About me

Having spent time working within a Metropolitan Planning Organization environment, it was then when I discovered my passion for transportation-related issues. Integrating a Geographic Information System map into a plan and study to serve as a communicator to the public about the issues we face as a society has been an eye-opening experience for me. During the past couple years, I have grown in curiosity to develop an understanding of how to become a researcher within an academic institution; to become influential in the development of new knowledge within the field of transportation as my current and one of my ultimate goals in life.

Currently, the research project I am involved in looks at understanding why varying historical methods have not proven to be as successful in communicating to and involving the citizens and stakeholders in the planning process within the Tennessee Department of Transportation's Long Range Planning process. Upon the research gaining this understanding, it will seek to identify how innovative and context-sensitive strategies, methods and tools can be infused within this Department of Transportation's public outreach and involvement efforts/plans; to better guarantee that public influence is interwoven into the fabric-of-thought of transportation experts and officials and its products of success.

Aside from serving as a student researcher, I also am becoming engaged in the conversations as a student. I am becoming familiar with the multidimensional nature of urban life and the governance of urban communities. Learning how to identify and analyze, derived from the approach of urban management and the integration of geospatial information systems, the varying urban issues from the perspectives of several disciplines including sociology, history, political science, geography and economics. 

Being an active student member of the American Planning Association and serving as a board member of the Young Professionals in Transportation Nashville Chapter has opened doors for opportunities by creating new friendships, the exchange of professional conversations and for an acquirement for new knowledge in the field of transportation within urban environments and ultimately gaining a fresh perspective and appreciation of transportation-related issues. I have been invited to serve as the Social Media Coordinator for the Tennessee Chapter of the American Planning Association as well as the Webinar Manager for the Transportation Planning Division of the American Planning Association. If you or someone you know who may be interested in serving as a speaker for one of our Transportation Planning Division webinars, please reach out to me via LinkedIn private message or erichowell85@aol.com.

To learn more about my current volunteer involvement feel free to stop by my LinkedIn profile! I'd love to connect!

"I do what I love, I love what I do."

My interests

Enjoy listening to Smooth Jazz music, drinking coffee, cross-country road trips, reading topics related to Transportation (...especially from articles and blogs!!), skylines, neighborhood names fascinate me. Bowling is my favorite sport and I am a huge Seattle Seahawks and Boston Red Sox fan! Because of my passion for transportation and understanding the importance between connecting with other students with similar passions, I enjoy serving on the Nashville Chapter Board of Directors as the Vice Chair for Collegiates for the professional group Young Professionals in Transportation!

Education

Education
Aug 2012 - Present

Bachelors of Science, Urban Studies (Online Program)

Tennessee State University

The B.S. Urban Studies program is preparing me to gain the following skill sets and abilities:

  • Critical thinking, analytic, and problem solving tools;
  • Management, leadership, and organizational development principles and practices; 
  • A basic understanding of public administration and public policy;
  • Research and data analysis skills, including the ability to apply social science research methodology in framing basic research questions, identifying data sources, collecting, preparing, analyzing and interpreting data on urban issues; 
  • Introduction to sociological, political science, economic and geographical influences on urban phenomena;
  • An understanding of the processes associated with urban planning, urban governance, and urban institutions; 
  • Apply knowledge of social science research methodology to the use of statistical and other software applications for land, resource, and urban policy analysis; 
  • Use the tools of sociology, political science, history, economics and geography to identify and critically analyze complex urban phenomenon, such as segregation, unemployment, urban decay, urban renewal & redevelopment; 
  • Identify and critically analyze the interconnections between issues in different urban policy domains and the implications of these issues for people who live and work in the city; 
  • Identify and critically discuss the intended and unintended effects of policy measures designed to address urban problems, and the implications of these effects for future urban policy and planning; 
  • Present ideas and information clearly and effectively, both orally and in writing in describing and critically evaluating contemporary urban issues, theories, and policies; 
  • Foundation leadership and interpersonal skills for urban professionals
Jul 2010 - May 2012

Associate of Science, Geographic Information Systems

American Sentinel University

 The A.S. Geographic Information Systems program prepared me to gain the following skill sets and abilities:

  • Design maps to communicate information about spatial patterns;
  • Interpret information from maps and other visual presentations of abstract geographic information;
  • Acquire GIS data from a variety of sources;
  • Utilize GIS software to store and manage spatial data;
  • Design and implement GIS solutions for problems in a variety of fields

Recognition:

Dean's Award;

Magna Cum Laude;

Nominated and chosen by the Student Success team to be recognized in the University’s newsletter, The Sentinel, for academic successes and student integrity.

Work History

Work History
Mar 2015 - Present

Transit Intern

Transportation Management Association Group | Franklin Transit Authority

Assist with multimodal transportation operations through ensuring ADA compliance of public transit services, assisting in the management of vanpool operations, provide support to the long-range transportation planning process, and the execution of various tasks to facilitate long-term transit growth and progress in Franklin and the Middle Tennessee area.

Feb 2014 - Jul 2015

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Tennessee State University
Grant: “Innovative Strategies for Public Involvement” sponsored by the Tennessee Department of Transportation awarded 2013 Collaborating with the Principal Investigator (PI), Kimberly L. Triplett, Ph.D., M.P.A. of Tennessee State University and Co-Principal Investigators (Co-PI’s), Stephanie Ivey, PhD. and Larry Moore, P.E., PhD. as well as Graduate Research Assistant Jim Mersereau, E.I. of the University of Memphis to develop sound approaches by gaining greater public participation in the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s planning and decision-making process. These approaches will represent that of a best-practice document for their Long Range Planning Division and how it will assist with their public participation as part of the 25-Year Long Range Plan. Providing administrative, technical and research assistance. Responsibilities include:
  • Assist PI and Co-PI’s with grant administration, including scheduling and coordinating grant activities;
  • Assist PI and Co-PI’s in gathering and compiling information for grant related activities, including reporting;
  • Maintain and update accurate administrative project data in Departmental databases established for data gathering and reporting;
  • Collect and deliver paperwork and other grant-related materials to relevant parties as required;
  • Assist PI and Co-PI’s with developing and distributing recruitment and public service announcements and recruiting stakeholders to participate in grant activities;
  • Collaborate with PI and Co-PI’s with other grant activities as assigned on all assignments and assist in tracking grant activities review of reporting for accuracy and completion

To view press release, click here.

Oct 2010 - May 2011

Transportation Planning Technician

Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization

Assisted with transportation planning issues at local and regional levels through Research and Analysis, as well as Geographic Information Systems...

  • Provided assistance with administering monthly committee meetings, regional summits & symposiums;
  • Performed data collection & analysis supporting multiple MPO studies;
  • Provided assistance with the coding and modeling for transportation studies & the 2035 Regional Transportation Plan;
  • Mapped survey responses for a regional bicycle & pedestrian survey;
  • Helped to geocode bicycle, pedestrian & commercial vehicle crashes throughout the state of Tennessee;
  • Obtained a foundational knowledge, through work projects & formal training, understanding how the Four Step Travel Demand Forecasting process functions

The 2035 Regional Transportation Plan received the National Transportation Planning Excellence Award and the Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Study received the National Best Project Award and Grand Award

Feb 2009 - Oct 2010

Transportation Planning Intern

Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization

Assisted with transportation planning issues at local and regional levels through Research and Analysis, as well as Geographic Information Systems...

  • Provided assistance with administering monthly committee meetings, regional summits & symposiums;
  • Performed data collection & analysis supporting multiple MPO studies;
  • Provided assistance with the coding and modeling for transportation studies & the 2035 Regional Transportation Plan;
  • Mapped survey responses for a regional bicycle & pedestrian survey;
  • Helped to geocode bicycle, pedestrian & commercial vehicle crashes throughout the state of Tennessee;
  • Obtained a foundational knowledge, through work projects & formal training, understanding how the Four Step Travel Demand Forecasting process functions
Jan 2009 - Feb 2009

GIS Intern

Metropolitan Nashville-Davidson County Planning Department - GIS Division

Assisted the GIS office through Research and Analysis as well as Geographic Information Systems...

  • Catalog-building of geographic data, exploring and adding data to a map, and managing data sets;
  • Assisted in resolving and troubleshooting basic GIS-related problems;
  • Data collection and data entry;
  • Research

Skills

Skills

Community Development

Provided administrative and technical assistance to the following: Researched projects that have been implemented via Private, Public, and Community Sectors for the purpose of presenting to a civic leaders training session supporting Nashville's general plan, NashvilleNext. Gathered community input and data entry   

Research

Provided research in various disciplines ranging from housing to transportation, from GIS to urban studies and planning topics. Engaged in applied research work focused in identifying innovative strategies and methods that can be implemented within a public involvement plan for a department of transportation's long range transportation plan.

Data Analysis (Qualitative/Quantitative)

Provided analysis work in various disciplines ranging from transportation planning studies/projects to academic projects, from community development to GIS projects. Have assisted in the analysis of transportation-related projects within a metropolitan planning organization, a metropolitan planning agency and in academia.

Regional Planning

Provided administrative and technical assistance to the following Regional Planning elements: Bicycle & Pedestrian Planning; Freight Movement Planning; Land Use & Urban Design; Roadway Planning  

Geographic Information Systems/Modeling

Provided administrative and technical assistance to the following: Mapped survey responses for a regional bicycle & pedestrian survey; Geocoded bicycle, pedestrian & commercial vehicle crashes throughout the state of Tennessee; Obtained a foundation knowledge, through work projects & formal training, understanding how the Four Step Travel Demand Forecasting process functions (a TransCAD Classroom Training by Caliper); Catalog-building of geographic data, exploring and adding data to a map, and managing data sets; Provided assistance with the coding and modeling for transportation studies & the 2035 Regional Transportation Plan  

Transportation Planning

Provided administrative and technical assistance to the following: Long-Range Plan & Regional Model: Development of 2035 Regional Transportation Plan draft/final document; Developing short-, mid-, and long-range financial forecasts of local, state, and federal revenues and LRTP (Long Range Transportation Plan) expenditures; Developed and calibrated regional planning models including the regional travel demand model and land use allocation model Multi-Modal Planning: Safe Routes to School initiative; Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Study for the 2035 Regional Transportation Plan; Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Counts; Phase II of the Regional Freight and Goods Movement Study; Regional transit needs assessment findings; Nashville Area School Siting Symposium; Nashville Area Complete Streets Symposium & Workshop; Strategic Highway Safety Plan - Bicycle and Pedestrian Component; Road Safety Audit Reviews Data Collection and Analysis: Annual traffic counts at four permanent and 365 annual cycle stations plus 283 additional counts on interstate ramps. Collected special count data for design projects as required;  Coded and filed accident data from the Tennessee Department of Safety. Complied high hazard accident data for safety studies as needed (Regional Crash Data/ Safety Analysis); Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Counts Public Participation: Public meetings and hearing prior to the adoption of the Long Range Plan, FY 2011-2014 TIP (Transportation Improvement Program) and other major planning documents; Conduct public outreach for the development of the 2035 Regional Transportation Plan Regional Studies: Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Bicycle and Pedestrian Study 2009 Nashville Regional Freight & Goods Movement Study Phase II.