Developing the next generation of STEM students

October 7, 2014

Developing the next generation of STEM students

Science, Technology, Education and Math, or STEM, education is a prevalent topic in our country’s dialogue. Currently, we don’t educate enough students in these fields to replace retiring professionals or to support the scientific advances and innovations that we hope to accomplish.

The Virginia Department of Transportation-Northern Virginia District Civil Rights Office hosted its Tenth Annual Transportation Career Fair at the Prince William Fairgrounds on October 2.  As with the previous nine events, this career fair was planned and organized by AMT’s Carolyn Wolcott, as part of her scope to manage the Civil Rights Program for the Virginia MegaProjects GEC.

The purpose of this event is to expose students to opportunities within the transportation industry and provide development of the industry’s workforce. It encourages students to include the industry as an option when they plan their college majors or when they need to make plans immediately after graduation. The fair plants a seed about transportation careers in students’ minds.

The event focuses on 10th through 12th grades, when students’ futures become a discussion point.  This workforce development initiative for high school students is a national endeavor supported by FHWA  as part of its Workforce Development Program.  FHWA, like VDOT, would like to expand this outreach.

AMT is proud to have a presence at the fair, as organizers, volunteers and exhibitors. AMT’s exhibit was put together by Mary Stiff and Tim Diliscia.  As a means to introduce students to one practical aspect of the transportation industry, it featured a hands-on display teaching students about pervious asphalt.  The activity was well-received and prompted some excellent questions by the students.

“We were able to expose more than 1,000 high school students to the many rewarding and diverse careers in the transportation industry,” said Leslie Martin, VDOT civil rights manager.

Students were given scorecards on arrival and used them to ensure that they visited each exhibitor.  At the conclusion of the fair, the students turned in their scorecards. Three scorecards will be randomly chosen from those collected. Both the students whose scorecards are selected and the career centers of those students’ schools will receive cash prizes from the corporate sponsors.  This year’s Scorecard Sponsors were the 95 Express Lanes Project, Facchina Construction, and Parsons Transportation Group.

Many exhibitors were “repeaters;” some have participated in all ten events to date.  In addition, this year’s event featured 19 new exhibitors. They included large corporations, small firms, organizations, institutions of higher learning, governmental agencies, and representative from several VDOT departments.

 


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