Twenty high school students who have shown interest in science and engineering spent an entire day at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), June 25, as part of the Prairie View A&M Summer Transportation Institute (STI), which is in its 15th year.
The 11th and 12th grade students were among 45 applicants who were selected for the two-week long program that introduces them to a wide range of transportation topics. Each year, TTI guides the students on a tour of the Institute, conducting presentations and demonstrating various facilities including the Environmental and Emissions Chamber, the Sediment and Erosion Control Laboratory, the Driving Simulator and the Visibility Research Laboratory. The students also witnessed a crash test, conducted at the Riverside Campus.
“In addition to the TTI visit, the students toured the Port of Houston, the TranStar traffic management center and various TxDOT facilities,” says STI Co-Director Ramalingam Radhakrishnan. “The kids were selected to participate in the Summer Transportation Institute based on various criteria which includes GPA, career interest in STEM disciplines and school counselor recommendations. We have four students this year who are from other states.”
Radhakrishnan says the program also includes a visit to NASA and a highway construction company as well as classroom lectures that introduce the students to highway planning, the railway industry, water transportation and traffic control.
The program is free to the students, funded and supported by Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) through Texas Department of Transportation and Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Prairie View A&M University.
“It’s a unique experience and gives the students a lot of exposure to the various transportation systems, and hopefully it encourages them to further their studies,” TxDOT Project Specialist Daniel Williams says.
Over the years, former STI participants have gone on to graduate with engineering degrees.
“I’m not sure exactly what I want to do for a living, but I was interested in learning more about transportation because I don’t want to leave any doors shut,” says Maegann Stafford, a high school student from Georgia. “I have met a lot of people who are passionate about what they do. You can tell that the things they do have improved people’s lives and I want to someday be able to help in similar ways.”