MNTRC partners offer a variety of development programs that collectively create a range of transit-related education for virtually all age groups. Particular emphasis is placed on attracting the youngest students into more advanced transportation studies and careers. These range from summer programs for youth to workshops for those already in the workforce. These activities address a spectrum of transit-related topics and courses of study.
K-12 Workforce Development Initiatives
"The Mineta Transportation Institute presents an annual competition for middle-school students with $500, $300, and $200 cash prizes. MTI provides the curriculum and workbooks at no cost to the schools. This national video-conferenced competition brings together student teams each spring to present and defend their sustainable transportation projects. Teams are sponsored by MTI Trustees. In the past 12 years, nearly 1000 students have participated, and every US DOT Secretary since Rodney Slater has addressed the students.
The GREATT Program (Graduate Research and Education in Advanced Transportation Technologies) at Penn State provides hands-on activities to augment student learning. The project goals include enhancing K-12 student interest in science and engineering careers; improving graduate and undergraduate student skills in using technology for communication; and improving K-12 science teacher skills in using technology for communication and teaching.
As part of its extensive K-12 outreach that annually involves students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) focused programs, the University of Detroit Mercy’s Pre-College Program has successfully implemented a program spotlighting transit careers. This is a one-week summer program for students in grades 9-11, especially those from underrepresented groups.
The Lego Smart Move Project requires teams to discuss and describe their communities, and then to create a list of everything that moves in, around, to and through them. From this list, teams learn about various forms of transportation and identify related problems or issues. After selecting a specific problem, participants innovate a solution. The project culminates with a competition during which the students discuss, display, and test their projects.
High school students participate in MTI’s Summer Transportation Institute (STI), a four-week summer program that helps to prepare students for technical degrees and careers in transit. Through STI, 40-50 students per year earn three college credits emphasizing transportation policy. They learn in the classroom and through field trips to transit centers, bridges and highway infrastructure, and other operational sites. Some recent site visits have included Bay Area Rapid Transit, the Oakland Bay Bridge, Caltrain, the San Jose ITS Traffic Operations Center, an electric automobile factory, the Mineta San Jose Airport, and others.
Howard University also provides an STI program co-sponsored by the District DOT, Maryland State Highway, and Howard University. The goal is to help develop a diverse transportation workforce by exposing middle and high school students to transportation careers. STI recruits 15-25 bright students and exposes them to exciting activities and field trips that help them understand civil engineering as it relates to transportation careers.
The University of Detroit Mercy offers TRANSIT, a one-week summer commuter camp for high school students who want to learn about transit. The camp includes labs and discussions led by University professors and high school science teachers, presentations by public and private industry, and activities from MDOT's TRAC program. Participants learn about transportation issues, especially as they relate to safe, secure, and efficient systems. Hands-on projects, guest speakers, field trips, and input from university experts expose students to careers they may never have considered. The TRANSIT Summer Program provides education for nearly 75 students per year throughout southeastern Michigan.
Professional Workforce Seminars
Summits and Forums
Marshall University and the Mineta Transportation Institute were the first UTCs to sponsor workforce development activities for transportation professionals. The Crisis in Transportation Workforce Development was the first of these, co-sponsored with the Rahall Transportation Institute and APTA in 2007. Other industry partners included FTA, APTA, AAR, AASHTO, TTD of AFL/CIO, and FRA. More than 200 transit executives attended this open forum at the annual APTA Conference in Charlotte, NC.
This role continued when the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC) was tasked with organizing regional workforce development conferences. Within a few months, MTI cooperated with the University of Southern California and Long Beach State University UTC to plan and execute a California-wide conference. The two-day gathering – Ensuring the Growth of California’s Transportation Workforce: Developing the Right Workers for Today’s Challenges – was conducted in Long Beach with 200 targeted participants.
In 2010 MTI and the University of Denver’s UTC co-hosted a workforce development conference for transportation leaders and educators to discuss options for solving the transportation workforce development problem and channeling more young people into transportation careers.
These workshops, and others conducted by other UTCs around the country, coalesced into a 2012 National Transportation Workforce Development Summit in Washington, DC. This epic effort was led by the University of Massachusetts Amherst, supported by MTI and Penn State, and with other distinguished UTCs as co-sponsors. US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood delivered the keynote, and panels of Assistant Secretaries and transportation industry leaders addressed workforce challenges. Key transportation, education and labor orga¬nizations participated in this summit that brought national attention to the workforce crisis.