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METRANS to Celebrate “10 Years of Exellence” on Oct. 30

Published: October 13, 2008

On Thursday, Oct. 30, the METRANS Transportation Center will mark “10 Years of Excellence” at the Galen Center in Los Angeles with a celebration reception and dinner. A partnership of CSULB and the University of Southern California, METRANS is a U.S. Department of Transportation designated University Transportation Center (UTC). Its mission over the years has remained the same—to solve transportation problems of large metropolitan areas through research, education, and outreach.

“This is a time to celebrate and there will be a wonderful exhibit of what we have accomplished over the last 10 years,” said CSULB’s Marianne Venieris, executive director of the Center for International Trade and Transportation (CITT) and METRANS Deputy Director. “We expect attendance from many CSULB faculty, researchers and students. There will be a video that Dave Kelly (from CSULB’s Advanced Media Production) has produced summarizing what we have done. And the keynote speaker is fantastic.”

That scheduled speaker is David Billington, a famed chronicler of bridges, dams, and other engineering feats that have changed the landscape of the 20th century. Billington holds Princeton’s Gordon Y.S. Wu Chair of Engineering. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the winner of numerous research and teaching awards. His recent publications include Power, Speed and Form: Engineers and the Making of the Twentieth Century and Big Dams of the New Deal Era: The Confluence of Engineering and Politics. His topic for the October 30th dinner will be Power, Speed and Form: Transportation and Innovation.

METRANS sponsors several programs at CSULB, including CITT’s Global Logistics Specialist program, which offers professional designation training for individuals both on campus and worldwide via the program online. In addition, through CITT,CSULB sponsors all METRANS short-term training programs in goods movement. This includes a highly successful three-day program for Caltrans which will be offered for the third time in 2009.

METRANS funds research in all aspects of metropolitan transportation. This includes goods movement and international trade; mobility of urban populations; transportation infrastructure; and safety, security, and vulnerability. Faculty members at both CSULB and USC are eligible to submit proposals and are encouraged to work together where possible. Since its inception, METRANS has funded $7.7 million in research.

“We are a university,” said Tom O’Brien, CITT’s Director of Research and METRANS’ Associate Director for Long Beach Programs. “As such, we are in a position to look at things more objectively. The research we have provided to the industry for goods movement was not always there before. We offer independent, peer-reviewed research and that is very different than studies done by and for a particular industry segment.

“All of our research also involves students,” he continued. “That’s one of the mandates. It’s very important. When we assess proposals we look very carefully to see if student involvement is there and how faculty plan to have students assist them with the research. We want students to understand transportation and this is one way to accomplish this.” The METRANS website (www.metrans.org) offers access to all the METRANS research reports.

Another benefit METRANS has provided is frequent sponsorship of seminars and workshops. In 2006, METRANS inaugurated the National Urban Freight Conference and has gained a national reputation for sponsoring CITT’s Annual State of the Industry Town Hall Meetings, bringing together all stakeholders in the dynamic environment of Southern California ports for an educational dialogue.

“We put together the National Urban Freight Conference,” said Venieris. “It’s the one and only conference where researchers and practitioners come together to share research that relates to impacts of trade in an urban environment such as Los Angeles.

“And the Annual Town Hall Meetings are sponsored by METRANS,” she added. “Without METRANS we would not have been able to create an educational forum where thousands of longshore members and industry leaders mingle, listen to and ask questions of experts who discuss issues critical to the industry. It’s a very important event.”

METRANS 10 Years

Venieris feels that the universities are fortunate to have METRANS for a number of reasons, the main one being the recruitment of good young faculty members.

“The fact that we have a DOT funded transportation center such as METRANS has been a crucial asset in our ability to attract faculty with research interests in transportation,” said Joe Magaddino, chair, Department of Economics, CSULB, and member of METRANS Executive Committee. “The funding support has been instrumental in allowing faculty to further their research and, in so doing, has established the campus as a leader in goods movement research.”

CSULB members of the METRANS Executive Committee include, in addition to Magaddino and Venieris, Anastasios Chassiakos and Mahyar Amouzegar, College of Engineering.

Another objective of the UTC program is to encourage U.S. universities to attract more students to the disciplines of transportation. “To some extent, it is our responsibility to go to high schools and get students to consider a careers and education in the transportation field,” said Venieris.

So, what does the future of METRANS look like?

“It has been a great pleasure to see METRANS grow from its origin in 1998 to the nationally respected UTC today,” said Venieris. “Transportation in metropolitan areas brings new challenges and opportunities every year and we look forward to making a contribution and remain an active and valued resource for the industry, government and the communities.”

The charge for the anniversary event is $75 per person if received by Wednesday, Oct. 15 and $85 up until the event. Those interested in attending the event can register online at www.metrans.org or call 213/821-1025 or 562/985-2876. Please call Alix Traver at 52876 for transportation arrangements from CSULB to the Galen Center.