WTI’s Community-engaged and Transformational Scholarship (CATS) program fosters course-based project partnerships between MSU faculty and students and public agencies or other community-based organizations. CATS provides a framework for agencies to harness students’ ideas, creativity, and energy while at the same time offering students the unique opportunity to work for a real client and to produce a mutually defined outcome that addresses important community needs.
Dr. Sarah Church, Assistant Professor in Earth Sciences, has been an active participant in the program since joining MSU as a faculty member in 2019. Through CATS, she has partnered with the City of Bozeman to engage her undergraduate and graduate students on a wide variety of course-based projects, exploring a range of topics from planning processes, neighborhood character preservation, and stormwater management, to public outreach and communication mechanisms. This spring, Sarah received the MSU President’s Award of Excellence in Service-Learning in recognition of her outstanding track record of fostering student learning through real world community projects.
The West Region Transportation Workforce Center has released the University Partnership Playbook, a step-by-step guide for creating multi-project collaborations between public agencies and universities. The collaborations offer students hands-on transportation project experience within their university courses and provide agencies with added expertise and capacity for community-based projects.
The Playbook uses the Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities (EPIC) Model, a framework for making university resources (faculty, students, laboratories, specialized and multidisciplinary expertise, etc.) available to public entities to help solve their priority challenges. At the same time, it promotes professional development and career awareness opportunities for university students.
Designed for public agencies and other potential partners who are interested in starting or expanding a partnership with a university, the playbook includes:
- Tried and true implementation steps for organizing a successful university partnership
- Common challenges and fixes
- Adaptations to the model
- Success stories from different locations around the country, which highlight potential outcomes and benefits
The University Partnership Playbook is available to read or download on the WRTWC Resources webpage.
A newly published book on training the next generation of transportation workers at all levels includes a chapter written by two WTI staff members. Empowering the New Mobility Workforce: Educating, Training, and Inspiring Future Transportation Professionals identifies strategies that education, industry, and government leaders can use to facilitate learning and skill development related to emerging transportation technologies and challenges. Susan Gallagher, WTI’s Education Workforce Program Manager, and former WTI Director, Steve Albert wrote a chapter on “Cultivating a rural lens: successful approaches to developing regional transportation corridors through professional capacity building,” which focuses on the unique workforce challenges faced by transportation agencies at the rural and regional level and describes relevant examples of incorporating professional capacity building into transportation projects.
The book addresses one of the most critical issues in transportation – the growing workforce shortage. Transportation industries project a need to hire more than 4 million employees over the next decade. Empowering the New Mobility Workforce has been endorsed by national transportation leaders, including former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta. It is available on the Elsevier Publishing website or on Amazon.com.
Citation: Reeb, Tyler (Ed.). (2019). Empowering the New Mobility Workforce: Educating, Training, and Inspiring Future Transportation Professionals. Amsterdam: Elsevier Publishing.
Improving safety on rural roadways is a multi-faceted challenge – to make progress, it helps to collaborate with many partners. WTI’s Jaime Sullivan, who is also the Manager of the National Center for Rural Road Safety, has been on the road in recent weeks meeting with key safety partners at national meetings and conferences.
At the April annual meeting of the National Association of County Engineers (NACE), Jaime exhibited the Safety Center booth to promote the Center’s resources, trainings, and initiatives. Montana LTAP Director Matt Ulberg was also in attendance. NACE, LTAP, the Safety Center, and the West Region Transportation Workforce Center have all been collaborating on the development of a Local Road Safety Certificate that will provide engineers and transportation professionals with specific training on assessing safety challenges and implementing countermeasures.
Jaime then traveled to the Safety Committee meeting of the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO), where she presented an update on the Local Road Safety Certificate program. She was also invited to give a presentation on the safety components of the NCHRP Rural Research Road Map project, which is identifying and prioritizing the most critical issues facing rural transportation. “The AASHTO meeting, which was led by Montana DOT Director Mike Tooley, was a great opportunity to get input and recommendations from transportation leaders and practitioners who see the challenges and consequences of safety issues on a daily basis,” said Jaime; “this firsthand input really improves and invigorates our research and training efforts at the Center.”
At the West Region Transportation Workforce Center (WRTWC), the first Research Experience for Teachers in Innovative Transportation Systems (ITS-RET) program is well underway. Ten middle, high school, and community college faculty participants are conducting multidisciplinary transportation research for six weeks at Montana State University this summer. The research topic areas focus on the unique challenges of rural transportation systems and developing solutions to transportation challenges through innovation. In addition to working with faculty and research mentors on research, the ITS-RET participants are translating their research experiences into classroom curricula.
On July 31 and August 1, the teachers were able to implement new teaching materials they developed during a two-day workshop held for middle and high school students. The classroom activities demonstrated what an excellent vehicle transportation is for integrated STEM learning. The young workshop participants were able to hone computational thinking skills during a programming challenge, test the strength of different materials, build and test crash attenuators, and use drones to survey a landscape before designing and building wildlife crossing structures. The classroom modules will be posted to the WRTWC website next month as a resource for other teachers. Teachers interested in participating in the RET program next summer can visit the Center website for additional information: http://wrtwc.org/resources/for-educators/
View the WTI project description
WRTWC is sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration and based at the Western Transportation Institute.
On November 7, WTI’s new grant from the National Science Foundation was highlighted in a feature article on the Montana State University website. The project will allow WTI’s West Region Transportation Workforce Center, in partnership with MSU’s College of Engineering, to offer a six-week summer program for high school and community college teachers. The program will begin in the summer of 2018 and will educate teachers on rural transportation research topics and will help them develop curricula for their own students.View the Recruiting Flyer Research Experience for Teachers
The West Region Transportation Workforce Center is offering a free, 1.5 hour webinar, on Respectful Workplaces and Health & Safety Empowerment for Women in Highway Construction Trades. It will explore research conducted on the experience of women and minorities in highway construction and the trades. The webinar will describe how the research served to inform pilot projects at job sites in both Oregon and Washington to foster respectful workplaces and to improve health and safety for women in the trades. This webinar is in partnership with the Department of Labor Women’s Bureau and will take place Wednesday, October 25th from 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM Mountain/1:00 AM to 2:30 PM Eastern. Click here http://wrtwc.org/news/2017/tradeswomen/ for more information and to register.
The West Region Transportation Workforce Center at WTI and Moscow State University for Transport Engineering (MIIT) in Russia have completed a unique, year-long collaboration designed to make transportation in rural communities more accessible to people with disabilities. In both countries, rural transit agencies struggle to meet accessibility requirements because of limited funding and large service areas. After recognizing their mutual goals, the two institutions realized that both would benefit from sharing research findings and other resources. The project was jointly sponsored by the Eurasia Foundation’s University Partnership Program and by the Small Urban and Rural Livability Center.
After WTI researchers collected information about different accessibility training programs, they shared the information with MIIT, as well as with transit providers in the U.S., both on the West Region Transportation Workforce Center website and through a series of webinars. The researchers also compared accessibility education programs and data from surveys of transit providers in their respective countries to identify barriers and successes to providing accessible transportation services. For more information, check out the feature article published by the Montana State University News Service.