By Stacey Park, Research Assistant, Center for International Trade and Transportation (CITT)
Representatives from all the Pacific Southwest Region (PSR) 9 UTC partners were present at the first annual PSR Congress meeting held at Long Beach State University. The purpose of the PSR Congress is to bring industry and public agency representatives together with PSR students and faculty to discuss the region’s needs and how PSR can address them. Region 9 includes California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands. PSR is an eight member consortium led by USC. Other partners are: Long Beach State University, University of California Davis, University of California Irvine, University of California Los Angeles, University of Hawaii, and Pima Community College. The PSR center is funded by the Department of Transportation (DOT) at approximately $2.75 million per year, for five years. Matching funds are provided by Caltrans, other state DOTs, local agencies, and private industry.
The Congress also served as PSR’s first Advisory Council meeting. Given the geographic expanse of Region 9, the annual Congress serves as the only time the Advisory Council will meet in person.
The Congress provided a venue for students and faculty to share ideas and expectations for the center. Each university shared their current progress, recent hosted events, and transportation-focused degree and certification programs to foster a better center-wide understanding of the region’s current state of transportation education and research. “It is important for all of us to convene in order to address concerns and discuss our shared goals,” METRANS Executive Director Genevieve Giuliano said. “The annual Congress will provide an opportunity to listen to students’ concerns and to collaborate with other university partners.”
Graduate and undergraduate students brought research posters to share their university’s ongoing projects. Themes from the posters included freight transportation applications of geographic information systems (GIS), assessment of warehouse decentralization, and vehicle-wildlife collision analysis.
“I thought it was very useful to understand the diversity of the research on transportation related topics that is being undertaken by the PSR, both between and within disciplines,” PhD Candidate in Urban Planning (USC) Nathan Hutson said. “It was also good to have community college representation with respect to the community connections and implementation considerations of transportation research.”
In the latter part of the day-long meeting, students broke out into a separate session to brainstorm about their specific needs and what the PSR UTC can offer. Faculty and Advisory Council members engaged in a discussion of how PSR could best address the research, education, and technology transfer needs of the region. A wide ranging discussion revealed that the research themes of PSR were inclusive of the main transportation challenges in the region—resiliency, automated vehicles, alternative fuels and power resources, and goods movement. Council members were equally concerned with education and workforce development, noting the need for retraining the existing workforce, as well as developing a pipeline for the many types of jobs anticipated.
Meanwhile the student session revealed interest in frequent research updates and communication between universities, a focus on developing K-12 curriculum geared toward transportation careers, transportation workforce development, and networking events for PSR members. The students strongly agreed that the UTC partnership should leverage the educational, training, and career opportunities of a large network for current and prospective students.
“Faculty and students of the PSR UTC showed great interest in staying connected with and informed about other university partners. The desire for future collaborative research projects, and other professional opportunities, was apparent. To propel PSR forward, the UTC will consider how to best leverage the ideas and connections that developed through this initial meeting,” Master of Science in Supply Chain Management Student (Long Beach State) Miles Winston said.
Introductions to PSR by Gen Giuliano
Student Participants at PSR Congress Meeting