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Student Endowment Fund: May/June

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.

2nd Annual Student Leadership Summit at Sacramento State University

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.

2016 Western District Annual Meeting in Albuquerque

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.

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo ITE Student Chapter

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/

Student Endowment Fund: March/April

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:

  1. The General Fund, which includes all of the Student Initiatives supported by the Endowment Fund, or
  2. 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/


Student Endowment Fund: January/February

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.

2017 Western District ITE Student Leadership Summit


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.

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

Student Endowment Fund: November/December

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:

WEB-cathy_leong--2(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.

dsc_0235 dsc_3428 old-boardies

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.

MarkSpencer.jpg(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!

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

Richard T. Romer Student Endowment Fund Reaches $500k


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.

Student Endowment Fund: September/October

IMG_8007The 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!

Traffic BowlSLSITE 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!

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

Student Endowment Fund: July/August

Tom MericleThe 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.

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

Student Endowment Fund: May/June

Earlier this Spring, Western District President Cathy Leong launched the “Close the Gap” campaign to reach our ultimate fundraising goal of $500,000 by this summer! Nearly $10,000 has already been raised through the campaign through the support of our leaders and members at the District, Section, and Chapter levels. Many Presidents, including those in the southern part of California, have kicked off fundraising campaigns of their own at the Section levels to help the District reach our goal.

The May-June Spotlight is a collaborative effort among three ITE Section Presidents: Giancarlo Ganddini (Southern California), Ryan Zellers (San Diego), and Gianfranco Laurie (Riverside-San Bernardino). These three Sections have not only teamed together to make a contribution to the Endowment Fund this year but have also historically supported students through individual contributions to the Endowment Fund and direct support of the many universities within their Sections. The following are their thoughts on the Student Endowment Fund:

On March 11th, the Southern California, San Diego, and Riverside-San Bernardino ITE Sections held a joint workshop at the El Adobe Restaurant in San Juan Capistrano. The half-day event was casual and energetic, with morning workshop topics that included an overview of planning and implementation of Mobility Hubs in San Diego and Los Angeles, Using Big Data for Traffic Analysis, and Connected Vehicles. Our lunchtime keynote speaker was Marty Wachs of UCLA, there to discuss the California Road Charge Pilot Program and current research in reforming of the outdated gas tax. The meeting was one of the more successful joint meetings we have had, attended by 111 people spanning the region. This year we were also able to get several sponsorships for the event, which allowed us to cover expenses more easily and actually have money left over. As part of an ongoing effort to support future transportation professional, officers from the three sections agreed to contribute the proceeds of $1,893.48 to the Western District’s Student Endowment Fund.


May 2015 Student Presentation Night

We can proudly say that this is not the first contribution to Student Initiatives made on behalf of the local Sections.

With the recent “Close the Gap” campaign, ITE Southern California has challenged its members to help reach the Platinum contribution level. By leveraging its large number of members, ITE Southern California hopes that a small contribution of $10 from each member will make a cumulative impact. Additionally, ITE Southern California has been teaming up with the Orange County Traffic Engineering Council to host a Student Chapter Presentation Night. The event attracts over 100 guests including students from seven local Universities and professionals. Each presentation is judged by a panel of professional members and the Universities are awarded scholarships that can be used to fund Student Chapter activities and students’ registration and travel expenses for Western District Annual Meetings. Over $10,000 has been awarded at each Student Chapter Presentation Night for the past several years.

ITE Riverside-San Bernardino also hosts a Student Presentation meeting with presentations from Cal Poly Pomona, UCLA, and CSU Long Beach. In 2015, ITE Riverside-San Bernardino donated over $3,000 in scholarships directly to local Cal Poly Pomona students and hosted a Student-Professional Social. The Riverside-San Bernardino Section is also proud to be recognized as an Emerald Group Contributor to the ITE Western District Student Endowment Fund.

ITE San Diego has helped support the San Diego State University ITE Student Chapter since its reintroduction in 2007. Each year, ITE San Diego offers multiple $500 scholarships to individual students pursuing a transportation engineering curriculum.

We hope that our recent contributions will expand our reach and help ITE’s student initiatives at the regional level.

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

Student Endowment Fund: March/April

After the District Annual Meeting in Las Vegas last summer, the Student Endowment Fund reached $440,000, and we are now launching our “Close the Gap” campaign to reach our ultimate fundraising goal of $500,000 by this summer! The Endowment Fund was founded in 2004 to provide a continuous and stable source of funding for the District’s Student Initiatives Program. Each year, the Western District invests over $15,000 in student programs, awards, and initiatives. This Spring, the Western District leaders have issued a challenge to each of the Section and Chapter Presidents to help close the gap in the Endowment Fund, and in turn, a number of Presidents are also prepared to kick off campaigns of their own to challenge their members to aid in this effort. We are getting so close to our goal, so every contribution matters, no matter how big or small.

The March-April Spotlight was written by Zaki Mustafa, who initiated the Endowment Fund when he was President of the Western District. The following are his thoughts on the Student Endowment Fund:

20160304 Zaki MustafaIt is hard to believe that when we established our Western District Endowment fund with a goal of $500,000 that we would get so close to reaching our goal within 11 years. We are so close to reaching our goal that our current president Cathy Leong would like to close the gap this year. Our president Cathy, while she served as our Endowment Fund Chair had done an outstanding job in moving the campaign forward, and Kimberly, our current chair, will help in closing the gap. However, we need your help and support to accomplish this goal.

The Student Endowment Fund was established to ensure that our profession prospers and thrives with new energy and vitality. This will allow us to deliver new and innovative services and solutions promoted from our organization. 31 years ago when I got involved in this profession I was very excited to see that what we do in the office or out in the field has a direct impact on the transportation infrastructure. Individuals within our profession can see the results of the projects we work delivered in relatively a short period of time. And yet we are not known for the creative solutions that we are developing every day.

As an organization, we need to do a better job of promoting our profession and ensuring that that we are reaching out to incoming professionals so that we are attracting innovators. By purposely aligning our words and actions and attracting and developing the creative new talent, our profession can be seen as the ones that are solving our transportation related problems. Through out of the box thinking, collaborating with others, and promoting multi-modal solutions, we can enhance our reputation to solve today’s challenges. We have direct influence on the transportation system. What I have seen over the years is that at times we are not flexible and in some cases become so ridged that we tend to see only in black and white. While we need to understand the black and white, true transportation professionals today need to be able to operate within the gray. This requires listening to today’s needs and wants within our communities and utilizing engineering judgment and design flexibility to find a way to yes.

Ever look at many of the leadership positions held in Transportation Engineering Departments throughout the nation? They are not always led by engineers! We can get frustrated or we can seek to understand the attributes and characteristics that they are looking for in these leadership positions and start attracting and developing them within our engineering disciplines.

We need to be better listeners and more flexible. We need to collaborate with and learn from other disciplines, and most importantly, we always need to be sought as part of the solution (rather than an obstacle). We need to be out of the box thinkers and come to the table with various solutions to the challenges that our elected officials and communities are facing. The old days when we were solely focused on vehicle travel and efficiency have changed. We need to work closely with our partners in making the roads more accessible and welcoming to people that walk and bike. People after all create the value on our streets and communities. As a result, we have to be creative with our designs that assure a true balance of people walking, biking, driving, and using transit. We also need to work, with a sense of urgency, to reduce the number of fatalities and severe injuries that are occurring everyday on our roadway. Safety should be one of our top emphasis. And we know that speed and design of our roadways have a direct correlation with safety. As we become more creative with our designs, we need to think of ways to make our roadway safer for all users of the roadway, especially the more vulnerable users that walk or bike.

In order for us to ensure that our incoming professionals (students) are adequately being trained, they need to participate in our professional activities. We need to support them so that they can learn from us and we can learn from them. As Steve Jobs, a creative leader, said “it doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do”. Our students will bring new ideas and solutions and we have to be careful not to squash their ideas as they could be the solutions for today’s challenges. While they have to understand the history of our profession, they also need to be standard creators helping us create the future of our profession. Our Endowment supports our faculty advisors and 38 student chapters in our District (over 688 Students AKA future colleagues). We need to ensure that we are able to support them financially so the students are able to attend our annual meetings to learn from us and also for us to learn from them. One of the easiest ways to learn about the latest design standards and practices is through attending our District Annual meetings where we can learn from others how we can be more relevant to the industry.

I know all of our sections and chapters have done outstanding work in supporting our students and Endowment Fund. Almost all of our sections have some type of fundraising events for their student programs and are contributing generously. Great examples include the Southern California Section that gave over $12,000 last year on the student paper competition or the San Bernardino Riverside Section with almost $7,000 for their student chapters. I am making a personal request to all of the section and chapter leaders that you once again make a big push by considering all of our students in our District. I know it is a lot to ask for and just ask that you think about our future as a profession and how you can support all of our students, not just your section or chapter students. I will be reaching out to all of our section and chapter presidents to get your support in closing our Endowment Fund by raising $50,000 this year for our students.

I have a goal to make our profession relevant to the people and communities we serve. It will require us to be more nimble to ensure that we are needed in our communities and profession. It is an exciting time to influence the future of our transportation profession.

Together we are the Best. Thank you for your consideration.

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

Student Endowment Fund: January/February

The January-February Spotlight was written by outgoing District International Director Jenny Grote. The following are her thoughts on the Student Endowment Fund:

ITE 234 compressedHappy New Year! I am excited for all the changes taking place in the coming year. Over my 29 years in ITE leadership positions, visiting 25+ student chapters, I have seen many of the current leaders ‘grow up’ in ITE; from knowing them as student members/leaders and now become peers in the workforce and taking on high-level leadership positions. One of these ‘rising stars’ (before there was an official ‘Rising Star’ award) was a Director with me and Jennifer Rosales this past year; Alyssa Reynolds Rodriguez. I met Alyssa in the late 1990’s when she was the Student Chapter President at Montana State University. Upon graduation, she was hired by Rich Romer for the Las Vegas office of Orth-Rodgers. When Alyssa was District President, Rich passed away from a battle with cancer, 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!

Student Endowment Fund Committee - 2008

Student Endowment Fund Committee – 2008

A little EF History– Ten years ago, the Endowment Fund was initiated by then-District President Zaki Mustafa. 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 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 was appointed as Chair in 2007, and I served on her Committee along with Julie Townsend, Michael Sanderson and Jennifer Rosales. We met twice a year at the District Board meetings, to brainstorm ideas of how to promote contributions to the Fund and how to promote student involvement. Now that Cathy is serving as District President, Kimberly Leung is chairing the Endowment Fund Committee and taking on the task of attaining the goal of having $500,000 in contributions. As of today, we are almost there at $440,000!

Please consider a contribution to the Endowment Fund in 2016. Those funds will help support our student members participate in the exciting opportunities that are planned in 2016, including:

Student Reception at ITE Headquarters @ TRB 2002

Student Reception at ITE Headquarters @ TRB 2002

TRB Reception – You are invited to ITE’s Open House Reception for Students on Monday, January 11 from 6:00pm – 8:00pm at ITE Headquarters in Washington, DC. This event is a great opportunity to meet ITE’s awesome new Executive Director, Jeffrey Paniati, along with other ITE staff members. Learn more about ITE from those in leadership positions, meet other students, those pursuing careers as transportation professionals 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. Dress is casual and feel free to wear your school colors (like I did back in 2002….Go Buffs!).  Encourage your fellow students to attend as well. ITE Headquarters is located at:

1627 Eye Street, NW
Suite 600 West
Washington, DC 20006
by Metro: Farragut West (17th and I Street, White House exit) or Farragut North

SLS – see you there!

The Student Leadership Summit is an event that brings ITE students to a Western District university in order to develop their leadership abilities, as well as improve their career development while creating friendships with fellow students. The location of the Summit varies each year and is an on-going passing of the torch from university to university in the Western District. This Summit offers the chance for leaders from the transportation industry to share their expertise in how to be a successful leader and create a successful career. I was asked to present on my 30-year career as a traffic/transportation engineer in the public sector, working for a local government agency; the City of Phoenix, Arizona.

The 2016 Summit will be held from January 22nd to the 24th, and will be hosted by Cal Poly Pomona. We hope you can join in and support this leadership event, while we work towards inspiring strong leaders for the future. This year’s Summit will help you prepare for an exciting career in transportation and challenge how you lead. For more information, check:  http://www.itesls2016.com

2014 SLS hosted by Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

2014 SLS hosted by Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

2015 SLS hosted by Sac State, Sacramento

2015 SLS hosted by Sac State, Sacramento

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

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

Student Traffic Bowl – The Student Traffic Bowl competition is held at the ITE Western District Annual Meeting between student chapter members. The objectives of the Student Traffic Bowl are to:  encourage students to become more active members in the Institute; enhance their knowledge of the traffic/transportation engineering and planning 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 will go on to compete in the Grand Championship ITE Collegiate Traffic Bowl at the International ITE Annual Meeting in Anaheim from August 14-17, although I hear Cal Poly SLO is set on repeating the Grand Championship Title they earned in 2015 at the International Annual Meeting in Florida. I am reserving a front row seat, so come and join me!

Arizona Section presents a plaque for a Jenny L. Grote Scholarship Award

Arizona Section presents a plaque for a Jenny L. Grote Scholarship Award

This will be the first year since 1987 that I will not be on an ITE Board at some level. I also intend to retire from my 30-year career with the City of Phoenix, Street Transportation Department before the end of 2016. Just like the inevitable process of replacing me at the City, I am being replaced as a leader in ITE. Last month, at the Arizona Section Holiday gathering, they surprised me with a plaque acknowledging my support of students, young professionals and my many years in offices at all levels of ITE. The Section will be awarding a $1,000 scholarship in my name to a student in transportation at an Arizona university. I am honored beyond words!

 Advice for my replacements…keep up the good work that many of us old-timers dedicated our careers and volunteer time to. I gladly step aside and am happy to let the next generation take the reins, but be sure to balance your work life with your personal life and… Carry On!