I’m grateful to receive one of two Student Travel Scholarships from the ITE Western District. This scholarship helped fund my travel to the combined ITE Western District and International annual meetings in Portland, Oregon, in August 2023. Below are my thoughts about the conference and trip to Portland (which were also submitted to the Student Travel Scholarship donors).
(An abridged version of this write-up was also featured on the ITE Western District website and newsletter, available here: https://westernite.org/news/student-endowment-fund-sls2023-2/)
One of my biggest goals during the ITE Annual Meeting was to learn from the vast and diverse group of individuals gathered in Portland. This, in my opinion, was a goal resoundingly fulfilled. I think the most exciting experiences on this front were the two technical tours I participated in: Biking in Portland and Portland International Airport Multimodal Facilities. Through both experiences, I discovered how transportation professionals in Portland are putting cutting-edge theory and technology into practice. Their decisions and changes are not only fascinating to the observant transportation nerd, but they are also certain to improve the average end user’s experience transiting through the city. Additionally, other tour participants raised excellent points and questions that highlighted the importance of collaboration. Of particular interest to me was the lack of life safety systems in a parking garage soon to be a TNC user pickup area – an important detail I (and most other attendees) did not notice initially.
In addition to the tours, I also enjoyed learning and networking on the exhibition floor. I quickly noticed trends proliferating among vendors’ products, especially global observability, SaaS products, intelligent and connected systems, and the use of artificial intelligence. As a major difference to other conferences I have attended, I found and appreciated that vendors were almost always happy to connect with me and other students, even though doing so has no (direct) financial benefit to them. Moreover, the conference’s extensive menu of concurrent sessions was exciting, and I especially liked the young member’s career survival guide session.
Western District-specific events were fantastic as well. The MiteY Race and Kell Student Competition were both great ways to get everyone excited for the conference. It was wonderful to see many Western District students I first met at USC’s Student Leadership Summit several months ago, and I was able to stay in contact with many of the students I met in Portland through those events. (Plus, it helps that USC students performed very well in both competitions!) We exchanged myriad lessons with all these different student leaders on topics from corporate sponsorship to future student leadership summits. I am looking forward to implementing what I learned from other students in my chapter at USC.
Aside from ITE programming, the USC group and I thoroughly enjoyed the city of Portland. Despite the heat (very similar to my experience at the involvement fair where I first learned of ITE!), we appreciated the city’s dense, walkable design. I was also impressed by TriMet’s MAX service, especially its traffic signal preemption – something Los Angeles Metro should implement in its own street-running downtown light rail service – and the ultra-deep Washington Park station, offering convenient access to swaths of nature just minutes away from the city center. Moreover, we all enjoyed Portland’s vast network of bike lanes and its focus on active transportation, as evidenced by projects like the Tilikum Crossing Bridge.
Overall, attending the ITE Annual Meeting in Portland was simultaneously great fun and an incredible learning experience. I am looking forward to implementing what I learned at the conference, and staying connected with all of the outstanding professionals and students I met. I appreciate Western District leadership and endowment donors for supporting my travel to Portland, and I am certainly looking forward to ITE Philadelphia 2024.