News | USC Hosts, UCI Wins So Cal ITE Traffic Bowl 2022

Stop the Video



by Jacob Wong, USC Master of Public Policy, 2023

On February 26, 2022, the Southern California Section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) held its annual Traffic Bowl competition. The virtual event was hosted by the University of Southern California (USC) chapter and featured ITE chapters from five universities in Southern California: Cal Poly Pomona, California State University Fullerton (Cal State Fullerton), University of California Irvine (UCI), University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), and USC. 



Over the course of the competition, university teams of three students each faced off in a jeopardy-style tournament of questions related to traffic engineering. The teams from UCI and Cal State Fullerton both advanced to the final round of the tournament, with UCI coming out on top.


The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) is a professional society of transportation engineers, planners, and other professionals spanning 80 countries. ITE SoCal is one of the largest sections in the organization’s western district, with over 800 members across Los Angeles and Orange County.


For the second year in a row, the competition was held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic, leading to some unique challenges for the teams. “We were forced to send messages [in a Zoom chat] as if we were hitting a buzzer to answer the questions,” said UCI team member Carter Blanchard, a graduating senior who is majoring in civil engineering. 


UCI Team Member Carter Blanchard


Blanchard, who was participating in his first Traffic Bowl, saw the event as more than just a chance to be on the winning team. “I thought it would be fun to get involved, meet people from other schools, and learn about the industry,” he said about the event. “I had a lot of fun participating, and I’m really glad I got to be a part of it.”


In addition to the networking and learning opportunities, Blanchard saw the event as a chance to work with his peers. “I’ve been involved [with ITE] all year and have gotten to know my teammates really well. I just really enjoyed being a part of this – getting to work with people I know,” he said.


For host team USC’s Arlo Fischer, a progressive degree student majoring in industrial and systems engineering and pursuing a bachelor and master’s degree simultaneously, the Traffic Bowl also served as an opportunity to connect with fellow ITE members, virtual setting aside. This was Fischer’s second time participating in the event, previously attending the last in-person competition at Cal State Fullerton in 2020. “It was more fun in person, but we also had a good time online,” Fischer said. “Our USC team gathered together at the same time. Even though it was on Zoom we were all in the same room.”


USC ITE Host-Chapter President, Arlo Fischer


Fischer has been involved with USC’s ITE chapter for the past two and a half years and is its current president so hosting this year, while during his presidency, had special meaning. “Our group is very tight-knit; everyone does a lot of work,” Fischer said. Looking back on his time at ITE, he credits the organization with informing his career plans.


“I didn’t know what I wanted to do going into college. Transportation was always really cool for me, but I didn’t know transportation was a whole field you could go into, or that you could get a master’s degree in it. I didn’t know anything about this until I got to USC,” Fischer shared


Based on his experience in ITE, Fischer believes his involvement with the organization will set him and others up well for the future. “I have met so many people through the organization, and I know I can reach out to many of them, whether they are older mentors who already have their careers started or people my age, to connect and talk about different transportation careers. I’ll always have those people whose advice I can ask,” Fischer explained.


Although Fischer’s run as host in the Traffic Bowl did not have a storybook finish - USC ended up finishing fourth out of the five teams in the event - the chance to build connections with other ITE chapters and go through the experience with fellow USC members made the experience worthwhile. It also gave the team one last chance to display their Trojan pride. “We beat UCLA’s team at least,” said Fischer, cracking a smile.


About the Author:

Jacob Wong is a first-year graduate student pursuing a Master of Public Policy degree at the Price School of Public Policy. He is curious about issues in urban policy and transportation planning. He is a recent LA transplant, and in his free time he enjoys exploring the area and the local food scene.