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Taking Hands-On Experiences on the Road Reaches More than Students

Employees with specific skills and a technical education are in demand in the transportation industry and this need is growing. Unfortunately, too few young people are being ushered toward transportation careers. Over the past decade, the nation’s K-12 educational systems have worked hard to deliver students to four-year degree programs at universities. This focus has greatly reduced the number of shop and hands-on technical classes, resulting in dwindling opportunities to expose students to the sorts of careers that drive the transportation industry today.

The Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence is determined to reverse this trend by providing young people with in-person, hands-on experiences, while demonstrating the value to parents, school administrators, industry representatives, and others. They are doing this with a new mobile outreach unit, a trailer decked out with stations for each transportation mode that is pulled by a truck. The trailer is outfitted with several pieces of equipment, creating hands-on stations where students, counselors, teachers, peers, and parents can participate in real activities that occur in transportation careers. These activities showcase the technology in the industry and help students develop passion for transportation careers.

“It’s one thing to put out a webinar, put out a newsletter, or tell someone about these careers,” said Chris Hadfield, Director of the Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence. But, he pointed out, it’s completely different when students and their parents visit the trailer and have that hands-on experience.

The mobile unit was used for the first time in early May at an event where high school students were competing to build fuel efficient miniature cars with lawn mower engines. The event hosted about 700 attendees and approximately 200-300 people walked through the trailer.

The Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence’s new mobile outreach unit is equipped with hands-on experiences representing each mode of transportation.

Inside, the center has designed an experience that promotes engagement with not just the students. School decision makers and parents, which the center refers to as influencers, are also targeted by the trailer.

“You have to have something to draw them in, the big trailer does that. Then you have to have industry partnerships,” said Hadfield. The goal is to have industry representatives from each transportation sector accompany the trailer at events. These industry volunteers work alongside center staff to greet people and talk about transportation jobs.

“We know that when we put an industry person in front of a school superintendent while they’re seeing students get engaged with the experience, that’s when we start to have real conversations about bringing their tech programs back, bringing their transportation programs back, maybe doing some cool internship or apprenticeship with us,” said Hadfield.

Involving industry representatives in outreach activities also serves to bring the transportation sectors together.

“Our idea is to have somebody from the trucking industry sitting side by side, two feet away from, somebody from the aviation sector and they’re side by side with somebody from the railroad and so on and so forth. We have these people mingling and they hadn’t realized before that they have something in common and now they realize that they do. And, common denominators mean that you should be collaborating and working together. There’s a lot more power in working together than alone in silos,” sad Hadfield.

Moving forward, the trailer will be made available to each of the center’s 26 partner post-secondary schools across the state. To utilize the trailer, the schools’ responsibilities include coordinating industry representatives to accompany the trailer, getting the high schools in their region on board, and arranging either a career fair on their own campus or to bring the trailer to a high school. The trailer is made available to center partners at no cost except to return the truck with a full tank of gas.
Brand new, the trailer is already booked for over 36 events over the course of the year. The success of the project so far is attributed to the collaboration of the schools, employers, and the center. Having representatives from the industry is really important toward the outreach goals of the center.

“If a post-secondary educator tells a secondary educator or a student about these careers, that’s nice and it works fine. But, when an industry person tells you, ‘By the way I’m hiring and right now I have people who work for me and this is what I pay them and this is what they do,’ the message has much more weight for a student, a parent or for a school superintendent,” said Hadfield.

About the Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence

The Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence is an innovative collaboration between Minnesota state colleges and universities and industry partners dedicated to educating and training workers for high-demand careers in the transportation industry.

The center was started in January of 2013 in response feedback from industry “listening sessions” held in 2012. Through the development of partnerships, the center supports workforce alignment in order to meet the current and future needs of the state’s transportation industry, not only in terms of the number of graduates but also in terms of the location of programs and the rate of degree attainment. The center coordinates the alignment of skills and knowledge needed by employers with what is taught in instructional programs while providing outreach to improve student awareness of employment markets.

Clearinghouse Puts Transportation Resources at Your Fingertips

The Midwest Transportation Workforce Center (MTWC) recently launched its new, searchable database of transportation workforce resources. With over 1300 entries, the search feature is accessed by clicking on “Clearinghouse” in the top menu of the MTWC website. Here, you will find listings of a variety of resources including pre-apprenticeship programs, internships, educational opportunities, professional development opportunities, scholarships, summer programs, and workforce development initiatives across the nine-state MTWC region, and beyond.

While the website, with its varied content devoted to growing the transportation pipeline, is a first stop for people seeking transportation workforce information, the indexing of resources in this new database will help users find what they are looking for more readily.

The Clearinghouse is a resource for educators looking for transportation curricula or programs, industry or workforce professionals looking for successful practices, or parents who are looking for summer programs for their budding transportation professional. So, if you are looking for Supply Chain programs in the region, or K-12 programs that target girls, we can help.

“Our vision for a Clearinghouse is that it will help us capture and define the collective work we are doing in this region. These transportation resources span the continuum from K-12 career awareness through professional development across all transportation occupations. With this database, we can determine where the gaps are and where we need to improve career pathways.  As our communities prepare for the future of the transportation workforce, this kind of information will form a fundamental baseline for these planning discussions. We will be ready,” said Maria Hart, MTWC Program Manager.

The MTWC website is a one-stop for all things related to the transportation talent pipeline in the Midwest. With MTWC, you can connect with your peers, share best practices, read about others’ successes, and help define and develop the Midwest strategy for transportation talent development.

Please click here to explore the most comprehensive compilation of the region’s transportation workforce development initiatives, programs, and resources.

Make Sure Your Resources Are Listed

The MTWC Clearinghouse is always growing and improving. This launch is only the beginning. Help us build this network. To get your resource listed, please complete the MTWC Clearinghouse submission form. Or, send information along with a website link by email to Maria Hart at maria.hart@wisc.edu.

Logistics Internship Program Converts Students into Employees

Going into its third year, the Conexus Intern Program has grown from 30 companies employing 84 students in 2015 to more than 80 companies and more than 260 students expected in the summer of 2017. Conexus Indiana is a non-profit consortium of the state’s advanced manufacturers and logistics (AML) industries.

Engineering Community Involvement and Hands-On Activities Are Key Strengths of SLU’s Summer Transportation Institute

While many of the parents who sent their high schoolers to Saint Louis University’s Summer Transportation Institute in July may like to see the camp extended to two weeks, this program will continue to provide a one-week experience, packed with daily hands-on activities, to two different groups of students again in 2017.

“We would love to offer the camp as two-week sessions, but, with our current resources, these two, one-week sessions are the only way to serve the maximum number of students,” said camp director, Jalil Kianfar, PhD, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at Parks College of Engineering, Aviation, and Technology. Having successfully completed the second year of this program at SLU, Kianfar looks forward to building on the tradition again next year by leveraging what makes the program strong. Read more

Transportation Today

Newspaper for Students Transforms Image of Careers in Transportation

Since it was launched, Transportation Today WI has transformed career and technical education (CTE) programs across Wisconsin into desired destinations, not just a place where some students end up, according to publisher, Renée Feight. This change is, in part, because the newspaper written for students brings awareness of great career prospects in transportation to the classroom. Feight and Larry Werner, publishers of the Transportation Today WI newspaper are excited about all things transportation. The publication was added as a special publication of its parent publication, Teaching Today WI, in 2010. Read more

TransportationCareers.org website

Careers in Transportation Curriculum Project Develops Pipeline of Students

Resource Website

The Transportation Careers Curriculum Project provides educators with a series of curriculum units that cover Transportation, Distribution and Logistics (TDL) topics.

The goal of the project is to develop a pipeline of talented students who are interested in careers in the transportation field, and the content provided on the site helps prepare teachers to join this effort. Lessons developed deal with a variety of transportation-related subjects, including the planning, management and movement of people, materials, and goods by a variety of means as well as transportation infrastructure planning and management, logistics services, mobile equipment and facility management. Read more

APTA Releases National Transit Curriculum

Resource Website

APTA has released the National Transit Curriculum, which was developed as a semester-long course by an advisory committee comprised of representatives from public transit agencies, private sector firms, educators and trade associations to increase understanding and awareness of the industry. Individual lessons can be adapted for students of all ages, from K-12 to graduate-level courses, or for use in industry presentations.

For more information, read the article in Passenger Transport.

Online Hub Available for Transportation Education Resources

Clearinghouse launched in May, 2016 provides one-stop-shop for transportation education resources.

Clearinghouse launched in May, 2016 provides one-stop-shop for transportation education resources.

The web-based Garrett A. Morgan Technology and Transportation Education Program Clearinghouse provides a consolidated hub of resources, including instructional materials and classroom lesson plans, designed to support, enhance, and promote K-12 STEM and transportation education and outreach nationwide. A one-stop shop for educators, students, parents, and transportation professionals, the clearinghouse is funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and spearheaded by Tennessee’s Knox County Schools and the University of Tennessee Center for Transportation Research.

The clearinghouse features a wide variety of transportation-themed STEM instructional materials and other resources that are available for download, in most cases, free of charge. The materials were hand-picked and/or created by STEM experts and K-12 educators nationwide.
Read more

Teachers Learn How to Introduce the Field of Engineering to Students

Iowa State University’s Institute for Transportation partnered with the Iowa Department of Transportation in the summer of 2015 to lead three programs that introduced elementary and high school teachers as well as high school students to the field of engineering.

Jennifer Serra is a program assistant at the Institute for Transportation where she helped design the programs. Serra said the program helped teachers so they could actively engage their students in the STEM fields.

Twenty-four teachers participated in “Teaching in the Fast Lane Workshop for Elementary Teachers,” that featured STEM investigations into the best method for elementary school teachers to educate young students about science, math, and engineering concepts.

Leading faculty and graduate students made presentations about engineering in the workshop, hosted at ISU. One presenter was Lynne Bleeker, a consultant for Full Option Science System, a program that aims to make learning environments more active. She helped elementary school teachers design a curriculum that met national science and math standards. Read more

Bridge-Building Competition Engages Students With Active Learning Approach

Science Center of Iowa’s premier “Ready, Set, Build! Bridge-Building Challenge,” event inspired students to consider careers in engineering and transportation and launched a lasting partnership for key transportation agencies in the state.

Seventy-six students and family members from all around Iowa traveled to Des Moines, Iowa to attend the November, 2015 event designed to introduce y­oung students to engineering through an approach based on hands-on learning. Event participants formed 24 teams, and each team had three hours to construct a bridge using a selection of balsa wood, wood clothespins, popsicle sticks, hot glue, and string. The bridges were then tested and judged. Read more

Events

FutureQuest 2017

FutureQuest 2017 will provide approximately 5,300 middle school students with an opportunity to relate their current interests to future education and career opportunities found within 16 career clusters. Students who attend this event will be better prepared to choose high school classes that relate to their interests and strengths.