STRIDE Partners Engage in K-12 Activities during Fall 2014

The STRIDE Center is working hard at finding creative ways to encourage younger students to select transportation engineering as a future career path. Various K-12 projects have been funded by STRIDE for this purpose. Find out below the fun and exciting events that have taken place this Fall 2014 semester at the various STRIDE partner institutions located in the Southeast.

Georgia Tech Engages with K-12 Students to Teach All about Transportation Engineering

Georgia Tech researchers Dr. Yanzhi (Ann) Xu, along with Dr. Mike Hunter and several graduate students, are working with 5th and 6th graders at a local public elementary school to expose students to transportation engineering data collection, analysis, research design, critical thinking, and planning. The Centennial Place Academy has 71% of its students eligible for the free/reduced lunch. 

The summer 2014 kick off reached over 80 fifth grade students and involved 10 graduate students and researchers. The students were given an exciting transportation presentation followed by hands-on activities. These included mode choice mapping and modeling, accessibility challenges using wheelchairs, and paper and electronic travel diary activities. Georgia Tech students and researchers at opening session presentation with Centennial fifth graders). The follow-up sessions occurred fall 2014 and were conducted with 20 sixth graders who choose to participate after the opening session. The students
were split into groups, and had graduate students assigned to mentor them in the four modules. (Students took turns using wheelchairs to test the accessibility of labs, libraries, and classrooms at their school).

Dr. Xu stated, “My biggest takeaway is that it's never too early to start children out with STEM programs. The elementary students absorbed so much knowledge and skills through our program that all our researchers and volunteers are both pleasantly
surprised and encouraged.”  See more at

Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE) at North Carolina State University (NCSU) & Transportation YOU

CTE has been working with the NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) on a series of workshops to offer engineering, particularly transportation engineering, as a viable career option for girls.  CTE worked with WTS to co-sponsor a Transportation YOU event held in Raleigh on September 18, 2014. The workshops provide experiential hands-on activities, speakers, role models, and mentoring opportunities which serve to engage and inspire. Eight high school girls heard a marketing/proposal manager for one of the largest transportation companies in the US talk about how she works with engineers, graphic artists, photographers, and other to produce appealing proposals.  A traffic safety project engineer with the NCDOT also talked to the participants about different materials that are used for construction and explained the basic concepts of tension and compression when a load is applied to a member. The hands-on activity was based on the story of the three little pigs and the big, bad wolf who tries to blow their houses down.  The activity consisted of three timed rounds where participants used different materials to build “houses.”

CTE Transportation Career Day

CTE worked with 134 students at Robbinsville High School in Graham County, North Carolina. Nine sessions were offered for a total of 13 hours in which students were introduced to careers in transportation as well as learning practical math applications. Curriculum topics covered included introductions to calculus, physics, parabolic equations, and quadratic formulas. Transportation engineering topics included operations, safety, and highway design. LEGO robot vehicles were used to demonstrate the concepts presented. In addition to math concepts, the LEGO robot vehicles were included in discussions of the future of technology in the roadway environment, from incremental vehicular design improvements to fully-automated vehicles.

UAB, Kids in Engineering Day, October 11th, 2014

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) held two "Kids in Engineering Day" on October 11th and 18th this of this year. Fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students from the surrounding Birmingham metropolitan area as well as students from Montgomery metropolitan area were invited to the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Engineering to participate in a day of engineering related activities. The activities entailed building water powered cars, water powered bottle rockets, hot air balloons, as well as casting a pendant for a necklace, and and an engineering-style jeopardy game.  In each of the session physics and engineering concepts that were related to the activities were explained and reviewed with the students for approximately 15 minutes. Subsequent to the explanation to the student’s teams were allotted approximately 20 minutes to design their car/rocket/ hot air balloon. Each design team was then allowed to test their design, and then they were allowed 10 minutes for redesign. There were a total of 72 students that attended the events.

Career Day at UAB

Dr. Virginia Sisiopiku hosted a Career Information Session on October 10, 2014 focusing on Transportation Engineering. Nineteen UAB engineering students attended a presentation and learned about the transportation engineering profession and its potential benefits as a career path.

UFTI SimCity Pilot
Jordan Glen School, Archer Florida Fall 2014

Building on the educational benefits of computer games, which are becoming increasingly popular as a teaching tool, UFTI developed a 9-week class for middle school aged students using the computer game SimCity ( The class aims to foster interest in the transportation profession as a career choice, with each 45-minute module designed to instill participants with the planning and engineering concepts involved in this profession, such as design, materials, traffic mitigation, and budget management. 

Participants spend the first five weeks learning from tutorials included in the SimCity software.  At the end of each of these initial sessions, the students complete a short questionnaire developed by UFTI to measure knowledge transfer. Participants spend the remaining five weeks competing to build the most successful city based on instructor-established criteria.

Two UFTI instructors piloted this course at Jordan Glen School in Archer Florida.  This location proved ideal for the pilot because of its unique afternoon elective schedule where students can select from a variety of courses. The students worked in pairs and worked together to learn the best way to build their ideal city.  They were exposed to computers, mathematics, urban and regional planning, and civil and transportation engineering. The pilot was well-received, with numerous complaints when class was over, and a few students even declaring it was their favorite elective!

UFTI Engineers Change the World
Girl Scouts Camp Kateri, Orange Springs FL

On June 24th and 25th, UFTI partnered with the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council to host two consecutive workshops at Camp Kateri in Orange Springs, FL. Each workshop began with a presentation on careers in engineering with an interactive discussion on transportation. This discussion lead into the LEGO robotic vehicle lesson plans. Fourteen girls participated in each of the single day workshops.

K-12 Events at the University of Florida

UF ASCE and WTS student chapters hosted an engineering education table at the PK Yonge Annual Carnival in October 2014.