September 2017 – The MPO’s School Transportation Working Group recruited and sponsored Hillsborough County School District’s K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Coordinator, Joe Simmons, to participate in a national TRAC program in June. TRAC (Transportation And Civil Engineering) is an educational outreach program of the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) that provides real-world and hands-on practical learning for science/ technology/ engineering classes. Its mission is to introduce students in grades K-12 to the working world of transportation, especially civil engineering, and inspire them to consider careers in those fields.
Getting educators on TRAC and learning about MPOs can help connect students to the world of transportation while enhancing math, science, and technology skills. On his return from the TRAC & Rides instructor training program, Joe Simmons shared ideas with the working group about mentoring engineering students on transportation. He suggested holding an AASHTO-consistent bridge-building contest that would allow local winners to advance to a national competition. He also added, “I learned a lot about what an MPO is and does, and how we might work together going forward.”