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
Fast Lane introduces 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. Fast Lane is currently in its fourth year, thanks to the continued support of the Midwest Transportation Center.
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).
Research Experience for Teachers
RET provides teachers with research experiences and on-going relationships with career scientists that will enable them to share the latest developments in STEM fields with students and inspire their students to learn more about science and engineering and their related career paths. The Midwest Transportation Center participates in RET, offered annually through ISU’s Center for Biorenewable Chemicals and funded by the National Science Foundation.
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 Institute for Transportation and learn more about bridges and other transportation-related topics.
This annual event is sponsored in-part by the Iowa DOT and supported by ISU 4U Promise, which helps prepare students for college who come from communities with historically lower attendance or academic success in higher education.