As urban and rural areas continue to see traffic growth, the need for more transportation engineers is also growing. The profession is losing over half of the state agency transportation engineers and many more local agency professionals as baby boomers retire. The TRB Special Report 275—The Workforce Challenge reviews some of the needs. This shortage has increased demand on universities to work harder at recruiting more and brighter students to the field.
In order to ensure that young people are attracted to the transportation jobs of the future, STRIDE is working to develop local, state and national partnerships throughout the transportation and education communities while collaborating on outreach programs within the southeast region consortium.
Transportation Career Day
Transportation Career Days are being held at the University of Florida (UF) and Florida International University (FIU) to introduce high school students, their parents and school counselors to transportation. Social media will be used to continue to engage participating students in future transportation research activities and transportation-related events. Georgia Tech is working with middle school students and teachers to expose them to transportation engineering.
LEGO® Robot Vehicle Lesson Plans for Secondary Education
North Carolina State University (NCSU), and UF are offering a LEGO® Robot Vehicle Lesson Plan for Secondary Education. The “Introduction to Transportation” curriculum, which was developed at UF, is offered to students in grades 5-8. The lessons contain the fundamentals of Transportation Engineering, which will teach students how advanced technology is integral to solving transportation problems. Students will also learn how transportation affects the quality of life in our society. The lessons also contain elements of safety, livability and economic competitiveness as related to transportation.
Family Engineering Night
Mississippi State University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, FIU and the UF are hosting Family Engineering Nights (FEN) at local elementary schools. FEN is an informal engineering education program that actively engages elementary-age children and their families in fun, hands-on engineering activities. Family involvement in FEN is key to the program’s success. At these events, children may engage in the activities with a parent, grandparent, older sibling, aunt, uncle, mentor or other important adult in their lives, as they explore and solve challenges together.
Engineers play an essential role in our designed world, yet many people are unaware of what engineers actually do. We can change this for future generations by providing positive experiences with engineering at an early age.
Engineers Change the World
NCSU and UF are collaborating with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), and the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) to offer engineering, particularly transportation engineering, as a viable career option for girls. This project plans to use a series of one-day workshops targeted at sophomore and junior high school level girls in North Carolina and Florida. Experiential hands-on activities, speakers, role models and mentoring opportunities will serve to engage and inspire.
UFTI developed and piloted a SimCity project to develop transportation related modules for middle school-aged students using a SimCity (simcity.com) computer game to foster interest in transportation as a career choice.
For more information contact:
Leslie Washburn, PE
STRIDE K-12 Workforce Development Coordinator