Environmental Career Path Profiles

Many environmental fields contribute to planning, building, and operating a sustainable transportation network. The people who bring these skills and their passion to work in transportation organizations help to mitigate the environmental impacts of our expansive mobility, and identify, design and operate new mobility systems for the future. Below you will find links to 14 profiles of people working across 11 different environmental fields in transportation-related work.

  1. Fish, Wildlife & Rare Species
  2. Transit & TDM
  3. Bicycle & Pedestrian Initiative
  4. Planning &Modeling
  5. Water Quality
  6. Noise Abatement
  7. Hydrological Studies
  8. Community Impact Assessment
  9. Cultural Resources
  10. Waste Management and Remediation
  11. Hazardous Materials

These profiles were developed to provide guidance and inspiration to students and young professionals looking to identify future career choices in environmental fields in the transportation sector. (The information is current as of June 2019. If we receive updates they will be noted by an * next to the name, and new information will be posted at the bottom of the page.)

Environmental Work in the Transportation Sector – Career Profiles
Name Title Organization Undergraduate Degree Graduate Degree Field(s)
Patti Kallfelz-Wertz Environmental Scientist VHB- Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. Ecology 1- Fish, Wildlife & Rare Species
James Brady Environmental Biologist Vermont Agency of Transportation Ecology 1- Fish, Wildlife & Rare Species
Lori Zeller Transportation Planner Foursquare ITP Planning, Geography City and Regional Planning, Transportation 2- Transit and TDM;

4- Planning & Modeling

Nicole Freedman Director of Transportation Planning City of Newton, MA Urban Planning, Economics 2- Transit and TDM;

3- Bicycle & Pedestrian Initiatives; 4- Planning & Modeling

David Sorrell Mobility Solutions Programs & Transportation Demand Administration University of California, Berkeley Parking and Transportation Department Public Administration Organizational Development and Leadership 2- Transit and TDM
Jeff Owen Strategic Planning Coordinator TriMet Landscape Architecture City and Regional Planning, Transportation 2- Transit and TDM;

3- Bicycle & Pedestrian Initiatives;

4- Planning & Modeling

Emma Chapman * Bike Train Operator Divvy Bicycle Share History of Art & Political Science, Architectural History & Urban Studies MBA, Finance & Public Accounting 2- Transit and TDM;

3- Bicycle & Pedestrian Initiatives; 4- Planning & Modeling

Eleni Churchill Transportation Program Manager Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission Civil Engineering Civil Engineering 4- Planning & Modeling
Emily Nosse-Leirer Planner Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission Urban Geography Urban Geography 4- Planning & Modeling
Robert Widley Water Resources Engineer VHB- Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. Environmental Studies Water Resources Engineering 5- Water Quality;

7-Hydrological Studies

Scott Edwards Senior Associate Cross-Spectrum Acoustics Acoustical Engineering & Music 6- Noise Abatement,

8- Community Impact Assessment

Kaitlin O’Shea Preservation Planner VHB- Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. Historic Preservation Historic Preservation 9- Cultural Resources
Paige Cornell Environmental Scientist VHB- Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. Environmental Science, Geology, Geospatial Technologies 10- Waste Management & Remediation;

11- Hazardous Materials

Charlie Farmer Environmental Engineer VHB- Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. Environmental Science Environmental Engineering

5- Water Quality;

10- Waste Management & Remediation



* Emma Chapman  Emma has started a new job in July 2019 as an Associate with Cambridge Systematics helping midwestern transportation clients work through financial planning challenges in their Transit Planning & Policy group.
The design and collection of profiles for this page was conducted by Marissa McFadden, a UVM Graduate student working as a research assistant at the Transportation Research Center

with funding from the National Center for Sustainable Transportation at UC Davis. Disclaimer: The contents of this report reflect the views of the authors, who are responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the information presented herein. This document is disseminated in the interest of information exchange. The report is funded, partially or entirely, by a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s University Transportation Centers Program. However, the U.S. Government assumes no liability for the contents or use thereof.

Utah DOT ‘Field Trip’ Entices Students To Explore Transportation Careers

With teams of secondary school students flocking to Park City, UT, to compete in the final round of the 2019 American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials National Bridge Challenge competition – an event that is part of the organization’s annual spring meeting – the Utah Department of Transportation engaged in a “future workforce recruiting” effort.

On May 20, the day before the bridge competition finals, the Utah DOT organized a tour of its Traffic Operations Center in Salt Lake City, busing the students, their parents, and teachers to the facility for a day-long tour, complete with a buffet lunch.

The tour included a detailed overview of the TOC’s traffic camera control room and its weather center, where up 12 meteorologists work to analyze statewide weather patterns that could impact roadway conditions.

The students also visited with one of Utah DOT’s incident management teams parked in front of the building and attended presentations on structural engineering, traffic signal design and development, drone operation, and autonomous vehicles.

“You can’t stop learning in transportation,” emphasized Blaine Leonard, Utah DOT’s technology and innovation engineer, during his presentation to the students.

Blaine Leonard

Leonard – a key architect of the agency’s “first-in-the-nation” connected and autonomous vehicle or CAV system that uses Designated Short Range Communications or DSRC radios to help Utah Transit Authority buses “talk” to traffic signals so they arrive at their stops on time – stressed that “everything I work with now in transportation was invented after I graduated from college. And the day may come when we potentially won’t need to drive. And you – and your children – will be at the forefront of that.”

Matt Dunn, assistant district engineer of maintenance with the Mississippi Department of Transportation – who served as the announcer for the event – noted that all of the students participating in the competition represented “the future” of the transportation industry.

“We need young minds like theirs to think outside the box and help strengthen our transportation system,” he explained. “We need young people to be interested in transportation and pursue these jobs so they can provide the future workforce for the state DOTs. And its events like these are what attracts middle and high school students to the field of transportation engineering.”

“The students of the future presenting here are unbelievable,” added Carlos Braceras, Utah DOT’s executive director and AASHTO’s 2018-2019 president, during the event. “We hope to help them design their future through such competitions, for we never have enough engineers in transportation.”



Read the full article on the AASHTO Journal

New Flyer and Robotic Research to Partner on Development of Autonomous Bus Technology

New Flyer of America Inc. (“New Flyer”), a subsidiary of NFI Group Inc. (“NFI”), has entered into a partnership with Robotic Research, LLC (“Robotic Research”) to advance autonomous bus technology through developing and deploying advanced driver-assistance systems (“ADAS”) in heavy-duty transit bus applications.

New Flyer invested over two years assessing world-leading technology providers for sophisticated autonomous vehicle development. New Flyer ultimately selected Robotic Research based on the company’s proven, industry-leading, artificial intelligence-based technology, coupled with its extensive experience delivering successful Level 5 autonomous vehicle applications for customers within the defense and intelligence community, including the U.S. Department of Defense.

“New Flyer has a proud history of leading innovation, industry firsts, and technology advancement in public transportation,” said Chris Stoddart, president, New Flyer. “Our ADAS vision supports the mobility needs of all Americans relying on public transit for safe and reliable transportation every day. Partnering with Robotic Research furthers our commitment to utilize the best expertise and technology available, while reaffirming our responsibility to work with regulators and stakeholders on standards and test protocols that integrate automated vehicles safely into the existing transportation system.”

The partnership between New Flyer and Robotic Research will pursue development of an Xcelsior CHARGE™ battery-electric bus equipped with Society of Automotive Engineers (“SAE”) Standard J3016 Level 4 ADAS technology. SAE J3016 Level 4 is defined as high automation where the vehicle performs all driving tasks autonomously while actively monitoring the driving environment. The technology will be tested at Robotic Research facilities in late 2019, with closed course operation anticipated for 2020. To simulate realistic public transit applications, a trained onboard safety attendant will be utilized for evaluation and demonstration.

“We are extremely excited to be partnering with New Flyer to help usher in a new future for public transportation that offers greater safety for the public and reduced carbon emissions for our environment,” said Edward Mottern, vice president of Robotic Research. “’New Flyer’s clear commitment to investing in both of these outcomes by harnessing the power of the latest technologies available, together with their leadership in public transportation, make them an outstanding partner of choice.”

In March 2019, New Flyer was invited by U.S. Secretary of Transportation (“USDOT”) Elaine Chao to participate alongside transportation industry leaders in critical discussions regarding automation adoption and workforce development, in coordination with the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Commerce, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

New Flyer remains focused on supporting industry dialogue, workforce development and advancement toward technology standards that deliver safe, clean, sustainable, connected mobility options to transit agencies, operators, passengers and communities across North America.

Read the whole article at Mass Transit Magazine!

How Effective is Your Career Pathways Advisory Board?

Many instructors and administrators struggle with effectively building and using advisory boards. Many do not know how to get started or how to find good advisory board members. Often, once they have identified members, they don’t know how to effectively engage and retain them. Participants will be encouraged, before the session, to provide their concerns and also suggestions for successful implementation for using advisory boards. Our distinguished presenters will describe how they have successfully used new and innovative ways to start and maintain advisory boards while addressing the concerns and suggestions identified by participants. This discussion focused on how to maximize the effectiveness of an advisory board to advance a transportation, or other, career path program. We heard from educators who have engaged, nurtured and maintained board involvement in the design, development and delivery of their program.

The webinar covered 4 critical components:

  • The importance of using a highly effective advisory board.
  • How to design and develop a highly effective board.
  • How to identify potential effective members and retain them.
  • How to engage critical employers in the advisory process.

To watch a recording of this webinar, please click below.  


Aging and in need of attention: America’s infrastructure and its 17 million workers

By now, you’re probably familiar with America’s infrastructure challenge. From clogged roads, to unsafe pipes, to limited broadband access, the list goes on. Concerns over infrastructure affordability, reliability, and overall investment also remain a constant. And despite potential infrastructure solutions coming from leaders in Washington, along the campaign trail and beyond, there has been little federal action.

But what you may not have thought or heard as much about is the enormous infrastructure workforce challenge facing the country.

Just as our physical infrastructure systems are aging and in need of attention, so too are the workers who design, construct, operate, and oversee these systems. In other words, these workers are not only constructing projects in the short-term, but maintaining all types of facilities in the long-term—from ports and power plants to railroads and waterways. The problem is that many of them are nearing or are eligible for retirement, and there is not a strong training pipeline to educate and equip a new generation of talent with the skills they need.

Past Brookings research has shown the wide range of workers involved in managing the country’s infrastructure, and the latest labor data from 2018 shows a continued demand for skilled workers throughout this foundational economic sector.

Crucially, though, this workforce challenge also presents a workforce opportunity. At a time when many Americans are still struggling to secure stable, well-paying jobs, infrastructure offers just that.

Indeed, the enormous number and variety of infrastructure jobs speak to the multiple career pathways available to workers across all skill levels and all regions. Estimates from 2018 find that nearly 17.2 million workers—or about 12 percent of all workers nationally—are employed in infrastructure jobs, concentrated in 94 different occupations. Electricians, water treatment operators, and civil engineers are among the largest occupations overall, in addition to many other positions in the skilled trades, finance, and management. Truck drivers and material movers remain essential to carrying out a range of non-automated tasks. Taken together, infrastructure jobs employed more workers than retail (16.0 million) or manufacturing (12.6 million), among other sizable sectors.

Read more at https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2019/04/16/aging-and-in-need-of-attention-americas-infrastructure-and-its-17-million-workers/

ArcBest CEO wins 2019 Distinguished Woman in Logistics Award

Women In Trucking Association (WIT) today announced Judy R. McReynolds, chairman, president and chief executive officer of ArcBest, as the winner of the fifth annual Women In Trucking Association’s Distinguished Woman in Logistics Award (DWLA).

McReynolds has been in the logistics and transportation industry for 28 years, including 21 at ArcBest. In 2010, she was named to the position of president and CEO. This was during a time when the industry and economy were recovering from the Great Recession. She took the company from a net loss of $127.5 million in 2009 to reporting an adjusted net income of $103 million as of year-end 2018. During her tenure, ArcBest revenue has increased more than 110% and employment has increased 26%. In 2016, McReynolds was elected as Chairman of the Board of ArcBest Corporation.

“Early on in my career, I decided I wasn’t going to make gender an issue or allow other people to do so. When I was named president and CEO in 2010, I was one of very few women in that role in the logistics industry. Our industry traditionally has a lot of male representation, although there is clearly a recent trend toward more female representation,” said McReynolds. “At ArcBest, we believe in promoting the best person for every role. As long as companies are focused on putting the best people in leadership, more of our industry’s leaders will be women.”

Sponsored by the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) and Truckstop.com, the award is intended to “promote the achievements of women employed in the North American transportation industry,” according to a WIT press release.

The other finalists for 2019 were: Lindsey Graves, Sunset Transportation; Michelle Halkerston, Hassett Express; Judy McReynolds, ArcBest; Sarah Ruffcorn, Trinity Logistics; and Erin Van Zeeland, Schneider. According to WIT, finalists were selected from an immense group of high-performing women representing third-party logistics, supply chain management and related functional disciplines.

Members of the judging panel include: Stephanie S. Ivey, Director of Intermodal Freight Transportation Institute, Southeast Transportation Workforce Center, and Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Memphis; Nancy O’Liddy, Chief of Staff at TIA; Brent Hutto, Chief Relationship Officer at Truckstop.com; and Ellen Voie, President and CEO of WIT.

https://www.womenintrucking.org/arcbest-ceo-wins-women-in-trucking-association-s-2019-distinguished-woman-in-logistics-award and

TRANSIT WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT: Improved Strategic Planning Practices Could Enhance FTA Efforts

The nation’s transit agencies are having a hard time finding the qualified workers and managers needed to keep buses, trains, and ferries moving. To address this, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently issued a report finding that
current federal projections of future workforce needs either don’t include or aren’t specific to the transit workforce and the Federal Transit Administration’s strategic planning could be more effective in assisting transit agencies with workforce issues

The GAO made 3 recommendations, including that FTA consider whether more specific workforce projections would be worthwhile and develop a strategy to address future workforce needs.

  • The FTA Administrator should determine, in collaboration with transit stakeholders, whether additional transit workforce data are needed to identify potential future occupational shortages in the transit industry and whether the benefits of this collection would outweigh the cost of gathering it. 
  • The FTA Administrator should develop and document a strategy that outlines how FTA will help address future transit workforce needs. 
  • The FTA Administrator should develop and document clearly defined performance goals and measures for its transit workforce development efforts.

While FTA assists transit stakeholders with addressing workforce needs—for example, providing about $29 million in workforce development assistance in fiscal year 2017—it lacks key strategic planning practices that could ensure its efforts are effective. FTA first reported to Congress in 2016 that it planned to develop a transit workforce strategic plan; however, no clear action has been taken to develop one so far. Further, FTA does not have clearly defined performance goals and measures—as outlined in the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA) and the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010—for FTA’s transit workforce development efforts. Without these key strategic planning practices, FTA is limited in its ability to make informed decisions about effectively leveraging its resources to address future transit workforce needs and in measuring the effectiveness of its efforts.

FTA provides more than $12 billion annually to support and expand transit services. The operation of transit systems depends on a skilled, qualified workforce, but impending transit worker retirements and advances in transit technology may create challenges for the transit workforce such as finding eligible applicants for transit jobs and obtaining the technology expertise needed.

2019 National LTAP/TTAP/NTTD Conference

2019 National LTAP/TTAP & NTTD Conference

August 12-15 2019
Stowe, Vermont

Hosted at the Stoweflake Conference Center www.stoweflake.com

Conference Registration Fee:  $375.00 Early Bird (before July 1, 2019) or $425 (after July 1, 2019)

Spouse/Guest Program Fee:  Full Guest (Conference Meals and Evening Events): $275.00

Guest Registration for Evening Events Only:  $100.00

Conference Attendee and Exhibitor Registration Link:  


For registration questions, please contact:  Regina Hackett – CT LTAP – (860) 486-6753 

Hotel Reservations:  Make your reservation by calling 800-253-2232  –  Hotel Rate is $135 (2019 Federal Per Diem Rate)

Recruiting Tomorrow’s Workforce

The transportation industry faces a significant gap between the number of skilled positions needed in the workforce and the number of people qualified to fill those positions. The projected annual job openings in the transportation field through 2022 are about 68 percent greater than the number of people completing transportation-related education and training programs, according to Strengthening Skills Training and Career Pathways Across the Transportation Industry, a joint report from the U.S. Departments of Transportation, Education, and Labor. Without enough qualified workers, the industry grapples with a growing challenge to develop, operate, and maintain a safe and efficient transportation system.

One way the Federal Highway Administration is working to narrow the workforce gap is by encouraging young people to explore the opportunities awaiting them in transportation. Many middle and high school students are unaware that a transportation career can involve a variety of disciplines—from engineering to planning and design to safety and supply chain management. Conducted in partnership with State departments of transportation and academic institutions, the National Summer Transportation Institute (NSTI) is an FHWA program that expands the awareness of career opportunities in transportation and helps address future needs for a capable and diverse workforce.

In 2018, NSTI celebrated 25 years of educating students about transportation and piquing their interest in college-level studies and career opportunities in the field.

Administered by FHWA’s Center for Transportation Workforce Development, NSTI promotes science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines among middle and high school students and encourages them to pursue transportation-related studies at the college and university level. Open to middle and high school students throughout the United States and its territories, NSTI enables teenagers to experience campus life and get a preview of transportation-related studies at accredited colleges and universities. All are welcome to apply, with a focus on underserved students, including minorities, women, socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, at-risk youth, and students with disabilities.

Introducing Transportation Opportunities

Daniel Davalos knew little about the transportation field, but he was intrigued when his high school engineering teacher distributed flyers on NSTI because it offered hands-on experience in STEM.

“I applied to this program because it would help me focus my education and career decisions in the STEM disciplines,” he says.

In addition to inspiring Davalos to study electrical engineering at California State University, Los Angeles, the NSTI session he attended in 2014 gave him insight into the types of careers people could have in transportation. As a result, he says, “I am planning to use my knowledge in electrical engineering in the transportation industry.”

Over the years, NSTI has benefited more than 25,000 students. In 2017, 1,446 students, including 21 with disabilities, attended programs at 62 host sites in 48 States.

To broaden access to the NSTI experience, FHWA instituted an exchange program in 2012 for students living in U.S. territories. The pilot program enabled four students to travel to the U.S. mainland to stay on a college campus and participate in a session. By 2018, about 40 students from U.S. territories had attended NSTI sessions, an average of 8 to 10 students per year.

Each year, State departments of transportation ask accredited colleges and universities (potential NSTI host sites) to develop proposals for NSTI programs on their campuses that meet FHWA’s curriculum guidelines. State DOTs recommend one or more applications from potential NSTI host sites to their State’s FHWA division, which reviews the applications and provides feedback and assistance on the proposed programs.

Providing Hands-On Experience

A typical NSTI program lasts 2 to 4 weeks. Host institutions offer day or residential programs that include room and board for students. Each institution targets its program to students in either high school or middle school. High school programs emphasize activities to improve STEM skills, prepare participants for post-secondary education, and encourage them to pursue transportation-related careers. Middle school programs focus on career exploration.

Designed to provide a stimulating introduction to the transportation industry and career opportunities, typical NSTI programs feature exposure to land, air, and water transportation modes, as well as safety. The curriculum includes an introduction to each transportation mode taught by college or university instructors, presentations from industry professionals, and field trips to transportation and transit facilities and government agencies. Students also learn from hands-on activities, such as laboratory exercises, computer programming tasks, and competitions to design bridges, gliders, solar cars, or mass transit projects.

Land transportation topics included in a typical program include highway design, transportation planning, traffic signal timing, transportation logistics, and public transit. Water transportation covers topics such as deep sea freight and passenger transportation, intercoastal waterways, towing and tugboat services, and marine cargo handling. Air transportation focuses on flight theories, aircraft performance, flight instruments, and air navigation. Safety is an integral part of the curriculum, including safe transportation infrastructure; improving safety and communication; analyzing and forecasting safety trends; and pedestrian, bicycle, vehicle, and air travel safety.

Programs also introduce methods and activities that improve study habits, promote academic achievement, and foster self-awareness. Topics include time management, critical thinking, problem solving, research techniques, and internet and library use, as well as preparation for standardized college admission tests. Students learn teamwork and sportsmanship through sports and recreation activities.

Partnership Takes Flight

Some host institutions partner with the National Flight Academy in Pensacola, FL, which offers an immersive program to inspire students to pursue STEM studies and careers. At the conclusion of their campus programs, these host institutions select students to attend a weeklong course at the academy, where they live in a simulated aircraft carrier environment and get hands-on experience learning about flight control, aircraft safety, piloting, and other technical operations associated with aviation.

Each day, academy students participate in “missions” that challenge their mental agility, preparedness, and communication skills while demonstrating the value of teamwork and goal completion. Through simulator experience and role play, students learn firsthand how those in naval aviation respond to real-life situations and emergencies. At the end of the week, students participate in a graduation ceremony to celebrate their accomplishments.

Student Perspectives On NSTI

Many former participants in NSTI programs consider their experience as key to their decision to pursue STEM-related studies in college and apply their education in the transportation and engineering fields. Many also express appreciation for the opportunity to get a taste of life on a college campus.

Dr. Makoloa Abdullah. Dr. Abdullah, Virginia State University president, was a junior in high school when his mother told him about the NSTI program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “She thought it was a program I should be a part of. We all know mothers know best,” he says.

“I applied because I thought it would be wonderful to have the experience of staying on a college campus while still being a high school student. It provided me with the opportunity to spread my wings,” Abdullah says. “Most importantly, I had a strong interest in the STEM field, particularly in engineering.”

After interning the following summer at the Illinois Department of Transportation, Abdullah earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Howard University and master’s and doctorate degrees in civil engineering from Northwestern University. Early in his career, he worked at a civil engineering firm in Chicago. Later, he served as a college professor, dean of engineering, and university provost.

Read the full article on FHWA Public Roads Magazine

Now Available Minority Serving Institutions: America’s Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce

This report provides evidence-based conclusions and multi-stakeholder recommendations to help create and support the necessary conditions, systems, policies, and practices to bolster the STEM education and workforce outcomes for millions of MSI students across the nation. Importantly, the educational outcomes and STEM readiness of students of color will have direct implications for American’s economic growth, national security, and global prosperity.

The recommendations of this report are offered as guideposts for Congress, federal agencies, state leaders, tribal nations, business and industry leaders, association and nongovernmental organization leaders, and higher education faculty and administrators across the nation to help promote progress.

For access to the report, click here.