In a program designed to open the world of employment possibilities in science and engineering to interested high school students, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) hosted a visit June 25 by 20 scholarship recipients of Prairie View A&M University’s (PVAMU‘s) Summer Transportation Institute (STI). The tour of TTI included a full-scale crash test, a hands-on demonstration of TTI’s driver simulator and a visit to the Institute’s Hydraulics, Sedimentation and Erosion Laboratory.
PVAMU chooses its STI participants from 80 secondary-school applicants based on their grade point averages and demonstrated interest in the field of engineering. As part of the month-long program, participants get a taste of college life by living on the PVAMU campus, attending guest lectures and touring off-campus locations like TTI. Each year the Institute hosts the visiting STI students to show them what life as a transportation engineer might be like. Visiting PVAMU gives these juniors and seniors a leg up on their fellows as they make choices for college.
Motivating students has been the main focus of STI for the past 14 years. The program boasts many success stories of participants who have gone on to successful careers in transportation. “We have a lot of participants who go on to become students at Prairie View and other engineering schools,” STI Program Director Ramalingam Radhakrishnan noted. “The idea is to expose them to transportation. Some go on to make that their careers, and some go on to become medical doctors or pursue other professions. Either way, this program benefits them by showing them things they would never be exposed to otherwise.”
As part of their tour, the students visited TTI’s Communications Program, where they viewed a video of the crash test they witnessed in person earlier in the day. The students learned how the video — which detailed the crash from numerous angles (and in slow motion) — can help researchers make lifesaving decisions about roadside safety products.
“I was interested in science and engineering, and that’s why I applied to the STI program,” Aldine High School Student Robert Hall said. “But, actually making it a career was just a thought. Now, I know, this is what I want to do with the rest of my life.”