Transportation is increasingly competing with other industries for new entrants to the workforce.
Yet transportation careers can be “invisible” to young people. Consequently, it is important to reach out early and in a variety of ways to K–12 students, parents, and educators to interest them in and prepare them for transportation careers.
Teaching in the Fast Lane Workshop for Elementary Teachers
Since 2015, Fast Lane has continued to introduce teachers to engineering concepts and professions with the goal of equipping them with the tools to enrich their classrooms and raise awareness and enthusiasm among young students about engineering. Teachers participate in hands-on activities based on the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Roadways in Developing Elementary Students (RIDES) kit. Teachers also visit actual bridge testing sites and hear from visiting Iowa Department of Transportation and InTrans speakers on the importance of an engineering education.
Transportation Institute for High School Educators
This week-long summer program, offered since 2015, helps Iowa teachers to gain the tools necessary to stimulate team building, critical thinking, and interest in the transportation field. Teachers participate in transportation-related activities aimed at helping them to bring science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) topics into the their classrooms and after-school programs.
Ready, Set, Build: Central Iowa’s Bridge Building Challenge
This Bridge Building Challenge sets teams against the clock, as they only have three hours to build a bridge out of provided materials (e.g., Popsicle sticks, wooden dowels, masking tape, glue, string, and poster board).
Throughout the competition, students and families have the opportunity to interact with engineering professionals from the Iowa Department of Transportation and Iowa State University’s InTrans and learn more about bridges and other transportation-related topics.
This annual event is sponsored in-part by the Iowa Department of Transportation and aims to inspire future engineers to “build” their dreams.
GO! Further Workshop for High School Students
As part of an on-going partnership between the Midwest Transportation Center and ISU’s Office of Precollegiate Program for Talented and Gifted (OPPTAG), high school students learn about the world of engineering and take part in hands-on activities to develop leadership and teamwork skills. To ensure diversity, the MTC and OPPTAG collaborate with ISU’s Science Bound program, which partners with schools to increase the number of ethnically diverse Iowa students pursuing STEM careers, and with the Program for Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE).