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The competition team posing on their way to the 2012 Midwestern District Meeting.

KU Student Group Wins MOVITE "Best Chapter" Award

by Aaron Mack and Paul Callahan

The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) student chapter at the University of Kansas once again proved that they have what it takes by winning the Missouri Valley Institute of Transportation Engineers (MOVITE) 2012 “Best Chapter” award for the third time since reorganizing in 2007.

The six state region of MOVITE includes Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. In the yearly competition for best student chapter, points are scored based on the student chapters’ annual reports, which describe in detail each chapter’s activities over the past year. Points are awarded for both the quantity and quality of meetings, interactions with other chapters, MOVITE-level participation at conferences, and participation in the international ITE conference.

The KU team competing at the Midwestern District Meeting in Chicago, June 2012.

The Midwestern District Meeting had a Jeopardy-style format.

The winning chapter receives a $300 award to be used for the funding of future activities. KU has had an ITE chapter since 1974, but by 2006 it was considered “dormant,” having no members. Drs. Thomas Mulinazzi, former MATC Associate Director, and Steven Schrock, MATC Associate Director, jumpstarted the group in 2007 with the support of MATC. Dr. Schrock recalls that the reformed group started with just a handful of graduate students, but that in a short time it had held elections, planned meetings, and become a fully active chapter again.

Currently, the KU chapter counts between 30 and 40 students in attendance at each meeting. The group is composed of approximately 25% graduate and 75% undergraduate students.

”I’m pleased that the [ITE] student chapter has blossomed from three students in 2007 to a chapter of 30-plus in such a short time,” Schrock said. “The chapter serves as a focal point for students to learn about the various areas of transportation, and to get information about employment opportunities and graduate school. Taken as a whole, the student chapter is a major part of a renewed interest in transportation engineering at KU.”

MATC supplements the chapter’s funding with an education grant that helps the chapter avoid dues, and also pays for travel to section and district conferences, which are held in cities around the region. This funding helps the chapter secure points, but more importantly, it also improves the quality of the chapter’s meetings. For example, the ITE chapter at KU used a portion of the education grant to cover the travel expenses of Dr. Leonard Evans, author of the textbook “Traffic Safety,” when they invited him to speak at a student chapter meeting during his recent visit to KU.

“We’d be hard-pressed to be doing anything if we didn’t have the education grant from MATC,” said Schrock.