Chances are that most high school students would jump at the opportunity to spend a few weeks on a college campus with their peers participating in a hands-on program that explores careers in transportation.
The National Summer Transportation Institute is an interactive two-week residential program for high school students that permits exploration of various transportation fields and careers. The Institute teaches students through field excursions, projects, labs, classes and hands-on activities.
Seventeen Arkansas students participated in the Institute in 2019 hosted by the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR). Among them was Kennedy Neal who attends Episcopal Collegiate High School.
“I’ve known I wanted to go into engineering since sixth grade. I’ve attended the Engineering Scholars program and this year I selected which engineering field I wanted to explore. This Summer Transportation Institute allows me to explore civil engineering and the different paths available and helps me plan my future.”
The Arkansas Department of Transportation Materials Lab was among the destinations for students. Participants learned about the plasticity of soil, steel strength and the different layers of asphalt making up a roadway.
“I’m surprised at the different tests run in the lab because I haven’t studied this type of engineering,” 10th grader Shamarion Gilmore shared.
Other opportunities abounded during the program. Students learned about college admissions, participated in an engineering design class and lab, made a field excursion to the Murray Lock and Dam and the Big Dam Bridge, and participated in a Surveying Lab.
This year’s Institute allowed students to visit with an ARDOT engineer. “Dessert with an Engineer” featured District Six Maintenance Engineer Johnathon Mormon. “The students were attentive and enjoyed the discussion,” Mormon shared. “We talked about the requirements to be an engineer and how engineers impact the world.”