Originally from Seattle, Washington, Alex arrived in Bozeman in 2018 when he transferred from North Seattle College to Montana State University. He is now pursuing a dual degree in Architecture and Political Science, with a long-term goal of working in public policy development, especially promoting sustainable growth models for small rural municipalities. This summer, he is excited to learn more about the links between transportation and urban design, and how a community can build a public transit system from the ground up.
Outside of school and work, Alex is an avid rock climber, backpacker, hiker, and “passionate follower of the Everton [UK] Football Club” (yes, that’s soccer to those of us on this side of the pond).
As part of its “Transformation Tuesday” series, the National Park Service (NPS) profiled three fellows from the Public Lands Transportation Fellows (PLTF) program who are currently serving NPS units or projects. PLTF Fellows are assigned to a federal land unit for one to two years, where they lead or support projects that enhance transportation options for visitors. Within the 2020 PLTF class, three Fellows are serving the NPS. (Read the full article on the NPS website.)
In a recent feature article, Montana State University News Service detailed the contributions of MSU students to future plans for Soroptimist Park in Bozeman, Montana. The students are part of the Community-Engaged and Transformational Scholarship (CATS) program, led by WTI, which matches projects identified and prioritized by Montana communities with students and faculty in relevant disciplines at MSU to assist in making those projects reality. During the Fall 2020 semester, students in two undergraduate courses in the MSU College of Agriculture gained hands-on experience working with the city of Bozeman on research, site visits, and design workshops, which culminated in recommendations and designs for renovating the park into a multi-use urban plaza.
Montana State University senior Bryce Grame has a long-term plan for a career in transportation. With a major in Civil Engineering and a minor in statistics, he is interested in a future that will allow him to work “at the intersection of traffic engineering and transportation planning,” on issues such as emerging technologies and micromobility.
In preparation, Bryce is working as research assistant at WTI, gaining professional, hands-on experience and also providing valuable support to several projects across the mobility and safety program areas. For the Highway Safety Behavioral Strategies project, he worked with Jamie Sullivan on the development of a rural road safety countermeasure toolkit. He also served on the team led by Matt Madsen to install and evaluate the pilot “pop-up” calming and speed reduction treatments in Ennis, Montana. He is currently working with Rebecca Gleason and Andrea Hamre to evaluate the effectiveness of dynamic flashing beacons installed on rural scenic cycling routes that activate when cyclists pass over their sensors. Outside of his coursework and WTI projects Bryce has found time to lead the student ITE chapter at MSU, serve as a Resident Advisor, and squeeze in favorite activities like running, hiking, CRU community, and spending time with family.
With his upcoming graduation in May (with Summa Cum Laude Honors), the next steps in Bryce’s plans are a summer internship as a transportation analysist, followed by starting a Transportation Engineering Ph.D. program at the University of Florida. Based on his hard work and enthusiasm here at WTI, we see a bright future on the road ahead.
The City of Bozeman and Montana State University (MSU) students are partnering up to strengthen stormwater outreach efforts. Dr. Sarah Church, a professor in MSU’s Department of Earth Sciences, is leading a group of undergraduate students in a Geography course in the development of an online survey. This project is in collaboration with City staff who implement the City’s Stormwater Management Program. Bozeman residents received an insert in utility bills last month to encourage participation in the survey. Survey responses will help the City understand how to best create effective messaging and tailor programs specifically for Bozeman residents.
Dr. Church said that the students have worked hard over the past two months to learn about survey design and have developed excellent survey questions. “We are all excited to see the survey responses and the students are eager to begin analyzing the data to report back to the City – the more responses we get the more robust our findings will be,” Church said.
Frank Greenhill, a Water Quality Specialist with the City’s Stormwater Division, said that he is excited for the opportunity to work with such a talented group of students at MSU. “This is a great example of how a strong relationship between the City and MSU can work to solve complex local challenges.”
Mr. Greenhill also said that he is looking forward to analyzing the results of the survey as they will help the City key in on certain program areas and introduce new opportunities. “Surveys provide a valuable opportunity to hear from the customers we serve, and to reflect on what works, what does not, and, most importantly, what we can do better.”
MSU Speakers will highlight successful program offering professional development and career exposure to university students
How do we inspire the next generation of transportation professionals and start filling growing workforce needs in the transportation sector? Join the National Network for the Transportation Workforce for a 4-part webinar series on how to achieve effective student career engagement and priority workforce development during the pandemic and over the long term.
The Montana State
University (MSU) Student Chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers
(ITE) has worked hard in recent years to grow its membership and its
professional opportunities for engineering students, and the effort has paid
off! At the annual meeting of the
Western and Mountain ITE Districts, the MSU Chapter was selected for the
Momentum Award, which recognizes the student chapter that has most improved
over the last year. The MSU attendees
also took second place in the Collegiate Traffic Bowl, a team competition that
tests the knowledge of students on a variety of transportation planning and
ITE is a national association for transportation professionals, offering technical resources, training, and professional development. To attract and prepare the next generation of professionals, ITE encourages student involvement through university ITE chapters, leadership summits, competitions, and awards. The student chapter at MSU currently has about 35 active members. WTI research engineer Dr.Ahmed Al-Kaisyserves as the chapter’s faculty advisor. They have been very busy over the last academic year, with activities that included attending a student leadership conference in Los Angeles, CA, leading activities for K-12 students at the annual MSU Engineer-a-Thon, hosting professional speakers and networking events, and conducting hands on technical activities like traffic data collection.
President Bryce Grame and four other members attended the District
Meeting held in early July. Although
virtual this year, the attendees found it very rewarding. “With
some virtual sessions having upwards of 200 attendees, the access to industry
knowledge was expanded exponentially by moving the conference online,” said
Bryce. “As a student, I had the privilege of learning about new industry
findings and best practices through technical sessions, participating in
student leadership workshops to better serve our ITE@MSU student chapter,
receiving feedback from professionals on my resume, networking with my peers
through online social events, and competing in the annual Student Traffic Bowl
2020 will always be remembered as the year we all worked remotely – even our summer interns! WTI is pleased to welcome Jonathan Fisher, who is working from his home in Vermont. While far from Montana, he is well situated to help Andrea Hamre with a Travel Behavior Analysis project, for which he is analyzing and modeling data from traveler surveys in Chittenden County, Vermont.
Jonathan is a recent graduate of Middlebury College, where he majored in Geography and minored in French. With his skills in GIS and data analysis, combined with an interest in the environment, he sees the internship as an opportunity to learn more about transportation topics like mode choice, transportation behavior, and commuter benefits: “I have always loved working with numbers and I was eager to put my new statistical skillset to use on a professional research project.” Andrea added, “It’s been a true pleasure working with Jonathan this summer. We’ve worked through an ambitious research plan together, and I hope this introduction to transportation research with WTI supports his career development.”
A lifetime Vermont resident, Jonathan is considering a move to Boston in the near future to start his professional career. When he’s not crunching numbers, learning how to write a journal article, or checking out the job market, he also manages to find time for running, basketball, baking and reading.
The placement year for the Class of 2019-2020 Public Land Transportation Fellows (PLTF) is drawing to a close. Over the last three weeks, Naomi Fireman, Nate Begay, and Vince Ziols have been featured in “Takeover Tuesday” posts on LinkedIn, reflecting on their experiences working and learning in US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) wildlife refuges.
Naomi Fireman has been stationed at Potomac River National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Northern Virginia, where she has assisted with a variety of projects to enhance transportation facilities within and between the individual refuges that make up the large complex. Highlights included re-designing a refuge entrance, planning and installing new bike racks, and applying for a federal grant to complete a trail project. Naomi noted, “Especially nowadays we can see how important it is for people to connect to and get out into nature. I am proud to be helping improve my refuge’s accessibility and connectivity to the local area and beyond.”
On the other side of the country, Nate Begay has been working with staff and partners at Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge (VdO) in Albuquerque, NM to improve transportation access, as well as expand educational programs. Some of his favorite projects have included bringing a bike share station to the visitor center, helping staff design the refuge trail network, and designing an outdoor classroom for field trips. Nate appreciated the chance to collaborate with the many local stakeholders who support the Refuge: “Working with Valle de Oro has allowed me to not only give back to my community, but also follow my passion of working in public lands.”
Vince Ziols has had the unique opportunity to spend nearly two years at the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge (DRIWR) in Michigan. In his first year, he completed a number of transportation planning projects to facilitate access to the Refuge by residents of Detroit and other surrounding communities. DRIWR then extended his fellowship for a second year, which has allowed him to put many of the projects into action, including extending a regional bus route to the Refuge Gateway and Visitor Center, helping a nonprofit organization secure a $1.9 million grant for trail development, and implementing a trail signage and safety plan. According to Vince, the fellowship has had several valuable benefits: “I have found another home here in Detroit and know that my experience as a PLTF has prepared me for the next step of my career.”
The application process for the 2020 Public Lands Transportation Fellows (PLTF) Class is now open!! The PLTF program provides fellowships to recent graduates (sometimes current graduate students) in a transportation-related engineering, planning, or resource management program. They receive a unique opportunity for learning, career development, and public service within a federal land unit or agency headquarters. This year, the program is seeking applications for five positions: one at the Southeast National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Louisiana, one at the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Complex in Massachusetts, and three within the National Park Service. Learn more at the PLTF Application webpage, then help us get the word out!