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Student Endowment Fund: July/August

The July/August spotlight was written by Katherine Lee, 2020-2021 President, and Jacob Hamada, 2021-2022 President of the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo ITE Student Chapter.

Cal Poly ITE would like to thank Western District and the Endowment Fund for all their continuous support. During the 2020-2021 academic year, our student chapter has accomplished many unforgettable achievements. There are many events to be highlighted, but we are especially grateful for the following events where we saw our student chapter grow in resilience and integrity. Starting in September 2020, we fully transitioned all our meetings and events to be fully virtual. Although people typically think negatively about the impacts of COVID-19 on student chapters, Cal Poly ITE took advantage of the virtual opportunity to think “outside the box” and try things we have never imagined doing. 

Panel with the Western District on how to get the most out of ITE

The virtual format has brought us many opportunities to connect with other student chapters and professionals, while also being more involved within the organization. In January 2021, our student chapter did a collaboration webinar with NYU ITE and ITE Education Council to share our experience on how to run a successful student chapter. Shortly after, Cal Poly ITE brought the Western District Student Leadership Summit (SLS) back SLOme, which was hosted virtually through Zoom. This would not have happened without the support of the Western District, Endowment Fund, and our sponsors—thank you! 

Soon after our successful Western District SLS, we collaborated with other student leaders from all over the world to organize and host the International SLS in February. Also in February, our student chapter members collected traffic and parking data at Santa Rosa Park, San Luis Obispo, CA, for Western District’s Data Collection Project. In April, Cal Poly ITE hosted our joint SLOcal Transportation Mixer and Alumni Night over Gather.Town where our chapter members had a chance to network with local professionals and alumni. Because of this virtual event, we were able to meet Cal Poly ITE’s first president who started up our student chapter back in 1974!

Cal Poly ITE at International SLS

Cal Poly ITE’s Annual SLOcal Transportation Mixer + Alumni Night

For the upcoming academic year, we look forward to seeing and interacting with our members through our in-person meetings and events. We are especially excited to send students to attend next year’s Western District Annual Meeting in Palm Springs, CA. Cal Poly ITE has seen great value in attending conferences such as SLS and Annual Meetings. They are a great way for our student members to network with other student leaders and professionals, while also increasing their knowledge about the transportation profession. Our student chapter is known to typically bring a large group of students to attend these conferences, which are made possible with the support of the Endowment Fund. We are very thankful for our successes this past year, and we look forward to seeing everyone in person next year!

Contributions to the Endowment Fund can be made here.

Student Endowment Fund: May/June

The May/June spotlight was written by Sophia Tan, President of the UCLA ITE Student Chapter.

UCLA ITE appreciates all the support from the Endowment Fund. Moving to virtual events this year, we’ve been able to continue many of our usual activities and adapt to new changes.

This year, our project team conducted a traffic count survey at Sprouts Farmers market for Western District’s Data Collection. Our team of volunteers was able to learn more about vehicle and person-trip counts. Our data will also be the first data point for person-trips for supermarkets! This was also the first time we got to meet some of our new freshmen project engineers in person. We are so happy to be able to continue teaching students about data collection/analysis and provide growth for aspiring transportation engineers.

We also continued our professional development events online, hosting our 6th Annual Student Professional Mixer on Gatherly. The night began with a fun game of virtual human bingo followed by group networking sessions, our usual Mixer raffle, and finally free networking. We appreciate all the professionals who came out to talk to our students. It was great to meet so many transportation professionals and to catch up with old friends, too!

As the school year comes to a close, we are excited for Western District’s Annual Conference. The endowment fund helps us send so many students to attend every year. We can’t emphasize how important it is for students to learn from technical presentations and network with working professionals. Next year, we hope to continue bringing in new members. In addition, our chapter hopes to send officers to next year’s Student Leadership Summit to meet fellow chapters and share ideas on how to grow as a club.

Contributions to the Endowment Fund can be made here.

Student Endowment Fund: March/April

The March/April spotlight was written by David Hurwitz, Ph.D., FITE, Professor of transportation engineering and Student Chapter Advisor at Oregon State University (OSU).

Reflections on the importance of ITE Student Chapters and the potential impact of Student Chapter Advisors on the future of the Institute

Who am I Professionally?

I am a Professor of transportation engineering, the Eric H.I. and Janice Hoffman Faculty Scholar, and Director of the Driving and Bicycling Simulator Laboratory in the School of Civil and Construction Engineering at Oregon State University (OSU). I also serve as the Associate Director at OSU for the Pacific Northwest Transportation Consortium (PacTrans). I conduct research in the areas of transportation human factors, traffic control, transportation safety, driving & bicycling simulation, and engineering education. In particular, I am interested in the consideration of user behavior in the design and innovation of transportation systems. I teach graduate and undergraduate classes covering topics such as Highway Engineering, Traffic Operations, Isolated Signalized Intersections, and Driving Simulation. I am an active contributor to a variety of professional societies related to transportation engineering, with a particular emphasis on ITE. 

A bit about my History with ITE

My first ITE meeting was at a monthly meeting of the UMass Amherst ITE Student Chapter in 2003. I recall how welcoming the students were, how much folks enjoyed each other’s company, and all the interesting activities the chapter was involved in. It was also my first exposure to graduate students outside of an occasional interaction with a Teaching Assistant. That experience resulted in seven years of active participation in the chapter culminating in a year as President of the chapter which, was the first year UMass Amherst received the Outstanding Chapter of the Year Recognition from ITE International in its 20-year history. 

I was very lucky to have an exceptional mentor in Dr. Michael Knodler when I was a student chapter member at UMass Amherst, and I was committed to passing what I had learned onto a future generation of students. I joined the faculty at OSU in 2009 as an Assistant Professor of transportation engineering and in 2012 I had the opportunity to start serving as the OSU ITE Student Chapter Advisor, a role I continue to serve in. When I started at OSU, I consciously chose to make service to our chapter a significant element of my professional service. 

In 2010 I was appointed as an executive committee member of the ITE Education Council. Presently I am serving my second year as Chair of the council. In collaboration with a group of wonderfully caring transportation educators, we are working hard to provide value to ITE members. Our guiding principle states that “we engage transportation Educators, Practitioners, and students to advance the transportation workforce.” Supporting the development of transportation professionals has always been one of my career goals. As such, the Education Council is strongly aligned with my professional interests.    

Why are Student Chapters of Critical Importance to the Institute?

In my experience as an undergraduate student, graduate student, and faculty member, ITE student chapters have always served as an easy pathway to constructing meaningful relationships with students, faculty, and professionals in the transportation domain. From the perspective of retaining students in higher education, and particularly within STEM, the strongest determinant of retention is the existence of one meaningful relationship.  

They also offer the opportunity to pursue new technical knowledge, to apply knowledge derived from the classroom, and to reinforce theoretical knowledge with actual experience applying engineering practice. All of this leads to a deeper and more robust learning experience for transportation students.  

Educators regularly hear from the industry that there is a need to improve the softer skills of students exiting university degree programs. Those skills can include communication (e.g., written and verbal), teamwork (e.g., independent and collaborative), and an ability to know when and how to ask questions. All of these skills can be developed and refined through active participation in ITE Student Chapter activities. 

Additionally, Student Chapters present an opportunity for students to practice and demonstrate leadership during an early career phase. Students have the opportunity to lead groups of people to accomplish goals that are greater than those possible if pursued individually and which at best occur infrequently. These experiences can help to inform philosophies of leadership and can provide students an early sense of what roles they might be most interested in pursuing as their careers progress. Lastly, these experiences can help to put the next generation of ITE leaders on the radar of decision-makers at the institute.  

Why should Educators and Professionals Consider Serving as Advisors?

ITE Student Chapters provide a low-risk environment for students to engage in transportation in such a way that promotes the recruitment and retention of the best and the brightest students to the transportation domain. The advisor can serve as an effective pathway to connecting interested students with a robust platform of extracurricular experiences. 

Never be concerned with starting a new chapter or taking over an existing chapter. There are professors all over the country who want nothing more than to see an excellent chapter at every university with a transportation curriculum. The only performance goal that should matter is the pursuit of positive incremental improvement year after year. Great chapters take years of an intentional effort to develop, but the reward of a well-functioning Student Chapter is the immense value proposition it presents to student members. 

It is essential that university faculty participate in an advisory role for these chapters to provide students with seamless access to university resources and to leverage our collective professional networks for the benefit of our students. With these ideas in mind, you too can make an exceptional impact on the next generation of transportation professionals and ITE Members. 

Please join me in supporting our students whether making a contribution to the Student Endowment Fund or volunteering your time. Contributions to the Endowment Fund can be made at https://westernite.org/endowment-fund/endowment-fund-contribute/


Student Endowment Fund: January/February

The January-February spotlight was written by Kimberly Leung, former Student Funding and Initiatives Committee (SFIC) Chair and one of our newest Visionary level contributors to the Endowment Fund.

After being elected to the Western District Board, I was asked by our new SFIC Chair Ashley Kim if I wanted to take some time to reflect and share my thoughts on the Endowment Fund. In the seven years that I served as the Student Endowment Fund Chair, which later became the SFIC Chair, I’ve spoken with countless students about the impact that ITE has had on me. Now, I’m grateful for this opportunity to share with a wider audience about the immense value of supporting our students.

I attended my first District Annual Meeting in 2009 with the UC Berkeley Cal ITE student chapter. Using the funding we received for hosting that year’s Kell Competition, we were able to send our small officer board of four students to Denver for our first Annual Meeting. The following year, Cal ITE was awarded one of the five Data Collection Fund projects and was able to provide financial support for a large contingent of students to attend the District Annual Meeting just across the Bay in San Francisco. As a student, I was not only excited to be able to attend these conferences without worrying about my expenses but also intrigued by something very unique about the District Annual Meetings that encouraged me to continue attending each year – the programs dedicated specifically to students. It was only when I was appointed as the Student Endowment Fund Chair in 2013 that I realized that the Kell Competition and Data Collection Fund were just a few of the many Student Initiatives funded by the District’s Endowment Fund.

Some of my early memories as a student at District Annual Meetings include people like our International Past President Randy McCourt and Western District International Directors Cathy Leong and Mark Spencer. In Denver, I met Randy, who put me to work immediately. He handed me a roll of stickers to promote the upcoming District Annual Meetings and sent me around the vendor hall to put them onto everyone’s badges. Little did I know that such a minor experience was one of the first steps in developing soft skills, like networking, that would help me later in my career and ITE. Mark likes to remind me that when he first met me, I was this ball of energy that was just overly excited about everything in ITE, and I like to still think I am. When he chaired the 2010 San Francisco meeting, Mark had me help with coordinating student volunteers. At the time, I was still a student but boldly told him that I would one day chair my own meeting, which I did in 2019. I remember Cathy as the one who was promoting the Endowment Fund in the vendor hall, and I left Denver with a temporary ITE tattoo on my arm, wanting to do more with the organization. When I saw Cathy at meetings in the following years, I shared that with her, and she definitely heard me. When she was elected to the District Board, she recommended me to take over as the Student Endowment Fund Chair, allowing me to do so much more with our students than I ever imagined that I could.

I’ve been asked so many times the reasons I spend my time on ITE, and it’s simply the people and the students. Even as a student attending her first District Annual Meeting, I was immediately able to see that the District, but more specifically its members, was willing to invest in me and all of its students. I directly received the financial benefits of the Endowment Fund when I first joined ITE, even though I didn’t recognize it at the time. Even more importantly, many ITE professionals genuinely wanted to support, mentor, and build relationships with the students. There are not only funding and award opportunities specifically for students each year, but also an entire technical track scheduled in the District Annual Meetings with sessions for students. Our Career Guidance Chair, along with many of the District’s professionals, serves to help with resume reviews, speed interviews, panel discussions, and more. There’s even a core group of us who subject ourselves to performing in silly, over-the-top, yet educational skits at every meeting. Having been involved with these sessions year after year, I have been able to see many students attending our meetings as part of a student chapter, and it makes me so proud when they graduate and join for meetings not only as working professionals but also ones who volunteer their time to give back to ITE students.

In my last year as the SFIC Chair, my committee included Kayla Fleskes from Oregon ITE, Ashley Kim from SF Bay ITE, and Brandon Wong from Riverside-San Bernardino ITE. They were all student chapter Presidents at one point, and many of them were also part of planning committees for Student Leadership Summits hosted by their schools. I encourage you to ask these three young professionals about their transition from student to working professional and their reasons for continuing to volunteer their time with ITE at the Section and District levels. I’m confident that they will reflect fondly on their time as student members at our District Annual Meetings. Now that I think about it, it was almost six years ago that I went to San Luis Obispo to give a presentation to Cal Poly ITE about my work at the SFMTA. On that very same day, Ashley, who was a student at the time, messaged me to thank me for speaking to their student chapter. Since then, Ashley joined my SFIC committee, became my co-worker at the SFMTA, and is now the new SFIC Chair. It’s amazing how it all comes full circle.

During my time as the Student Endowment Fund Chair, I celebrated with all of our District members as we worked collectively to finally reach the $500K milestone for the Endowment Fund in 2016. This achievement secured a stable funding source, opening up more possibilities for how we wanted to support our students. From sponsorships for the Student Leadership Summit to Regional Travel Scholarships for the Annual Meeting and everything in between, the District’s Student Initiatives continually evolve. What firmly remains the same, though, is the Western District’s deep commitment to the students. This dedication to the next generation of young professionals is by far one of the most defining values of our District, and it is also what drives me to do the work that I do within ITE. Please join me in supporting our students whether making a contribution to the Student Endowment Fund or volunteering your time. Contributions to the Endowment Fund can be made at https://westernite.org/endowment-fund/endowment-fund-contribute/

Student Endowment Fund: September/October

Jenny and Wulf receiving Contributor Recognition for contributions to the Student Endowment Fund. Presented at the 2018 Annual Meeting in Keystone, Colorado.

For the September/October spotlight, Jenny Grote, PE, PTOE, PTP shares her thoughts on the Student Endowment Fund. Jenny is a past International President and a recipient of the ITE Burton W. Marsh Award. Jenny is the Principal of GroTrans Engineering, LLC and a Visionary contributor of the Student Endowment Fund.

Happy Fall Y’all! I am amazed at all the changes that have taken place in 2020. Before the pandemic, I would not have considered participating in a virtual video conference, attending a virtual Annual Meeting, or virtual Student Traffic Bowl. ITE did an amazing job taking an in-person program, both at the District and International levels, and converting them to a virtual format. One giant, and positive, step for mankind!

During my 34 years in ITE leadership positions, visiting 30+ student chapters, I have seen many current leaders ‘grow up’ in ITE; from knowing them as student members/leaders, then as peers, and now risen to high-level leadership positions. One of these ‘rising stars’ (before there was an official ‘Rising Star’ award) was the current International Vice-President Alyssa Reynolds Rodriguez. I met Alyssa in the late 1990s when she was the Student Chapter President at Montana State University.

Upon graduation, Alyssa was hired by Rich Romer (2006 International President) for the Las Vegas office of Orth-Rodgers. When Alyssa was District President in 2012, Rich passed from this earth, but Alyssa saw to it that his legacy as a supporter of students lived on by naming the Endowment Fund after Rich. He would have been so proud to see the next generation of enthusiastic, energetic, motivated, dedicated students in transportation and to see them have successful careers in transportation. With the help of the Endowment Fund, and past and future leaders like Alyssa, we have an even more exciting future ahead!

A little Endowment Fund history

Student Endowment Fund Committee – 2008

In 2005, fifteen years ago, the Endowment Fund was initiated by then-District President Zaki Mustafa (who became International President in 2013). He appointed Pat Gibson as the first Administrator of the fund. Pat built upon the endowment fund idea from Montana State University and brought it to the District level. This Fund was established as a source for student members to attend District annual meetings, TRB conferences, and the extremely successful Student Leadership Summit. Other objectives were to expand the student awards program and various student initiatives.

After Pat completed his term, Cathy Leong, current International Director representing the Western District, was appointed as Chair in 2007, and I served on her Committee along with Michael Sanderson (2012 International President), Julie Townsend, and Jennifer Rosales (both Past International Directors). We met twice a year at the District Board meetings, to brainstorm ideas on how to promote contributions to the Endowment Fund and how to promote student involvement.

Now, Cathy is serving as an International Director and Kimberly Leung chaired the Endowment Fund Committee (now the Student Funding and Initiatives Committee) until she was elected Secretary-Treasurer of the Western District in June. Taking on the task of Committee Chair, after Kimberly, is Ashley Kim, a young professional and true ‘rising star’ who graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo; another ‘difference maker’ in our profession!

Student Leadership Summit (SLS)

The Student Leadership Summits bring together students in transportation programs to develop their leadership abilities, improve their career skill sets, and create connections with fellow students, faculty, and professionals. Planned events include presentations, technical tours, speed interviews, and resume reviews. They are a fantastic opportunity to meet new people, get your name out, and learn about developments in the transportation industry. The location of the Summit varies each year and is passed from university to university in the Western District, and now at universities around the world. Summits offer the chance for leaders from the transportation industry to share their expertise on how to be a successful leader and develop a successful career.

The Endowment Fund has been instrumental in providing students the ability to attend SLS’s and help them transition from being a student member into a productive, motivated young professional in the transportation profession.

In the Western District, the 8th Annual SLS will be ‘coming back SLOme’ on January 15-17, 2021. The Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Student chapter will be hosting the SLS.

2014 SLS hosted by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo


2015 SLS hosted by Sacramento State

Student Traffic Bowl

2015 International Collegiate Traffic Bowl 1st Place Champions – Cal Poly, SLO

The objectives of the Student Traffic Bowl are to:

  • Encourage students to become more active members in the Institute;
  • Enhance their knowledge of the transportation profession;
  • Gain knowledge of the Institute itself;
  • Strengthen the programs of the ITE student chapters, and most of all;
  • Have fun and network with fellow students.

The winning team of the Western District Student Traffic Bowl goes on to compete in the Grand Championship ITE Collegiate Traffic Bowl at the International level. The Endowment Fund also provides funding for these events.

Reception for students during TRB week (pending)

Student Reception at ITE Headquarters @ TRB 2002

Students are invited to ITE’s Open House Reception for Students at ITE Headquarters in Washington, DC. This event is a great opportunity to meet ITE’s awesome Executive Director, Jeffrey Paniati, along with other amazing ITE staff members. Learn more about ITE from those in leadership positions, meet other students, and find out how we can help you succeed in launching a dynamic career. ITE encourages student members and non-members to attend – an interest in transportation is all that is required. Feel free to wear your school colors (like I did back in 2002….Go Buffs!).



Jenny’s next chapters…

The Arizona Section presented a plaque for an annual Jenny L. Grote Scholarship Award

At the ITE Arizona Section Holiday gathering in December of 2015, the members surprised me with a plaque acknowledging my support of students, young professionals, and my many years in offices at all levels of ITE. Each year, the Section has since awarded a $1,000 scholarship in my name to an ungraduated or graduate student in transportation at an Arizona university.

2016 was the first year since 1987 that I was not on an ITE Board at some level; the same year I also retired from my 31-year career with the City of Phoenix, Street Transportation Department. Just like the inevitable process of replacing me at the City, I was replaced as a leader in the Western District.

Then in 2019, I was asked to continue my service to ITE as the District Administrator of the newly formed Mountain District; a position I held in the Western District for eight years. Of course, I said ‘yes’ once again, and I was appointed on January 1, 2020. I also serve as the Board liaison to the new Student and Young Member Committee, so I can continue helping to attract new members and leaders to our organization. The December issue of the ITE Journal will have more details of the Mountain District and my role as District Administrator.

In the October issue of the ITE Journal, check out page 42 where I wrote an article as the recipient of the 2020 BURTON W. MARSH DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD for my contributions to ITE over many years. I wrote about the challenge of “Balance to Achieve Harmony.” It’s all about balancing ITE-Work-Life to achieve Harmony. I still wish I had the right formula, but I try, with the help of lots of other dedicated members and my family.

Looking back to my mid-career days, here is my advice to younger members:

  • Do not worry about “balancing” ITE-WORK-LIFE, just put one foot in front of the other and “Enjoy the Journey” TODAY! Do not wait till you retire to make up for lost time, like me. Make memories together NOW at whatever level. These just might be the “good ‘ol days!”
  • It is not about the amount of time but the special, quality times you create.
  • Instead of going in a straight line to the end of your journey, zigzag through life and enjoy the diversions, surprises, and detours.
  • Life is all about what we make of it. I cannot wait to see what is next!

I have seen lots of changes in ITE, but one thing never changes; the camaraderie and progress we are making at a rapid pace with our colleagues around the globe. My advice for future generations…keep up the good work that many of us old-timers dedicated our careers and volunteer time to. Someday, I will gladly step aside and let the next generation take the reins but be sure to balance your professional life with your personal life and… Enjoy the Journey!

Taken at our Grote Family Reunion in Estes Park, Colorado in 2019. With my husband, Wulf, son-in-law Frederik (28), daughter Krista (29), and daughter Kayla (25). As of 2021, Denver, Colorado will be our new home – coming back full circle to where we lived 35 years ago, and be close to my Alma Mater, the University of Colorado!

Please consider a contribution to the Student Endowment Fund. Those funds help support our student members participate in the exciting opportunities that are planned in 2021 and beyond!

Student Endowment Fund: July/August

For the July/August spotlight, Student Funding and Initiatives Committee (SFIC) member Ashley Kim shares how the Joint Western and Mountain Districts Virtual Annual Meeting hosted student events in the virtual format.

During pre-COVID times, the Western District would typically host in-person events for students at the Annual Meetings such as the Kell Competition, Student Traffic Bowl, Student/Faculty Leadership Forum, resume reviews, and Career Guidance Q&A.

With the decision in May to convert the meeting to virtual, the SFIC had two months to turn our in-person student events into a virtual format. The committee began meeting weekly to plan, test Zoom functionalities, and coordinate tasks to run the events. The committee ran through scenarios on Zoom to address possible technical difficulties. Each committee member oversaw the virtual logistics of a student event.

Typically, the Kell Competition is held on Sunday afternoon of the conference and is hosted by the Student Chapter whose proposal was selected for the event. Due to the virtual format, the SFIC decided to plan and host the Kell Competition for all student participants to compete. Designed and led by Brandon Wong from the Riverside-San Bernardino Section, the students were given virtual allowances for food and transportation and sent to explore the island of Oahu virtually. The student teams prepared fun PowerPoint presentations to share their day’s adventures, eats, and beautiful sightseeing in Oahu. There were 12 student teams from the Western and Mountain Districts. Judges Cathy Leong, Mark Spencer, and Neelam Dorman scored each team, and two BYU teams won first and second place. A Cal Poly San Luis Obispo team and Oregon Tech team tied for third place.

Team BYU2 – First Place

Team BYU1 – 2nd Place

Team CPSLO1 – 3rd Place (Tie)

Team OIT – 3rd Place (Tie)

The SFIC also planned resume reviews and a Career Panel. Coordinated by Kayla Fleskes from the Oregon Section, students were invited to submit their resumes before the conference to be reviewed by three ITE working professionals. Students received their resume reviews by the beginning of the conference. 30 working professionals reviewed 18 student resumes and provided feedback.

Session 4B Student Faculty Leadership forum was coordinated by Kimberly Leung from the San Francisco Bay Area Section and led by Dr. David Hurwitz from Oregon State University and Dr. Grant Schultz from Brigham Young University. The attendees discussed topics such as the impacts of COVID-19 restrictions on ITE student activities, fundraising, recruitment, collaboration, and elections. After the session, Dr. Hurwitz and Dr. Schultz wrote a white paper summarizing the results from the session. A recording of Session 4B can be viewed here.

For the Session 7B – Career Guidance Q&A, Kayla Fleskes served as moderator, and Joshua McNeill, Alicia Yang, and Jenny Grote shared their career insights and experiences with the student attendees. The panelists shared their ITE Annual Meeting memories, what they would have done with their fun time in Hawaii, reflected on their transition from student to working professional, and discussed the impacts of the pandemic. A recording of Session 7B can be viewed here.

Career Guidance Panel

The Traffic Bowl was converted to a virtual format on Zoom. Led by Ashley Kim from the San Francisco Bay Area Section, the SFIC practiced the details of sharing the gameboard with the attendees, muting audience members, and determining the fine details of the virtual setup on Zoom. For the prequalification round on Sunday, 11 student teams from the Western District and the Mountain District completed the prequalification quizzes on Google Forms. The top three scores from each district advanced to the virtual Jeopardy game hosted by each District.

Immediately after the prequalification round results were sent, the committee led the qualifying Western District teams through a tutorial on how the virtual format would work. Students were instructed to keep themselves on mute unless they were answering a question, utilize the Zoom chat box as a buzzer, and hold a non-Zoom conference call during the game to deliberate with their teammates. The Oregon State University team won first place, and Cal Poly SLO and UCLA tied for 2nd place after a triple tiebreaker. The virtual Jeopardy worked well for the first time, and the committee is passing the knowledge to the International Traffic Bowl committee and providing the logistical details for the virtual International Traffic Bowl taking place in fall 2020.

1st Virtual Western District Traffic Bowl

In total, there were 90 student attendees, representing 26 student chapters from the Western and Mountain Districts, at the virtual meeting. The virtual student events would not have been possible without Kimberly Leung leading the charge by coordinating with the SFIC committee and the LAC and practicing on Zoom as a host to become well-versed with the program. The committee hasn’t seen each other in person in over a year, but we were able to come together within a month’s notice and put together a successful student program all on Zoom. Thank you to the committee members, volunteers, contributors, and students who make these events successful. We hope you all have a safe and healthy summer, and see you next year at the Joint ITE International, Mountain, and Western District Annual Meeting and Exhibition in Portland, OR!

Contributions to the Endowment Fund can be made at westernite.org/endowment-fund/endowment-fund-contribute/


Student Endowment Fund: May/June

For the May/June spotlight, we invited our ITE Student Chapters to share what they have been doing during this new normal of online coursework and off-campus life. The following Chapters shared how they are keeping their members connected.


ITE at UCLA has switched quickly to online webinars and workshops via Zoom! We have weekly trivia socials using Kahoot to stay connected, and we still have our weekly meetings on Zoom as well.

-Joceline Suhaimi, Chapter President


Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Cal Poly ITE is springing ahead. We quickly adjusted our plans for the rest of the school year to go virtual. To keep our members up to date, we created a Slack with various channels such as transportation news, announcements, etc. Every week we have some sort of event. We continue to have general meetings with companies and professors in order to keep in touch with the transportation industry. When we don’t have general meetings planned, we open our officer meetings to all members to give them an opportunity to understand the internal functions of our chapter. Lastly, we have planned fun online socials to keep connected!

-Kezia Suwandhaputra, Chapter President


UC Berkeley

Due to the change to virtual instruction, Cal ITE has wrapped up this academic year slightly differently than usual. Usually, Cal ITE and the Cal Transportation Team cohost a banquet in order to celebrate the year’s events together. However, this year, the team focused on virtually designing t-shirts and stickers together! Through the input from all the students, we were able to design a shirt that everyone will be proud to wear and a sticker to decorate our Hydroflasks to proudly rep Cal ITE.   In addition, the Fehr and Peers team was very accommodating and hosted a virtual presentation and Q&A to introduce students to various ongoing projects. Through this event, students were able to continue to connect with one another and with industry professionals. Although these are interesting times — to say the least, Cal ITE is proud to have finished the semester strong. In the upcoming months, we hope to host virtual FE studying sessions, among other events!

One of the last events our chapter was able to host was game night! See above for the photo of us all together, circa pre-6ft-apart times.

-Amy Huang, Chapter President


Oregon State University

Oregon State University’s ITE student chapter has been trying to maintain as “normal” of a spring term schedule as possible. We held our spring term General Meeting this past Tuesday, an informational meeting to generate interest for this term’s events, get feedback as to what fall term events our members want, and introduce our newly-elected officers for 2020-2021. Because we usually provide food at in-person meetings, we did a drawing for food-related gift cards. In the upcoming weeks, we are really excited for:

  • A virtual presentation from a project manager at the Portland Bureau of Transportation, who will speak about their career and how “a normal day” has changed for them during this pandemic;
  • An hour-long Introduction to Synchro webinar;
  • A virtual civil engineering-themed trivia event, hosted jointly with our ASCE student chapter;
  • Launching a mentoring program to connect our juniors/seniors with professionals.
  • A bi-weekly transportation discussion group focused on engaging our graduate student members (interested undergraduate students are welcome, too). We meet for an hour (virtually) every two weeks to talk about transportation topics, the projects we’re working on, ask questions and get feedback, and just generally connect with each other. Under “normal” circumstances, we’d be split across different graduate offices, so I think this discussion group is really helping bring us together as a more cohesive graduate group–more so than before COVID started!

To get the word out about our events this term, we contacted professors currently teaching transportation classes to ask them to share our upcoming events with their students. Many already had assignments to attend a professional development event virtually this term, so our chapter events fit in well with their course requirements. We are also advertising events in both our department and ITE weekly messages. Our newly-elected officers, who took over this term from a fantastic group of outgoing officers, have been superstars in making ITE at OSU happen despite the pandemic!

-Amy Wyman, Chapter President

Contributions to the Endowment Fund can be made at westernite.org/endowment-fund/endowment-fund-contribute/

Student Endowment Fund: March/April

For the March/April spotlight, Gonzaga University student chapter president Madelyn Cayton reflects on the inaugural year of the Gonzaga University Student Chapter.

Gonzaga University has had an ITE student chapter for several years but it wasn’t until Fall 2019 that it became an established club on campus. A few students who were interested in transportation engineering decided to contact Dr. Rhonda Young, our transportation engineering professor, and with her help, we were able to bring fresh energy to the student chapter.

Since then, we have focused our efforts primarily on community service and professional development. Last fall our student chapter worked with the City of Spokane to create a popup temporary cycle track near campus. We hope to work closely with the City in upcoming transit and multi-modal focused projects in the years to come. We have also been organizing a bike drive to collect bicycles from the community, which will then be refurbished and donated to children in Northeast Spokane. This is part of a campus-wide initiative for the Gonzaga to better serve Northeast Spokane, which is an area of the city that historically has faced significant economic challenges.

In addition to our community service focus, we have made sure to provide our members with plenty of opportunities to network and learn about careers in the transportation industry. This spring we hosted an ITE Washington Industry night which brought together several employers and three ITE Student Chapters to connect and learn about developing a career in transportation engineering. Our members are regular attendees of seminars hosted by Women’s Transportation Seminar, American Society of Civil Engineers, and the Gonzaga University Civil Engineering faculty on campus. These events allow our members to get an idea of what a career in the transportation field looks like while seeking out professional opportunities.

Along with supporting our community and fostering professional development, another important part of our student chapter is to allow students to learn more about the transportation industry. This is where the Endowment Fund has been the most beneficial to us. This summer, we hope to send members to the Western ITE Annual Conference, providing us with the opportunity to network with professionals in the transportation industry and other student chapters. Our goal for next year is to send our officer team to the Western ITE Leadership Summit to learn more about how we can continue to grow our student chapter and develop engaging activities for our members.

Contributions to the Endowment Fund can be made at westernite.org/endowment-fund/endowment-fund-contribute/

Student Endowment Fund: January/February

For the January-February spotlight, USC ITE students Joan Lee, Allison Fischer, and Lei Lily Tam reflect on the ITE Student Leadership Summit, which they planned and hosted with the UCLA chapter. The Student Leadership Summit is one of many initiatives supported by the Student Endowment Fund.

Planning and executing a three-day conference with 200 attendees is no easy task. UCLA and USC’s ITE student chapters spent about a year planning the 7th Annual Western/Mountain District Student Leadership Summit, which took place from January 31 to February 2, 2020. 

A year before the Summit, our chapters started by creating a budget, which we adjusted many times before the actual event. Next, we worked on finding sponsors and venues for the Summit. Soon enough, we were developing a preliminary schedule of events and deciding what materials we would need to make each event happen. As the date approached, we developed the website, sign-up form, and coordinated volunteers. One week before the Summit, we were filling 200 Metro souvenir bags with “swag” donated by various companies, and we reflected and saw how far we had come. 

Thanks to our ITE student chapter presidents, Joceline Suhaimi (UCLA) and Lei Lily Tam (USC), we proudly planned and hosted a very successful Summit. With guidance from our chapter advisors, Walter Okitsu and Eric Shen, we overcame the challenges we encountered and formulated the message we wanted to send to our SLS attendees. 

Planning the Summit allowed us to gain valuable leadership experience and see what it is like to manage a long-term project. As USC students, we enjoyed working closely with UCLA ITE members, despite the existing rivalry between the universities. We appreciate the opportunities to take on new and familiar tasks. It was extremely rewarding to see the event come together after all our hard work. 

As for the conference itself, the speed interviews and career fair portions were useful for the students to build their connections and network. Also, meeting and bonding with students from the Western District ITE schools and Montana State University was a rare, amazing opportunity. We learned how other schools ran their chapters and what kind of events they held, gaining inspiration to apply to our own chapters. Also getting the opportunity to hear from transportation legends Donald Shoup and Genevieve Guiliano was extremely valuable as it displayed how great ITE’s reach is. We would like to continue branching out and expanding membership to anyone who is passionate about transportation, particularly outside of the civil engineering major.  

We would like to continue the conference to build the students’ professional skills, as well as allow other ITE chapters to meet and collaborate with one another. Meeting others who are passionate about transportation is inspiring and motivating, making the conference especially valuable. Through this reunion of transportation students, we can continue to learn how to improve from each other.

“Although I am not a civil engineer or a planner, my interest lies in data and being the bridge between business and technology – skills that can be applied to any industry, especially one like transportation where there’s an insane amount of data collected everyday! My M.S. Choice, came from this as supply chain is literally connected by transportation systems. This joint effort to host SLS with UCLA was truly a unique experience, seeing two rival universities come together to celebrate the same passion.”

– Lei Lily Tam
4th Year Undergraduate – Industrial & Systems Engineering
1st year Master’s student – Global Supply Chain Management

Contributions to the Endowment Fund can be made at westernite.org/endowment-fund/endowment-fund-contribute/

Student Endowment Fund: November/ December

For the November-December spotlight, Student Funding and Initiatives Committee Chair Kimberly Leung will be sharing updates to the District’s Student Initiatives, including new awards and funding allocations, beginning in 2020.

The Student Funding and Initiatives Committee (SFIC) is tasked with promoting the advancement of the transportation planning and engineering profession by fostering the close association of professionals with civil and transportation planning and engineering students. Student members are valuable assets and the future leaders of the Institute. The SFIC is also charged with overseeing and managing the Student Endowment Fund, which establishes a self-sustaining funding source for the District’s Student Initiatives.


Student Initiatives

In 2020, with the creation of the New Mountain District from a portion of the existing Western District, the Student Endowment Fund was distributed equitably based on the proportion of student membership located within each District, with 73% in the Western District and 27% in the Mountain District.

To reflect the redistribution of student chapters, the funding for the Western District’s various Student Initiatives was also adjusted with changes that included:

  • Reducing the number of data collection projects from six to four.
  • Eliminating the $100/report award for student chapter annual reports.
  • Establishing more detailed submittal requirements, including evaluation criteria and page limits, for the Student Chapter Award.
  • Establishing the Student Chapter Momentum Award to recognize a student chapter that has experienced the greatest momentum or most improvement in the past year.
  • Reallocating $1,000 previously used to provide travel support for the Student Chapter Award winner to attend the ITE International Meeting if they were also the winner at the International competition to the Student Chapter Momentum Award winner at the District level.
  • Eliminating the $300 cash prize for the Kell competition.
  • Reducing the number of Student Regional Travel Scholarships from four to two.


Each year, over $12,000, paid from the Endowment Fund, is spent on Student Initiatives, which now includes:

  • Funding for the Data Collection Fund ($1,000/project for 4 projects)
  • Awards for the Student Chapter and Student Chapter Momentum winners at the Western District Annual Meeting ($1,000/award for 2 awards)
  • Funding for the James H. Kell competition held at the Western District Annual Meeting ($1,500)
  • Awards for the Student Paper, Outstanding Graduate Student, and Outstanding Undergraduate Student winners at the Western District Annual Meeting ($500/award for 3 awards)
  • Student Regional Travel Scholarships to attend the Western District Annual Meeting ($500/student for 2 students)
  • Support for the Student Leadership Summit ($1,000)
  • Travel support for the winning Student Traffic Bowl team to the ITE International Meeting ($1,000)
  • Sponsoring special events for students and professionals ($250)


Student Chapter Awards

The complete list of award and funding opportunities for student chapters, including award guidelines and deadlines, is available here.

Data Collection Fund

In 2004, the ITE Western District created a Data Collection Fund to encourage student chapter involvement with the profession. This program is specifically aimed at creating interest in transportation through practical activities and mentoring. The District awards up to $4,000 annually for the Data Collection Fund, typically distributed in $1,000 increments.

Beginning in 2019, the number of data collection projects was reduced from six to four.

James H. Kell Award

The James H. Kell Student Competition Award intends to give student members attending the District Annual Meeting an opportunity to apply transportation and traffic engineering classroom knowledge to a real-world problem. The competition also gives students the chance to meet and interact with students from other schools. The District issues a request for proposals (RFP) inviting ITE student chapters to design and run the student competition at the Annual Meeting. The winning student chapter is awarded up to $1,500 to cover material costs and travel expenses of students and their faculty advisor to attend the Annual Meeting.

Beginning in 2020, the $300 cash prize for the Kell competition was eliminated.

Outstanding Student Award

The Outstanding Student Awards recognizes both an undergraduate and graduate student who has shown exceptional dedication to the transportation profession, extraordinary enthusiasm for ITE, and unwavering professionalism in transportation research or an intern position. The District recognizes one undergraduate student and one graduate student each year. The winners receives plaques, a $500 award, as well as free registrations for the Western District Annual Meeting.

Outstanding Transportation Educator Award

The Outstanding Transportation Educator Award recognizes an educator who has shown extraordinary creativity in teaching, taken exceptional measures to spark student interest in the transportation profession, provided unwavering encouragement for student endeavors, or shown unequaled service to ITE.

Student Chapter Annual Meeting Award

The Student Chapter Annual Meeting Award encourages student participation in Annual Meeting events. The award is given to the student chapter who has the highest participation and performance at the Annual Meeting. Points are awarded for general attendance, participation in student events, and volunteering throughout the conference. The winning student chapter receives the Western District Student Chapter Annual Meeting traveling trophy.

Student Chapter Award

The Student Chapter Award is designed to encourage ITE student chapters to participate in activities that are in alignment with the purpose and objectives of ITE. Additionally, student chapters should strive to show diversity and inclusiveness practices throughout their various activities. The winner student chapter receives a plaque and $1,000 for travel to attend the Western District Annual Meeting. The District will submit the winning report for consideration in the ITE International competition.

Beginning in 2020, the $100/report award for student chapter annual reports was eliminated. The $1,000 previously used to provide travel support for the Student Chapter Award winner to attend the ITE International Meeting if they were also the winner at the International competition was reallocated to the new Student Chapter Momentum Award. Additionally, more detailed submittal requirements, including evaluation criteria and page limits, have also been established and are included in the award guidelines.

Student Chapter Momentum Award

The Student Chapter Momentum Award recognizes the student chapter that has experienced the greatest momentum (or most improvement) in the past year. Submissions can address (but is not limited to) activity in any of the following areas: Chapter Administration, Application of Technical Knowledge, Networking Events, K-12 STEM Outreach, New Member Recruitment, Diversity and Inclusion, Training/Professional Development, Field Trips/Technical Tours, Service Projects, and Leadership Development. The winning student chapter receives a plaque and $1,000 for travel to attend the Western District Annual Meeting. The District will submit the winning report for consideration in the ITE International competition.

This new award was established in 2020 and includes a $1,000 prize. This $1,000 was reallocated from travel support for the Student Chapter Award winner to attend the ITE International Meeting if they were also the winner at the International competition to the Student Chapter Momentum Award winner at the District level.

Student Paper Award

The Student Paper Award encourages student members of the Western District to conduct and to report on independent research and investigation of transportation engineering subjects and to provide a means for recognizing outstanding accomplishments in this area. The winner receives a plaque, a $500 award, as well as free meeting registration for the Western District Annual Meeting. The District will submit the winning paper on to ITE International for consideration in the Daniel B. Fambro Student Paper Award competition.

Student Regional Travel Scholarship

The Student Regional Travel Scholarships provide financial support for up to two (2) students to attend the upcoming ITE Western District Annual Meeting. The District will select one student from each region (Region 1 and Region 2). The recipient from each region receives a $500 travel scholarship. Please see the scholarship application to determine your school’s region.

Beginning in 2020, the number of Student Regional Travel Scholarship was reduced from four to two.

Student Traffic Bowl

The Western District hosts a Student Traffic Bowl at the Annual Meeting. All teams are required to attend the Pre-Qualification round on Monday of the Annual Meeting. The winner student chapter receives the Western District Student Traffic Bowl traveling trophy, a certificate, and $1,000 in travel funds from the District to attend the International ITE Annual Meeting to compete in the Collegiate Traffic Bowl Grand Championship.

Thank you to the Western District and its members for your continued support of the development of students in our profession. Contributions to the Endowment Fund can be made at westernite.org/endowment-fund/endowment-fund-contribute/

For questions regarding the District’s student initiatives and chapter awards, please contact SFIC Chair Kimberly Leung at kimberly.leung@sfmta.com.