Sacramento, Stockton TES sessions help fill professional development gap

June 21, 2012

Oakland, San Francisco, and other major cities in the Bay Area have no shortage of professional development opportunities for those in the transportation engineering and planning field. "Outlying areas such as Sacramento and Stockton traditionally have not had as many options," says Kamala Parks, a senior planner in Kittelson & Associates, Inc.’s Oakland office.

Recent events are changing that, however. Senanu Ashiabor from the Oakland office helped organize the office's first Transportation Education Series (TES) session in April on traffic signal timing. TES is a series of presentations sponsored by KAI that focus on a variety of topics related to transportation engineering and planning. Senanu said he was pleasantly surprised at the level of interest it generated, even from agencies outside the immediate San Francisco Bay Area. City of Sacramento staff were even willing to drive two hours to Oakland to attend the session, which started at 8am! Realizing their interest, presenters Tom Urbanik and Kevin Lee instead drove to Sacramento to present a second time at the City's offices. Staff from nearby counties were also invited and had the opportunity to meet with Tom and Kevin.

“It seems like in the immediate Bay Area, there are a lot of these types of things where people can learn about what’s going on in the industry," Kamala says, "but there is a real starvation in places like Stockton and Sacramento. Even out in Contra Costa County they don’t have access to as much professional development, so they are very appreciative of it as well.”

The TES sessions provide an opportunity for participants to hear an array of perspectives from different parts of the country. The second Oakland TES session was on multimodal level of service and context-sensitive design targeted at the Sacramento Area Council of Governments. The Sacramento office offered a session that highlighted context-sensitive design solutions for rural communities presented by KAI’s Yolanda Takesian, Erin Ferguson, and Brian Ray. Yolanda works from KAI’s Baltimore office, while Erin and Brian are based in the Portland office.

“The interesting thing for me is learning how to listen a little better to what people want, and knowing that we have the tools to help them become more informed about something. Being able to bring Kittelson people here from other places is very helpful,” Kamala says.

The sessions have drawn anywhere from 10-25 participants and, as word spreads about them, Kamala and Senanu see even greater demand for local TES events.

”I think the biggest experience for me has been to see how much respect the public agencies around here have for the whole concept. Some people have questions about the level of detail, but they have all liked the idea of having a forum like this,” Senanu says.

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