MPO Internship Program

The Nashville Area MPO works with area universities to provide internship opportunities for students and other professionals looking to gain experience in transportation planning and policy. The MPO benefits from working with individuals with a variety of backgrounds, including fields such as community development, public policy, engineering, computer programming, architecture, business, urban design, and public health. MPO interns bring a fresh perspective and skillset to the MPO, where they have opportunity to work on real projects such as corridor studies, GIS analysis, Health Impact Assessments, economic impact analysis, urban design and policy briefs. MPO interns are encouraged to participate in meetings, work alongside staff and present their work to stakeholders and the public.

The MPO keeps an ongoing list of internship opportunities, and when funding is available, may be able to provide a stipend. Interns typically work for a period of six months to two years, depending on university program requirements and the timeframe of the chosen projects. If you are interested in interning with the MPO, please contact Michael Skipper, Executive Director, at skipper@nashvillempo.org.

Current Interns

Hannah Plummer
MPO Policy Intern

 

Hannah joined the MPO after completing an intership with Cumberland Region Tomorrow (CRT) where she coordinated the Climate Solutions University process for CRT. As part of the MPO's policy team she has continued that work providing research and writing support for the development of a regional climate adaption plan.

She is a graduate of Lawrence University where she recevied her B.A. in Environmental Studies.

Former Interns

Nick Koupal
Geographic Techniques (GIS)
Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU)

Nick comes from Franklin, TN where he currently lives with his wife, Olivia. Nick has lived in the Greater Nashville area since the early 2000's and grew up living in different areas of this region. He graduated from Franklin High School in 2008 and attended Columbia State Community College (CSCC) where he then transferred to MTSU and is now finishing his degree. Nick is majoring in Geographic Techniques and minoring in Anthropology and Geology. During his first year at MTSU, Nick preceded over two different clubs, Geography Club and Humans in Crisis of MTSU. Activities with these clubs included a trip to New York City in the spring of 2012 for the Annual Meeting of Association American of Geographers (AAG), where Nick gave a presentation on how communities in Middle Tennessee help abused women and children in Nepal through the sale of Maheela scarves.

In GIS pertaining to work, Nick recently ended a year-long internship with the City of Franklin's GIS Department. Some of Nick's work included the development of the Water Department's GIS and Asset Management data. This included updating preexisting data, GPSing new data that had not been recorded and rectifying data that had been submitted for approval. Another integral role that was filled during his internship was updating plat boundaries and easements that had been submitted to the City within the past 40+ years. Performing a well-rounded list of activities his achievements and developments could have not been possible without the support of coworkers and the team atmosphere that he encountered at the City.

Some goals that Nick is trying to achieve while working at the MPO is to attain an ever-growing knowledge of GIS and how that data is seamlessly integrated into the bigger picture of a community. Nick is also looking to understand the role of MPOs and how the work is joined into surrounding local government and communities. By interning for the MPO Nick is trying gain a skill set that will allow him to be a diverse employee that can use the various applications of GIS.

Life after the MPO:

After graduating MTSU, Nick worked full time as a GIS analyst for the Nashville MPO before moving to Portland, Oregon in early 2014.

Benjamin Jelsma
Bachelor of Arts
University of British Columbia

Benjamin is a Nashville native who graduated from University School of Nashville in 2010. He is currently pursuing his B.A. in Honors Geography and Spanish at the University of British Columbia-Vancouver. While his degree is primarily focused on city planning and urban development, he has been very involved in issues surrounding cross-cultural communication and social justice on campus.

Last summer he combined his academic and extracurricular interests to understand how certain variables affect Nashville citizens' access to city resources. His report focuses on the intersection between housing and private development in relation to transportation networks, but will also include availability of community facilities for public services like education and healthcare. Also, he assisted Sonia on the region's second Health Impact Assessment (HIA).

Sonia Sequeira
Masters in Social Work
Masters in Public Health

Washington University in St. Louis

Sonia is a Colorado native and graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri with a B.A. in International Studies and Spanish. Prior to coming to the MPO, Sonia worked on the evaluation team for Social Innovation for Missouri (SIM), an initiative that integrates obesity and tobacco prevention strategies. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Social Work and Masters in Public Health at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University. She is primarily interested in how the built environment impacts urban health disparities and sustainability.

Sonia worked on the region's second Health Impact Assessment (HIA). The HIA focuses on a proposed new school facility and will look at the impacts of the site placement on student health. Specifically, the HIA captures the potential positive and negative health impacts from existing and proposed transportation facilities and retail food environments surrounding the new school campus.

Bob Moreo
Master of Architecture
University of Detroit Mercy

Graduate Certificate in Economic Development
Wayne State University

Feb 2012 - May 2012
bob.moreo@gmail.com
LinkedIn

Bob Moreo came to Nashville from Detroit, Michigan in 2011. Before moving to Tennessee, Bob had worked for several years in the field of architecture, on projects ranging from single-family homes and townhomes to commercial and industrial buildings. Having grown up a witness to the economic struggles of the city of Detroit, Bob began to shift his focus from individual architectural design to pursue a broader education in urban planning, public policy and economic development. It is Bob's philosophy that these disciplines are interconnected and essential to developing and sustaining a high quality of life for all citizens.

As an Intern with the MPO, Bob assisted in data collection efforts and GIS management on a variety of projects. He also looked at parking management practices in the region and the impact that parking has on the built environment.

Bob is a member of the Middle Tennessee chapter of the US Green Building Council, as well as the Tennessee chapter of the American Planning Association. He and his family live in Franklin. Bob is involved there with the Hard Bargain Association - a non-profit dedicated to the restoration and preservation of Hard Bargain, an historic African American neighborhood near downtown Franklin.

Life after the MPO:

Bob is now a research associate at the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) which provides research to the Tennessee General Assembly.

Eric Howell
Geographic Information Systems
American Sentinel University
Feb 2009 - May 2011
erichowell85@aol.com
LinkedIn

Eric is native to the area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Following high school graduation, he has striven to learn about how an information system can better assist in the streamlining processes of making geographic-based critical decision-making. With completion of Associates degree in GIS, he would like to assist local governments in the planning process through the use of GIS-driven solutions.

During his time with the MPO, he provided assistance with administering monthly committee meetings, regional summits and symposiums. He also performed data collection and analysis supporting multiple MPO studies including Nashville's Walk to School Day signature event, regional bicycle and pedestrian count program and input of machine vehicle classification counts.

Specific to GIS, Eric provided assistance with the coding and modeling for transportation studies and the 2035 RTP. He mapped survey responses for a regional bicycle and pedestrian survey. Eric helped to geocode bicycle, pedestrian, and commercial vehicle crashes throughout the state of Tennessee. From his experience with the MPO, Eric obtained a foundational knowledge, through work projects and formal training, understanding how the four step travel demand forecasting process functions.

Life after the MPO:

Eric and his wife returned from the Northwest this past fall from a summer long committed internship. Since then, he has completed his Associates degree in GIS. He will be attending TSU in the fall of 2012 to pursue a degree in Urban Studies with a concentration on Urban Planning.

Laura Stamm Wagner
Masters of Education, graduated May 2011
Community Development & Action Program
Peabody College at Vanderbilt University
Sept 2009 - May 2011
lwagner@geears.org

Laura worked with Emily Stewart to research the impacts of the built environment on public health, the immerging field of Health Impact Assessments and conducted the first Health Impact Assessment (HIA) in Tennessee. The project looked at the potential positive and negative health impacts of a proposed Transit Oriented Development in Madison, TN. The project includes a proposed transit station that would serve users of the Northeast corridor between Davidson and Sumner counties. The HIA proposed providing a full-service grocery store, a community gathering space, public art, a community garden and other amenities to complement proposed elements such as senior adult living units, retail and a walking trail that would improve the health of both residents and transit users. The project included collaboration with architecture students from the University of Tennessee on the conceptual designs and business students from the Owen School of Business at Vanderbilt University on the financing and feasibility studies.

Laura graduated from Clemson University with a B.A. in Communication Studies and History. After graduating, she worked for a non-profit blood bank in Greenville, South Carolina. As part of her job, she would visit rural communities within the upstate region of South Carolina and was continually made more aware of general issues of access and health discrepancies, which in turn seemed to affect lifestyle outcomes. This awareness and concern spurred a personal interest to return to school.

Laura then enrolled in the Community Development and Action (M.Ed.) program at Vanderbilt's Peabody College with an interest in the connection between the built environment (i.e. roads, sidewalks, access to transit) and personal health. The focus of her internship at the MPO allowed her to explore viable systemic change with regard to creating healthier communities.

Life after the MPO:

Laura now serves as the Manager of Research and Special Projects at the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students (GEEARS). Her job duties include compiling data from Georgia's systems of Early Care and Learning and leveraging appropriate information for GEEARS advocacy efforts.

Emily Stewart
Masters of Education, graduated May 2011
Community Development & Action Program
Peabody College at Vanderbilt University
Sept 2009 - May 2010
emily.d.stewart@gmail.com

Emily interned at the MPO as a graduate student in the Community Development and Action program at Vanderbilt's Peabody College. Emily worked with Laura Stamm Wagner to research the impacts of the built environment on public health, the immerging field of Health Impact Assessments and conducted the first Health Impact Assessment (HIA) in Tennessee. The project looked at the potential positive and negative health impacts of a proposed Transit Oriented Development in Madison, TN. The project includes a proposed transit station that would serve users of the Northeast corridor between Davidson and Sumner counties. The HIA proposed providing a full-service grocery store, a community gathering space, public art, a community garden and other amenities to complement proposed elements such as senior adult living units, retail and a walking trail that would improve the health of both residents and transit users. The project included collaboration with architecture students from the University of Tennessee on the conceptual designs and business students from the Owen School of Business at Vanderbilt University on the financing and feasibility studies.

Emily is a native Nashvillian and attended Grinnell College in Iowa for her undergraduate work. She returned to Nashville in 2008 to take a position with Room In The Inn, a day center and shelter for the homeless. Her work with volunteers and participants steered her in the direction of social justice and the CDA graduate program at Peabody.

Emily is primarily interested in poverty issues, community health initiatives, and food sustainability. Her work at the MPO allowed her to explore how the built environment impacts community health and combats access issues to marginalized populations.

Life after the MPO:

Emily now works as the Lead Community Organizer for the Niagara Organizing Alliance for Hope (NOAH) in Niagara Falls, New York.

Andrew Jacobs
Masters of Public Policy, graduated May 2010
Peabody College at Vanderbilt University
Aug 2009 - May 2010
djacobs@edtrustmidwest.org

Drew Jacobs interned with the MPO as a graduate student in the Masters of Public Policy program at Vanderbilt's Peabody College, with a focus on education policy. Drew researched the issues around school siting, which is the decision-making process of planning and building new schools in communities. Drew also planned the state's first summit on school siting, which was held in Nashville at the Martin Professional Development Center in January of 2010. Drew authored a policy analysis of the current school siting practices in the MPO region and offered suggestions for how new schools could be coordinated with the residential development and transportation facilities to promote community-centered and walkable schools.

Prior to joining the MPO, Drew taught world geography at LaVilla School of the Arts in Jacksonville, Florida, where he was involved in curriculum development. A Royal Oak, Michigan native, Drew holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in social studies education with a focus on urban and under-resourced education.

Life after the MPO:

After leaving the MPO, Drew served as the State Network Organizer for Tennessee's Safe Routes to School program. The Network was sponsored by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and funded through a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Drew currently works as the Data and Policy Analyst for The Education Trust-Midwest and is based in Royal Oak, Michigan. His duties include working with teachers unions, government, non-profit organizations, and faith communities to improve the educational experience of public school students.

Teresa Epley
Logistics Management Program
Volunteer State Community College
Jan 2010 - May 2010
epleyteresa@yahoo.com

Teresa interned at the MPO as a student of the Logistics Management program at Volunteer State Community College. She had been an entrepreneur for twenty years owning four relocation companies in Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. While at the MPO, Teresa developed and conducted a survey of trucking behaviors. The pupose was to inform planners how truck drivers gather and react to roadway information, such as routing and road closures.

Life after the MPO:

Since interning with MPO,Teresa has participated in a study abroad program to Segovia, Spain through TnCIS program. She has received both an A.A.S. in Business Administration and a Technical Certification in Supply Chain & Logistics Management from Volunteer State Community College.During her time at VSCC, she recieved the 2010 Business Division Outstanding Student Award, the Hal R. Ramer award, and was the President of Kappa Beta Delta (honor society for business students).

After graduating from VSCC, Teresa transferred to Middle Tennessee State University in the fall of 2010. She is working towards a B.A. in Global Studies concentration in globalization and culture with a minor in Leadership. She is planning to graduate in May of 2012. Teresa is a member of the Honor Society of PHI KAPPA PHI member of ISM a professional networking group of Nashville. In March, she plans on participating in her third study abroad to Costa Rica to study Cultural Ecology.

for more information

Michael Skipper, AICP
Executive Director
615-862-7204
skipper@nashvillempo.org

Previous interns

Valerie Kamgue (2014-2015)
Sam Williams (2013-2015)
Wesley Rhodes (2013-2014)
Nick Koupal (2013-2013)
Benjamin Jelsma (2012-2012)
Sonia Sequeira (2012-2012)
Bob Moreo (2012-2012)
Eric Howell (2009-2011)
Laura Stamm Wagner (2009-2011)
Emily Stewart (2009-2011)
Andrew Jacobs (2009-2010)
Teresa Epley (2010-2010)

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