News | METRANS Students Lunch with Caltrans and WTS

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METRANS Students Lunch with Caltrans and WTS

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

by By Rui (Rae) Zhang, USC Price School Master of Planning, Transportation, 2018

On Wednesday, July 18, the Orange County and Los Angeles chapters of Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) hosted a professional development lunch, Caltrans 11 &12, featuring speakers Gerard Chadergian, Division Chief of TMC Traffic Operations, Caltrans District 11; and Geraldo De Santos, Acting District Director, Caltrans District 12; addressing the new opportunities for regional transportation as a result of Senate Bill 1 (SB-1)

Speakers Addressing Luncheon Attendees

Photo by Marisa Trautz

METRANS students Yilin Zhang and I, both newly graduated from USC’s Master of Planning program, were fortunate to be sponsored by METRANS to attend.  There, we met industry professionals and learned what to expect for the new transportation era, particularly in the context and the strong influence of SB-1.

SB-1 was signed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2017 and legislated annual fund raising of over $5 billion to maintain the state’s transportation network. Transportation professionals see SB-1 as a landmark transportation funding package, especially in response to California’s significant funding shortfall, and a significant catalyst for stimulating job creation, technological development, and system rehabilitation.

WTS Luncheon Attendees

Photo by Marisa Trautz

These topics were highlighted in the presentations of the two speakers with local focuses on both the Orange County and San Diego areas. Chadergian opened a broader discussion on the signal operations and infrastructure planning work Caltrans has been concentrating on to get ready for the autonomous vehicle era. He noted that Caltrans would hold an open, cooperative, and welcoming attitude to the rapidly changing transportation world.

“WTS events always inspire me to think boldly on the prospective developments of the transportation industry,” shared Zhang.  “It means a lot to graduate students like me to be given these opportunities to access the industry insights, which greatly help me think about in which direction new opportunities would be created and what skills need to be developed to make sure I can always be ready for the future.” She also underscored the importance of updating the professional vision and skill sets, and encouraged other prospective transportation professionals to be on the lifelong learning track.  We both express our sincere gratitude for the generous sponsorship of METRANS to attend this event.

WTS Board and Caltrans Speakers

About the Author: Rui Zhang

Rui (Rae) Zhang is a new graduate of USC Master of Planning program with transportation concentration. She is interested in data analysis and GIS applications of transit and freight projects. She can be reached at [email protected]. Her portfolio website can be checked at