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