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5 Helpful Tips When Attending a Transportation Conference

By Ideas Lab Staff January 21, 2013

Last week the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting and Transforming Transportation wrapped, and thousands of people in Washington D.C. parted ways with new visions and ideas for the future of transportation. Here are five tips to think about when attending your next transportation conference.

1.     Use a glossary of key transportation terms. From BRT to CBD, transportation-speak uses a variety of acronyms and terms. In order to talk about transportation and fully understand the issues panelists are addressing, you’ll need to know these terms. The event program might have a glossary of terms; otherwise we recommend having the browser ready on your phone until you fully learn transportation vernacular.

2.    If you are bilingual, get ready to utilize that second language. Transportation is an issue that affects cities all over the world, and experts on the issue hale from Latin America, Europe and beyond. To get the most out of a conference, you want to be able to interact with a host of people attending, and this may require speaking another French, Spanish or Japanese.

3.     Bring a digital audio recorder. Note-taking at transportation conferences may not be the best route, considering  it can be difficult to truncate thoughts about these complex issues. Bring along a digital audio recorder so you can review the sessions you attend.

4.     Take the key presentations home with you. Getting a grasp on transportation is only possible when the geography and traffic patterns of the city are available. After the panel has finished, be sure to ask if you can put the speakers’ slides on your flash drive so you can go over them later.

5.     Zeal even after the conference ends to take on big challenges with big ideas. Transportation affects health, education, the economy and the environment. There is no “one-size fits all” solution for cities, and it requires endless creativity, collaboration and determination to make progress on these issues. You’ll feel inspired when you’re at the conference, but remember to carry that excitement back to your work on and advocate for the projects that matter.