Portland State student entrepreneur creates app to make parking easier

Omar Waked is the co-founder and CEO of Raedam, a technology-fueld parking solution that helps drivers find an available spot more quickly. Raedam was created with the help of CUBE, a four-month-long PSU program that helps students turn prototypes into reality, preparing them to launch their product.
Photo by Patric Simon

For student-entrepreneur Omar Waked, being late to a chemistry final his freshman year sparked an idea that would later become the foundation for his business.

Waked is a senior at Portland State University majoring in Civil Engineering and the co-founder and CEO of Raedam, a technology-fueled parking solution that helps drivers find an available spot more quickly. The day he almost missed his final, not being able to find a parking spot for 30 minutes was frustrating, and Waked knew he was not alone in experiencing this. That’s when he decided to do something about it and developed the idea for Raedam.

Here’s how Waked explains Raedam: “It provides scalable hardware that collects real-time data, paired with our mobile app that helps individuals streamline and automate tasks such as guidance to parking and automating payments.”

Raedam was created through the help of PSU’s Cube Program. The Cube is a four-month-long program that helps students turn their prototypes into reality, preparing them for launch by the end of the program. Currently, Raedam is in development. “We are testing a new method of acquiring real-time data in a far more scalable form than we previously worked on. We have an IOS mobile app for individuals to use to be guided to available parking and payments for supported locations,” Waked said.

We asked Omar about his business and experience at PSU.

“The CUBE should be the first place you look to for support, help, or guidance as a student entrepreneur.”


How did The Cube program help you?

“The CUBE has provided a foundation for support and guidance in my entrepreneurship journey. Access to mentors with experience in various industries, a group of other student entrepreneurs to connect and learn alongside, as well as the information shared through credible and knowledgeable in the subjects have provided for a more supportive and effective journey.”

What is some advice you can offer to other student entrepreneurs?

“Anyone who plans to pursue the route of entrepreneurship needs to have conviction in what they are doing. You will be faced with rejection throughout your journey, and unless you have the drive and conviction to see your ideas and dreams come into existence, you will be overburdened and eventually quit. It will not be fast nor easy, especially going at it alone. Find people who you enjoy working with, people who will support you and help you reach the finish line. The CUBE should be the first place you look to for support, help, or guidance as a student entrepreneur.”

What’s next?

“We are looking to bring on additional members to help with ramping up our developments. We plan to deploy our hardware this year at various locations and begin gathering feedback from individuals and businesses to fine-tune our products and services to provide the best experience possible as we expand.”

“I would like individuals to spend more of their time on things that matter
and I can assure you, parking is not on that list.”


Waked anticipates graduating later this year and plans to continue to develop and expand Raedam beyond Portland. “I would like individuals to spend more of their time on things that matter and I can assure you, parking is not on that list,” Waked explained.

Visit the Cube webpage to learn more, or find out more about Raedam.

— Autumn Barber

This is one in a series of profiles about students in the Cube program, a four-month intensive course that is designed to prepare student entrepreneurs for launch and go-to-market for their companies.

PSU senior capstone tour highlights Portland’s Black women activists and leaders

Golden West Hotel

This Black History Month, we were inspired by a Portland heritage tour of African American women activists and community leaders from 1900-1940, created by a University Studies Monumental Women senior capstone back in 2014. Each of these stops around downtown Portland are rich with history:

Culture Club

The Culture Club was once the headquarters for a philanthropic African American’s women’s group.

The Culture Club, a philanthropic African American women’s group, once organized social events at this location, which is now home to The West End Ballroom,. 1220 SW Taylor St.

Golden West

This was the first hotel to accommodate African American patrons, providing services to railroad and hotel workers who were denied accommodations in white-only businesses. From 1906 through 1931, it served as a social center and focal point of the Black community. 707 NW Everett Ave.

Bethel A.M.E. Church

Bethel AME Church, Portland, Oregon, 1957
Courtesy City of Portland Archives

The oldest continuously operating Black church in Portland, the church has served as a place of worship and a social center for its members — a place for race relation discussions, civil rights activism, and cultural performances of visiting artists and musicians. 5828 NE 8th Ave.

Mt. Olivet First Baptist Church

Mt. Olivet First Baptist Church
Photo: http://intisarabioto.com

Though the congregation has since moved to a larger space, Mt. Olivet has been a religious and social center for community members and was a location for meetings and rallies by civil rights groups and visiting leaders. Portland’s Colored Women’s Equal Suffrage Association held meetings here. 1734 NE 1st Ave.

Williams Avenue YWCA

Williams Avenue YWCA
Courtesy Multnomah County Library Archives

The Williams Ave. branch of the YWCA was established in 1921 at the insistence of African American women. It served the interests of their community through race-relation work, confidence building, and ethnic pride during a time of overt discrimination. Since 1959, it’s been home to the Billy Webbs Elks Lodge, an African American fraternal organization. 6 N Tillamook St.

NAACP Office & Federal Credit Union

Otto Rutherford (right) and his daughter Charlotte Rutherford, next to him, stand with members of the NAACP Credit Union, which was initially managed from the Rutherford’s home on Shaver Street in the Albina Neighborhood.

The Rutherford house is on the Oregon State Historic Preservation list.

Courtesy Multnomah County Library Archives

The Portland chapter of the NAACP, founded in 1914, helped repeal state exclusion laws in 1926 and 1927, established African American presence in labor unions, and worked to repeal discriminatory real estate codes and housing policies. The NAACP often met at the Williams Ave YMCA and the credit union operated out of the Rutherfords’ home for many years before moving to this location in 1964, where they remained for many decades.
2752 N Williams Ave.

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Clean Room, Calm Mind

By Claire Golden

Like many college students and recent graduates, I live in a small space. This means that even a small mess can quickly become overwhelming because it takes up most of my living quarters. I am naturally a messy person, much to the chagrin of everyone who has lived with me. (Shoutout to my younger sister for putting up with the Yarn Blob when we shared a room!) However, over the years I have discovered that having a messy room has a negative impact on my mental health.

When I’m feeling depressed, I lose motivation. That leads me to set things on the nearest horizontal surface, whether that’s the nightstand, table, or floor. Then my room becomes a Depression Den (as the Internet likes to call it), which causes me to feel even more depressed, and the spiral continues. I suffered from Major Depressive Disorder a few years back. Fortunately, now I only deal with seasonal winter depression, but I’ve found that both conditions lead to the same result. When my room is littered with clothes (both dirty and clean), books, papers, and things everywhere, it doesn’t help my mind feel any less like a disaster.

It feels impossible to clean up a Depression Den, so sometimes you might have to ask for help. I lived with my parents during college and my mom would offer to keep me company while I cleaned. This prevented me from getting distracted with various knick-knacks and books and also gave me some moral support. Now that I live with my boyfriend, we put on a documentary and clean together. If cleaning your whole room feels like it will never happen, then choose one area to tidy — I always feel better when the floor is picked up. Or, set a timer for a manageable amount of time. Even five minutes of cleaning is better than nothing.

Ideally, I would take a few minutes every day to tidy up, but my mind just doesn’t work like that. So I tidy when I feel capable, and create impossibly tall stacks of books when I don’t. I’m far from perfect, and the state of my room reflects that. In the end, you have to do what works best for you. But I encourage you to set aside a few minutes to care for yourself by making your living space calmer. It might just help brighten your mood, too.

A Wonderful Winter

by Beth Royston

I wrote a post previously on my favorite autumn activities (see: An Aspirational Autumn). I thought I’d continue the series by logging some of my favorite winter activities! It’s definitely been more of a secluded winter with the pandemic, but I’ve been pleased to find out that I can still carry out some of my plans. So without further ado, here are some of my best recommendations to carry you through these chilly months.

Check out the Portland Winter Light Festival!

Held every year in early February, the Winter Light Festival is a glorious assembly of light displays and art. It’s usually spread out through different locations in the city. This year, the Festival took the form of separate installations around the city. I unfortunately didn’t make it out to see the art this year, but I’ve gone in the past, and I absolutely recommend it! Check out their website linked here.

See Zoo Lights!

If you love going to the zoo, check it out in a new fashion with Zoo Lights! Held around the holiday season, this event at the Oregon Zoo takes place in the evening. While most of the animals are asleep, you can see brilliant and cute light displays, and the infamous tunnel of lights which is a worthy photo-op. They have many food carts still open, so you can still get a warm beverage and a snack. I definitely recommend checking it out at least once.

Venture out into the snow!

I was beyond thrilled to have snow this year on Valentine’s Day weekend. If you also enjoy the snow, I definitely recommend making the most of it! You can have a snowball fight, build a snowman, or simply take a lovely winter walk. My fiancee and I walked to our local park, found a hill, and tossed ourselves down it on our stomachs like penguins since we didn’t have sleds. It was so much fun, but be careful if you’re out in the snow not to slip! If you don’t have any good footwear, you can purchase snap-on treads for your shoes that will vastly increase your traction in the ice. 

Try taking a trip to the coast/sea lion caves

You may not find this enjoyable if you dislike winter weather, but if you don’t mind it, take a trip to the Oregon coast. During the off season, the beaches are pretty vacant, and hotel rates tend to be lower. My partner and I went in December, and we absolutely loved how quiet it was. The scenery at the beach was still gorgeous. Neither of us are huge sunning-yourself beach people anyway, so we didn’t mind at all. Also, consider heading down south to Florence to visit the sea lion caves, which are the largest sea caves in North America! Unfortunately, they closed this year due to the pandemic, but it’s a bucket list item of mine to go. The best time to go is during the winter, when the sea lions huddle inside the cave to stay warm.

However you spend your winter, I hope it’s safe, warm, and fun! 

A Portland Snow Day

By: Ragan Love

If there is one thing I miss from my home state, it would be the snow. Winter is my favorite season and I love bundling up and baking. I knew this was something that I wouldn’t experience in Portland and I was ready for a city that mainly rains.

My roommate who is from Portland would repeatedly say how it never snows in Portland. The last time it snowed the entire city shut down for days which is really weird for me to think about. I grew up going to school with terrible road conditions with lots of snow and below freezing temperatures. I had more days of going to school when it should have been a snow day than actual snow days.

Over the last week,  I saw that snow was in the forecast for Portland and I was expecting a light flurry, but that Thursday when the snow started, I was surprised by how much was falling and how much started sticking to the ground. By the time the ground was covered, the snow turned into freezing rain and covered the city in a layer of ice. 

I will admit, I did think it was silly how Portland reacted to snow but I do understand why. With how much it rains, the cold temperatures turn that into ice that covers everything. And since the city doesn’t salt the roads, they continue to be sheets of ice. When I stepped outside, the snow was so frozen it didn’t collapse from my weight.

I was supposed to work the entire weekend but the restaurant I worked at decided to close. I did go in for a couple hours Friday night, but that was to just help close so everyone could leave before the sun went down. My roommate also worked that day and he usually takes the bus which stopped running when his shift ended so we had to trek over to rescue him. 

One our way back from picking him up, we saw many power lines snapping and breaking because of the weather, which made us a little anxious that we would lose power. Fortunately we had a few flares of the power going out but we didn’t completely lose it like many families in the city. 

These past two days are the most consecutive snow days I have had in a row, and honestly it’s weird for me to think of getting a day off due to weather. But I am glad that we are taking time off to ensure that all students and teachers can be in class and that my job closed so that we did not have to drive on the roads.

Online Learning Made Easy…Sorta

by Julien-Pierre “Johnny” Campbell

I miss on-campus learning, as I’m sure many PSU students do. I’ve found it difficult to adapt to life as a full-time student at home. What I’ve also found, however, are some small ways to make online learning a little easier. Here are my tips!

Find a space and make it yours: Having a dedicated study space can make all the difference. I staked out my kitchen table. My roommate found a cheap desk on Amazon. We use these spaces as spots solely to study, and do our leisure activities elsewhere. If I’m using my laptop for fun, I pick a different room. In this way, I’ve sort of trained myself to feel productive in my study spot, and to use it just for that. It may not be a classroom, but it’s the next best thing.

Have fun with your study materials: I’ve never been one for color-coded sticky notes and special pens. I noticed, though, that everyone who used them said it helped them feel more engaged. It made note-taking fun. I splurged on some fancy highlighters, some expensive pens, a planner, and some colorful sticky notes. I must admit, I’m on the bandwagon now! It’s a little thing, but it’s aesthetically pleasing and fun. I also find that having notes where each “section” is a different color is actually a really helpful distinction!

Reach out to your classmates: I’m a very social person, and one of the things I miss most about on-campus learning is making new friends. I’ve met some really cool people in my online classes, but Zoom is a very public platform. Frankly, it feels a little weird to ask, “Hey, wanna be friends?” in front of a class full of people. I feel like I’ve missed out on some wonderful friendships for fear of reaching out. Last term, I bit the bullet and private messaged a classmate to say I loved their ideas, and if they wanted to be study buddies, I’d be happy to do so. They responded so enthusiastically that I realized something: a lot of people are missing the social aspect of college too. Since then, I’ve reached out to a few people in my classes, and made some amazing, lasting friends. 

These are only a few tips, but they have really helped me. I hope they help you too!

A Brand-New Hobby

by Julien-Pierre “Johnny” Campbell

We’ve all heard of people picking up new and interesting hobbies through this pandemic. Baking bread, knitting, photography, jogging, woodworking, cooking. As a person whose main hobbies are reading and writing, I felt pretty well set up. But after almost a year of this pandemic, I must say there’s only so much reading and writing one person can do.

I looked for a new hobby, excited at the prospect of picking up something useful. The one issue: my delayed motor skills and various disabilities. My hands shake too badly for photography. Cooking is a study in my pathetic knife skills (and often a study in how many times I’ll cut my fingers). I have fibromyalgia, which makes jogging incredibly painful. Knitting? Embroidery? Painting? A pipe-dream.

I often struggle with feeling somewhat useless because of my motor skill issues. I feel that I lack something that others have without thought. Not everyone is artistic, but anyone can hold a paintbrush and paint a straight line. Anyone can mince veggies with enough practice. Anyone but me.

I bought a skateboard on a lark one day. I’d always wanted to learn how to skate, but never took the time to do so. I thought perhaps I would practice a little each day, and maybe, finally this could be my new hobby. 

I proudly mounted my skateboard for the first time over the summer … and promptly fell on my ass. The board shot out from under me like a rocket, speeding down the sidewalk. I sat, stunned, nursing my bruised knees. My ego was even more bruised. This is why I never try anything new, I thought furiously. This is why I stick with what I’m good at — academia, theatre, books. Not physical activities. 

I stormed inside, vowing I’d never skateboard again. 

That is, until the next day. I crept cautiously out of my house, as if someone was going to swoop down on me. I placed my skateboard on the ground and climbed on. I got my balance and just sort of … stood there. That was all I needed to do. 

Slowly, each day, I got better and better. One day, I made it down the sidewalk without falling. One day, I felt brave enough to skate in the road. And eventually, by the end of the summer, I was racing through the neighborhood with my dog, who pulled the skateboard as I sailed behind. 

I was so proud of myself for sticking with skateboarding. I’m not very good at it, but it’s fun. It’s simple. And more than that, I proved something to myself: I am capable. My motor skills may be delayed, and it may take me a long time to absorb these kinds of skills, but I did it.

And if I can do it, anyone can. 

Three Tips To Maximize Your Academic Year

By: Adair Bingham

It’s amazing just how much can change in a few, short years. Change is one of the main things that’s been on my mind lately and it’s taken up a good deal of my thoughts for a few months now. There are things I wish I had done differently and then things I take great pride in concerning these last few years, but what I wouldn’t give to stop thinking about the things I regret. Logically, I know there’s no point or reason in dwelling on these, after all, they’re in the past, but still I spend time fantasizing about what I could’ve or should’ve done differently. To try and divert from this, I’ve compiled a list of three pieces of advice I wish I had when I started my academic career. 

  1. Meet new people.

While I’m beyond grateful for the friendships I have formed while at school, I can’t help but wonder just how much bigger my friend circle could be if I had reached out a bit more. It wasn’t until my junior year that I finally started to beat back my social anxiety and meet new people by simply reaching out to those that seemed cool or interesting to me, and I seriously wish I had started working on overcoming that hurdle much earlier. Although we’re still in the midst of the pandemic, it doesn’t hurt to reach out through Zoom or email, should someone happen to catch your eye. 

  1. Don’t be afraid to reach out when you need help.

You don’t have to go through anything alone and there’s always a resource available to you, the only thing you need to do is reach out for it. This is something that I seriously wish I had learned earlier. Things feel so much easier when you have people to talk with, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, no matter how small your concern may seem. Portland State offers a few things at your disposal, such as SHAC and the Writing Center. For medical concerns and one-on-one, group, and crisis counseling, SHAC is the place to go. On the other hand, academic matters can be taken up with the Writing Center. You have the power to curate your own experiences, and when you find yourself floundering, there are people and resources that can help. 

  1. Take every opportunity that comes your way. 

College presents you with a handful of new opportunities every day, be sure to take as many as you physically (and mentally) can. From heavy courses and long, usually sociable days, being a student means days chock-full of opportunities hiding in every person you meet, every email you read, and in every class you take. Don’t be bashful and take any opportunity that may present itself, no matter how small it may seem.

Naturally, this isn’t a “be all, end all” triad of things to try out before a new academic year (or just new life experiences in general), but it is a collection of things that would’ve made my university experience that much better. Maybe they can help you.

Many of Portland State’s on-campus businesses are open

Cafe Yumm is located at PSU’s Rec Center building, 506 SW Mill St.

Even though most academic buildings at PSU are closed and classes are mostly remote, many on-campus establishments are still open and welcoming customers (in a safe and socially distanced manner). Support our on-campus businesses if you can!

Cafe Yumm
Location: Rec Center, 1806 SW 6th Ave
What: Bentos, bowls, sandwiches and more
Hours: Mon-Fri 11 am-7 pm, Sat 11:30am – 6:30 pm, Sun 12-6:30 pm

Chipotle Mexican Grill
Location: Broadway Housing Building, 1948 SW Broadway
What: Tex-Mex cuisine
Hours: 10:45 am-10 pm 7 days a week

Hawaiian Express
Location: Engineering Building, 1930 SW 4th Ave #110
What: Hawaiian cuisine
Hours: Mon-Fri 10 am-8 pm; sat 11 am-8 pm; sun closed

Pita Pit
Location: Rec Center, 1811 SW 5th Ave
What: Sandwich shop
Hours: Monday-Fri 10 am-3 pm; Sat & Sun closed

Portland State University Bookstore
Location: Urban Center, 1715 SW 5th Ave
What: PSU gear, textbooks, technology, accessories, study & art supplies, misc.
Hours: Mon-Thurs by appt only; Fri-Sun closed

Rice Junkies
Location: Urban Center, 506 SW Mill St #111
What: Asian Fusion cuisine
Hours: Open 10 am-6 pm Monday-Friday

Location: Urban Center, 1742 SW 6th Ave
What: coffee, beverages, pastries, oven-warmed sandwiches
Hours: Mon-Fri 5 am- 7 pm; Sat & Sun 6:30 am-5 pm

University Market
Location: Inside Smith at 1825 SW Broadway, Room 105
What: Snacks, coffee, grab-and-go food, drinks and PSU gear
Hours: 8 am-4 pm mon-fri, closed Sat-Sun

The UPS Store
Location: Rec Center, 1819 SW 5th Ave
What: Printing, shipping & packing services
Hours: Mon-Fri 9 am-7 pm, sat 11 am-5 pm, sun 11 am-4 pm

Visualeyes Optometric
Location: Broadway Housing Building, 1962 SW Broadway
What: Optometry office offering eye exams and eyewear
Hours: By appointment

Beautiful Books Part II

By Julien-Pierre “Johnny” Campbell

As the pandemic has gone on, I have read more than I’ve read in years. About a month back, I wrote an article on some of my favorite books that I highly recommended for pandemic reading. I’m back with an updated list.

Image result for franny and zooey

In this novel, told in dueling perspectives by brother Zooey and sister Franny, Catcher in the Rye author J.D. Salinger tells the story of a young woman’s religious crisis. Franny is a college student who has a breakdown at the state of the world. She’s lost, confused, and feels that no one understands her concerns. Her brother Zooey, an actor, attempts to revive her spirits through an extended monologue. At turns, he berates her and encourages her, and attempts to work through his own existential angst as well. It’s a really provocative little book that has broken my heart each time I’ve read it. Salinger presents two really flawed characters that are concerningly relatable. It’s an excellent novel to make one reflect.

Image result for an indigenous people's history of the us

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Rozanne Dunbar Ortiz is a harrowing but incredibly important read. It presents a history too — including myself — few know about.  The genocide of America’s Indigenous peoples is presented in minute deatail, and the bloody cost of white Europeans’ settler colonialism. It is an intense read, but one I was very grateful for. 

Image result for alabama moon

Alabama Moon by Watt Key is actually a young adult novel, but has a permanent place on my shelf. It tells the story of ten-year-old Moon, a boy raised in the wilderness by his father who has an unhinged distrust of the government. Moon is entirely self-sufficient and knows how to live off the land. After his father dies, he is forced into the system, and learns to make friends, defy authority, and eventually find happiness with people who love him. It’s told in Moon’s perspective, and his childish wisdom is at times painful to read. The novel is engaging and incredibly well-written.

Image result for love in the time of global warming pen

Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block is a post-apocalyptic novel told in some of the most poetic, beautiful language I have ever read. It’s modeled on the story of The Oddessy, and its hero, Penelope, meet a rag-tag cast of queer kids on a mission to save her family. It’s a whimsical work of magical realism, Greek mythology, and queer fiction. It’s a quick read, and an awfully depressing one, but the work and its sequel, The Island of Excess Love, are some of the best queer fiction I have ever read!

Image result for coal mountain elementary book

Lastly, and a very recent addition of my favorites, is Coal Mountain Elementary by Mark Nowack. It’s a book of poetry, newspaper articles, and personal testament that tells the story of the dangers of the coal mining industry. It features articles about everyday collapses and mining accidents in China, the personal recollection of a miner in West Virginia who lives through a collapse, and a disturbing lesson plan (which is real, and one can find online), to teach children about the benefits of the mining industry. It’s a really thought-provoking work, and the poetry is beautiful.