference events!
Despite finishing second place at this year’s Western District Traffic Bowl, OSU ITE won a greater opportunity by being selected as hosts for the 2018 Student Leadership Summit (SLS), which is also supported by the SEF. As a participant at the 2017 SLS, I can honestly say that the summit is a unique experience that gathers students and professionals from across the District in a casual environment. This summit was my first exposure to the Western District. I made new connections, many of whom I met again at the Annual Meeting, and developed my knowledge and professionalism in transportation engineering. As hosts for the upcoming SLS, OSU ITE members will collaborate and work as a team to expand upon the success of the previous summits. This opportunity will help develop our members and other student chapter members into better engineers for the Western District.
As regularly mentioned throughout this year’s Annual Meeting, ITE, both at the district and international levels, is strongly supportive of student development and enrichment. The SEF is one such mechanism that fosters student growth and immerses students into the ITE community. All of the fund’s initiatives (i.e. travel support to conferences, funding for SLS, data collection projects, chapter awards, etc.) provide opportunities for students to gain intangible skills that will benefit their academic and professional careers. As a single student member, I’m grateful to have received some of these benefits. The SEF has the potential to provide these same benefits to many more students across the District.
In closing, I’d like to thank all those who have made reaching the $500K mark a reality. Your support truly goes a long way in developing students into future ITE leaders. And big kudos to the Student Endowment Fund Chair, Kimberly Leung, and the previous Chairs for shepherding this fund and its initiatives.
Contributions to the Endowment Fund can be made at westernite.org/endowment-fund/endowment-fund-contribute/
The May-June Endowment Fund spotlight was written by Ashley Kim, President of the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo ITE Student Chapter and recipient of the 2016 Western District Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award. The following is the story of Ashley’s ITE journey and her thoughts on the Student Endowment Fund:
As Cal Poly San Luis Obispo ITE students and I are preparing to attend, for me the last time as a student, the Western District Annual Meeting in San Diego, I wanted to reflect on my ITE journey as a student. So far, my ITE journey has spanned just two and a half years, but this time has been the most rewarding and a great learning experience. I will share how your contributions toward the Richard T. Romer Student Endowment Fund have impacted my journey.
To be honest, when I attended my first ITE conference, the 2nd Annual Student Leadership Summit at Sacramento State, I had no idea that it was strongly supported by the Student Endowment Fund or that such a fund existed. I had such an awesome time meeting students, professionals, and even fellow chapter members whom I hadn’t met until the Summit. I walked away from Summit wanting to be more involved with ITE through the Student Chapter. The officers at that time encouraged me to run for 2015-2016 Vice President and it was one of the most nerve-wrecking leaps of faith I’ve taken. During that term, I had a great time serving Cal Poly ITE under Krista Purser’s presidency. We hosted general meetings, social events, firm tours, and travel to various meetings.
When the 2016 Western District Annual Meeting in Albuquerque was only a few months away, our chapter put together our Traffic Bowl Team. In a fun, competitive event to defend our title, the Cal Poly SLO team took home the Western District Traffic Bowl trophy. The competition prize included a monetary prize from the Student Endowment Fund toward the winning student chapter to travel to the ITE International Meeting.
The Cal Poly ITE chapter submitted a proposal to the James H. Kell competition and was selected as the student chapter to lead the competition at the annual meeting in Albuquerque. For the 2016 competition, the Cal Poly chapter led a “Wayfinder” game, challenging students to create routes by placing paper squares of given “segments” onto a grid. For our efforts, the Cal Poly chapter was awarded a monetary prize of $1,500 from the Student Endowment Fund to pay for travel costs to the Western District Annual meeting. Through the chapter’s avid participation at the meeting, we took home the Student Chapter Award as well as the Student Chapter Website Award, which were provided by the Student Endowment Fund.
At the Western District Luncheon in Albuquerque, I could not believe my ears when they called my name for the 2016 Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award. It was truly an honor to receive the recognition, and I am very thankful. This award, given through the Student Initiatives Committee and Student Endowment Fund, includes registration for the Western District Annual Meeting and a $500 scholarship.
Our student chapter participated in the Western District Data Collection. We gained practical experience by counting trips at a sporting goods store, generating technical data for the profession and sparking interest in transportation. We were one of the five schools to receive funds for completing the data collection that will support travel to the Western District Annual meeting.
This academic year, I currently serve as the Cal Poly ITE chapter President. I learned that the by serving time and energy toward ITE, I’ve learned leadership skills and gained so many friendships, professional connections, swag, travels all over the Western District, and a lifetime of memories. I am only one student out of the hundreds the Western District Student Endowment Fund has supported, but it has incredibly impacted my ITE journey. I can’t wait to participate in professional ITE and give back to the Student Endowment Fund.
I would like to express my utmost gratitude toward the contributors of the Student Endowment Fund. It is truly an accomplishment to reach $500K. This is only the beginning and needs to grow–this milestone will only maintain the student chapter momentum. I challenge each and every one of you to contribute to the Student Endowment Fund to not only sustain and grow student involvement, but also attract the best and brightest transportation students to ITE. Thank you for contributing toward us students who are the future of the transportation industry. Thank you for your encouragement to join ITE, to pursue careers in transportation, and to chase our dreams.
& thank you to the Student Endowment Chair Kimberly Leung for your tireless effort that you’ve given toward the Student Endowment Fund. You inspired me from your Spring 2015 Cal Poly visit to continue participating in ITE! Hope to see you all in San Diego in June!
Contributions to the Endowment Fund can be made at westernite.org/endowment-fund/endowment-fund-contribute/
The March-April spotlight was written by Kimberly Leung, the Western District Student Endowment Fund Chair. In Fall 2016, the Endowment Fund officially closed the gap and reached its $500,000 goal, and now the Western District Board has voted to expand its Student Initiatives Program. The following are Kimberly’s thoughts on the Student Endowment Fund and its next steps:
As a UC Berkeley student in 2009, I was unknowingly reaping the benefits of the Endowment Fund when the James H. Kell Student Award helped to reinvigorate an entire student chapter at UC Berkeley and to bring my classmates and me to our first Annual Meeting in Denver. However, it was not until I was appointed as the Student Endowment Fund Chair in 2013 that I fully realized the extent to which the Western District supports our students. Since the inception of the Endowment Fund, it has supported over $15,000 in Student Initiatives annually, which includes:
- Support for the Student Leadership Summit ($1,000)
- Funding for the Data Collection Fund ($1,000/project for 5 projects)
- Funding ($1,500) and awards ($300) for the James H. Kell competition held at the Western District Annual Meeting
- Support of travel for our winning Student Traffic Bowl team to the ITE International Meeting ($1,000)
- Support of travel to the ITE International Meeting if a Western District student chapter wins the International Student Chapter Award ($1,000)
- Awards for student chapter annual reports ($100/report for 25 reports)
- Awards for our student paper winner ($500), outstanding graduate ($500) and undergraduate ($500) students, and outstanding student chapter ($1,000) at the Western District Annual Meeting
- Sponsoring special events for students and professionals ($250)
Now that the Endowment Fund has reached $500,000, it is self-sustaining and generates enough annual revenue to support the current Student Initiatives. But this is not the end of the journey for the Endowment Fund. I am always receiving feedback from our contributors about what more can be done, ranging from more travel assistance to more technical training, to support our students. Now that we have reached our goal, we have considered numerous next steps for the Endowment Fund. Earlier this year, the Western District Board voted to expand its Student Initiatives Program by $3,000 annually, and I am most pleased to announce that this will go into effect starting with the Annual Meeting in San Diego this summer!
Our newest Student Initiative is $2,000 in annual Regional Travel Scholarships for students to attend the District’s Annual Meeting. The purpose of this scholarship is to provide financial support for one student from each of four regions (North, East, South, and West), and each recipient will receive $500. The Western District aims to achieve more regional diversity in the students attending our meetings by providing travel assistance to students who may not have otherwise attended.
Additionally, the Endowment Fund currently supports five projects for the Data Collection Fund. Every year, we have significantly more student chapters applying for these projects than funding is available. Starting in Fall 2017, an additional $1,000 will be included in the Data Collection Fund to support a sixth data collection project.
The Western District Board has generously provided the financial support to fund the additional $3,000 in Student Initiatives for the next three years as the Student Endowment Fund Committee kicks off our fundraising plan. Moving forward, as you make your contributions to the Endowment Fund, you will be prompted to designate your contribution for either:
- The General Fund, which includes all of the Student Initiatives supported by the Endowment Fund, or
- The Regional Travel Scholarship, which helps to activate the scholarship for your chosen region.
Thank you to the support of our leaders and members at the District, Section, and Chapter levels to get us to the $500,000 milestone. I hope that you continue on this journey with the Student Endowment Fund as we expand our Student Initiatives Program to support the next generation of transportation professionals. Contributions to the Endowment Fund can be made at westernite.org/endowment-fund/endowment-fund-contribute/
The January-February Spotlight was written by Emilio Murga, who chaired the 4th Annual Student Leadership Summit, which was hosted by Cal State Fullerton. Annually, the Student Endowment Fund provides $1000 in funding to support the SLS. The following are Emilio’s thoughts on the SLS and Endowment Fund:
It’s been a couple of weeks since the 4th Annual ITE Western District Student Leadership Summit (SLS) at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF), which took place January 13-15, 2017. It was nothing short of a great time and by every measure a huge success. Peppered throughout this summary are the many familiar names of those who spoke, participated, and volunteered during the weekend. They played a huge role in the success of the event and we cannot thank them enough. The goal for this SLS from the beginning was to have more students and professionals than any other SLS with attendance from the closest and furthest reaches of the Western District. Our goal as hosts, was to grow a larger chapter with the same passion passed on since beginning in 2012, as well as influence the Civil Engineering department to add more transportation courses to the curriculum.
When we were awarded the SLS in April of 2016, we were mostly excited to bring that ITE Western District energy to our peers on campus. We set our sights high—we sought to attract many devoted transportation students and professionals to an event that provides insight to the perplexing Southern California driving culture that has historically and overwhelmingly preferred freeways to mass transit. As the biggest SLS yet, we required a big budget. We began our fundraising last summer before heading to the Western District Meeting in Albuquerque, NM. In Albuquerque, we promoted, met potential speakers, and potential sponsors. Our promotional campaign continued at the International Meeting, conveniently located in neighboring Anaheim, CA. We continued throughout autumn as we went to every SoCalITE, RSBITE, and OCTEC event to continue connecting with students, professionals, and sponsors.
The stressful months of intricate preparation paid off as students arrived on Friday afternoon and stepped into the first major event, the ‘Company Meet and Greet.’ From afar, this opening event resembled a career fair, but up close it was a stress-free opportunity to connect students and representatives from numerous companies and agencies. Students learned about the firms and agencies, opportunities available, and what experiences would make students most valuable. Next, we enjoyed a fabulous buffet dinner and listened to speakers Neelam Dorman and Shawn Leight. The night closed with an introduction to the weekend-long group project and the randomly assigned student groups named after famous Southern California freeways, interchanges, and passes.
Saturday started early with technical presentations from Monica Suter, RailPros, Walter Okistu, Rock Miller, LA Metro, and California Highspeed Rail. An hour-long ITS panel followed with panelists Carlos Ortiz, John Lower, Randy Durrenberger, and Dennis Ralls. Zaki Mustafa and his wife, Loraine, prepared a magnificent barbecue lunch served by Ken Ackeret, Bruce Belmore, Shawn Leight, and other ITE professionals. Zaki gave his customary post-lunch address right before we took the massive SLS photo. Before things could settle down, the speed interviews kicked off. More than fifty professionals volunteered to help students get over those first jitters. The speed interviews were broken up into segments with alternating student groups. While one half was getting past typical interview questions, the other group was working on their group projects with help from Bruce Belmore, Josh McNeill, and Shawn Leight. There was a break afterwards to prepare for the bountiful banquet in the evening at the Fullerton Marriott where Ken Ackeret and Jessica Meany spoke, students danced, and everyone hopped into the photo booth.
Sunday began early too, with the whole morning devoted to last day of the competitions for the best group project. Fourteen student groups assembled into community action groups to present advertisements to a jury of more than a dozen professionals. The students had been assigned to be in-favor or opposed to a fictional development at CSUF that would create a stronger campus community, but would have major traffic implications for nearby neighborhoods. Four teams proceeded to the semifinals where they gave a public address at a mock town hall meeting. Afterward, the final two teams pled their case at a mock city council meeting with council members Eric Shen, Bruce Belmore, Dave Roseman, Shawn Leight, and seven-term incumbent mayor Mark Spencer. The council ultimately decided to wait to make a final decision on an unspecified future date, which meant that the opposed community group had prevailed. Mark Spencer and Dave Roseman gave the closing remarks before students went off with their boxed lunches to one of two options for technical tours. Students could choose between the Monrovia Station and neighboring LA Metro Maintenance and Operations Yard hosted by Jonathan Hofert; or a tour of the Anaheim Traffic Management Center (TMC) and Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC) hosted by several engineers from the City of Anaheim.
During a short break, Neelam Dorman asked “would I do it again if I could go back?” The answer still remains true, even a few weeks later, “Absolutely!” The SLS is the most spectacular and important event our chapter has ever organized, hosted, and participated in. It has introduced us to so many amazing people and organizations, and created a deeper connection into the fabric of ITE. Many student volunteers that had never attended an ITE event off campus now asked about upcoming section and district meetings. The chair of our department was floored by the attendance and participation from the ITE community. I am confident that there will be new transportation classes being added to the course schedule in coming semesters. We owe so much to the Student Endowment Fund and the Western District for their never-ending support, generosity, and graciousness. There will never be sufficient words to properly thank them for all their help specific to this SLS and for creating such a rich network that makes it so easy for students to become stronger leaders and become more focused on their careers.
The November-December Spotlight was written by Past President Cathy Leong and President Mark Spencer. The Student Endowment Fund officially closed the gap and reached its $500,000 goal at the end of the summer. The following are their thoughts on this achievement and the next steps for the Student Endowment Fund:
(by Cathy Leong) Nelson Mandela said to “Remember to celebrate milestones as you prepare for the road ahead”…I feel that this is where we are right now. When I was first appointed as the Western District Endowment Fund Committee Chair in 2007, the Endowment Fund had $40,000. Our $500,000 goal seems like such a daunting task and I often wondered how we were going to get there. Now we stand at that threshold and as celebrate how far we’ve come, I feel the need to look back and reminisce about how we reached this milestone.
Over the years we have tried every trick in the book to make sure everyone knew that that the District had an Endowment Fund and what it was for. We had a dedicated group of people that shook hands, sent emails, made phone calls, held auctions and raffles, and even sold tattoos to help raise awareness of the fund.
The response from our Sections, Chapters, and members was overwhelming. Our Sections/Chapters raised money annually to contribute to the fund in addition to supporting all of their local programs. In addition, many of our contributors kept coming back, year after year, donating what they could at the time. We always said that it would only take a little bit from everyone to meet our goal…and that’s really how we got here.
So where is here? And how are the funds being spent to benefit our students throughout the District? These questions have been asked regularly by our contributors and members. The District currently supports over $15,000 in student initiatives each year. These initiatives include:
- Funding and awards for the James H. Kell competition held at the Western District Annual Meeting
- Funding for data collection projects (5 projects per year)
- Support of travel for our winning Student Traffic Bowl team to the ITE International Meeting
- Support of travel to the ITE International Meeting if a Western District student chapter wins the International Student Chapter Award
- Support for the Student Leadership Summit
- Awards for student chapter annual reports
- Awards for our student paper winner, outstanding graduate and undergraduate students, and outstanding student chapter at the Western District Annual Meeting
So, is $500k enough? The answer is yes and no. Yes, we are currently earning enough per year to support our existing student initiatives program. But no, we are not earning enough per year to expand our program to include new initiatives. The District has always had the long-tern goal to expand our current initiatives to include new programs to support and retain our best and brightest students. So let’s celebrate how far we’ve come, but now is the time to plan for the future.
(by Mark Spencer) It’s been a journey. Our Student Endowment Fund is now ten years old and $500,000 strong. And looking forward, we can’t stop believing in the future of our profession. The first $500,000 should be viewed as our first level goal; it’s an awesome achievement, and now it’s time to set new goals. Over the course of my career, starting when I was a student chapter President and now as a Western District officer, I have visited many ITE student chapters, met with students and faculty, hired student interns, participated in career guidance programs, and attended Student Leadership Summits. I get it, and I know we can do so much more. We now have the opportunity to reach many more students than ever before.
To start, we can expand our current initiatives. As an example, increasing the funding of the data collection project will allow more schools to participate and receive funds. And providing more funding for student travel to conferences or the Student Leadership Summit will increase the benefits and level of engagement we have with our student members.
And while we can and should expand our current student programs, for our profession to evolve and flourish, we must push the envelope. We need to train, mentor and create opportunities for each successive generation in order to retain them in our profession.
Training is an area that cuts across all student chapters. But no matter whether a school has one transportation class or many, they all could use more. Perhaps it’s materials, or lectures, or gaining hands on experience. And it’s not just technical training. Successful engineers and planners need to be able to communicate, to multi-task, and understand the interrelationships of our industry alongside others.
We have had mentorship programs come and go at the District level, and also at the Section and Student Chapter levels as well. Many of us have benefitted from mentorship programs, either as a mentee or a mentor. Perhaps we can now refresh our approach, focus on best practices, and help student mentorship programs in a new and modern way.
All of the hard work and effort we put into creating, building and sustaining the Student Endowment Fund puts the onus on all of us to create opportunities. With our currently rebounding economy there are more jobs for students coming out of school. We can improve the ways we connect the workforce and students with one another.
You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one. Many members contributed to the Student Endowment Fund over its first ten years, and all of us should be commended on reaching an important milestone. And now we must move forward. I hope you’ll join us!
The Student Endowment Fund has officially closed the gap and reached its $500,000 goal! Thank you to the support of our leaders and members at the District, Section, and Chapter levels to get us to this point. Hear more about this achievement and the next steps for the Endowment Fund from Past President Cathy Leong and President Mark Spencer in the SEF November/December Spotlight.
The September-October Spotlight was written by ITE International President Paula Flores (Benway). The following are her thoughts on the Student Endowment Fund:
As the 2016 ITE International President, I have had the honor to visit with our North American Districts and some sections at their annual meetings. Every chapter, section, and district is unique in their events, programs, culture, and traditions. Being from the east coast, it wasn’t until my ITE Vice Presidential campaign travels that I visited the Western District and was instantly in awe of the extensive student initiatives and support to sustain 39 student chapters. The Southern District comes in second with 28 student chapters, but this certainly is neither the norm nor the average; most districts have less than a dozen student chapters. Spending most of my career in the Northeastern District, they only have a dozen student chapters and my section had only two student chapters. Student programs were a central topic of conversation during board meetings and annual budget cycle; but nothing close to what happens in the Western District.
ITE International conducted a membership survey earlier this spring that acknowledged “48% of respondents learned of ITE through their ITE student chapter, professor, and classmates at their school.” Another statistic from the survey identified 26% of those not renewing their membership was because they weren’t engaged or involved. These are eye opening statistics that speaks to the lasting power of investing in our student programs and activities. Keeping our students engaged and contributing to the industry and the organization is so central to our existence. Student members are the future of ITE!
ITE International has a long standing practice of active programs and career services for students and young professionals. ITE also recognizes talented young members through the awards program. At the International level, there are awards for Student Chapter activities and the Daniel B. Fambro Student Paper, and for young members, there is the new Rising Stars Program and the Young Member of the Year award. The Collegiate Traffic Bowl is the most successful program and draws hundreds of students across North America competing at the section and district levels and at the grand championship at the ITE Annual Meeting. Being selected to be part of these events and recognizing talented young members within ITE provides opportunities for our young members to network, be engaged, and to grow professionally.
Similar awards and scholarship programs exist at district, section, and chapter levels. Programs such as the Student Leadership Summit, originating in the Western District, is in its third year and has grown in popularity that the Midwestern and Texas Districts are in the process of replicating the event. We have also seen an increase in student focused events at the annual meetings, including poster sessions, the James H. Kell Student Competition, and student and young professionals’ session tracks that include resume and interview workshop and other topics. These are all fantastic activities that need your support.
Getting students and young professionals to attend annual meetings provides a great opportunity for them to learn more about the transportation industry by meeting with professionals and other students and by becoming engaged in ITE. The challenge with all of the student and young professional programs and activities is getting students and young professionals to be part of these events at the chapter, section, district, and international level. It’s not enough to develop these programs, we must ensure that our students and young members have the opportunity to attend by offering subsidized or free registrations, travel stipends, and even award prizes to support their efforts. Most sections and districts already do a great job of securing funding for all of these programs. However, in the Western District due to the significant number (39) of student chapters, the continued program growth and need for funding continues to increase. Hence, a long term sustainable funding stream is important and is the reason why the Student Endowment Fund emerged. The fund started in 2004 and through creative fundraising events, it has almost reached the $500K goal. This is not only fantastic, but extraordinary and certainly one of a kind. I do recall the first time I was tagged to contribute to the fund through the creative adaptation of the “ice bucket challenge.” While it looked like a lot of fun, I chose to contribute instead. Very nice strategy Western District! I know that sections and chapters have done outstanding work in supporting students and the Endowment Fund. Almost all of the Western District sections have some type of fundraising events for their student programs and are contributing generously. This is a one of a kind program and it shows your dedication to our young members; so please help in closing the gap by contributing often!
The July-August Spotlight was written by Tom Mericle, who is an ITE Fellow and the City Transportation Manager for the City of Ventura. Tom is one of our newest Visionary level Endowment Fund contributors. The following are his thoughts on the Student Endowment Fund:
The ITE Student Endowment Fund (EF) was created to “provide a stable source of funding for the District’s Student Initiatives Program…with the objective of attracting the best and brightest to the transportation profession…” In my opinion, this may be the most important thing we do as a District. The future of the transportation profession depends upon a stable and continuing flow of new professionals who are excited and passionate in the career opportunities afforded by transportation engineering and transportation planning.
The first time I heard about the EF I wondered, “what the heck is that and why would I spend my hard earned money on it?” I have always been a supporter of the EF, but never to a great extent; $10 here, $20 there when at a conference and coerced by Jenny Grote or Cathy Leong to buy and wear an ITE tattoo, all for a good cause and good fun. The last couple of years or so I came to the realization that Zaki Mustafa’s “Together We Are The Best” campaign ties into the EF beautifully. Current professionals, many of whom have benefited greatly by ITE, more now than ever, need to come together to promote Transportation in our colleges and universities and show students how ITE is an integral part of not only being successful. We also need to show them how we need them to help us expand our understanding of how a new generation will utilize transportation in a completely different way than we did, or our parents did; they are our future. It was this realization that prompted me to get excited about contributing more.
I wanted to share my experience as an example of how ITE’s involvement with students can change at least one person’s life. It was through ITE as a student at Cal Poly, Pomona that I not only met two future employers, but realized transportation was something that brought out a passion in me. Not long after joining the student chapter and being elected student chapter president, I was offered an opportunity to work as a student intern at a consulting firm near where I lived. I already had a job with another firm that specialized in water/wastewater resources, but it was not close to school or home and I was offered more pay to go work in transportation. How could I pass that up? It totally changed my life. I worked with a dedicated and passionate group who were involved in the Southern California Section ITE; John Gillespie, Bill Janusz, Rich Deal, Barry Dee, Terry Rodrigue, and most of all Ed Cline. I learned more from these mentors than I could have ever imagined, and much of my career is based on the foundation they helped me lay. Not just the technical skills, the writing skills, and the collaboration skills, but the love of the profession, and the love of ITE as an organization. They encouraged me to go to ITE meetings and conferences. Ed used to even drive me to section meetings to make sure I got there. I, in turn, encouraged my fellow students to do the same. Now, more than 25 years later I am still involved in ITE and it has a lot to do with the experiences from that time.
I believe we are at a pivotal time in our profession; on the cusp of great changes in how we as professionals are re-defining what transportation is and what the purpose of transportation systems are in building better communities. The ITE organization should not be a follower in this change as we have sometimes tended to do, but leading it. If we get left behind, we are doomed as an organization and our boldest and brightest will go elsewhere to form professional and personal networks. Many ITE members across the age and experience range have become leaders in new transportation paradigms; smart growth, autonomous and connected vehicles, Vision Zero, expanding transportation modes, focusing on mobility rather than vehicle throughput, and most recently smarter cities. I am encouraged by this movement and the new International ITE leadership. The Student Endowment Fund provides the opportunity for the Western District to support our future leaders through it’s investment in them. It is in our best interest, and our responsibility as ITE members, to provide our students the best opportunity to succeed and carry on the ITE legacy of leading the transportation profession.
The Student Endowment fund’s goal is to reach $500,000 so that student initiative programs can have a consistent source of funding each year. This funding has already allowed the programs to no longer draw from the Western District’s general fund. The EF is close to that goal with slightly less than $35,000 to go. I encourage everyone to contribute and help be a part of our collective future.