Transportation Institute Preps Students for STEM Careers
Summertime on the campus of Elizabeth City State University is deceptively quiet. While the buzz of college students roaming the grounds and halls of the university has quieted, learning and exploring new worlds is happening every day, giving the region’s middle and high school students an opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of Science Technology Engineering and Math, or STEM.
Inside Dixon Hall, in the computer lab, Dr. Ellis Lawrence is directing a group of 12 high school students. This is the annual National Summer Transportation Institute, taking place on campuses across the country.
At ECSU, the institute is giving the region’s rising high school juniors and seniors an opportunity to focus on career awareness in the transportation industry. The students will spend the next four weeks in hands-on activities, as well as guest lectures, and field trips.
The program is an initiative of the Federal Highway Administration. It was created to address the needs of the future transportation workforce by advancing well-trained, qualified young men and women toward a STEM career.
Students enrolling in this summer program, according to information provided by Dr. Lawrence, must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, have an interest in a technology-related career, provide at least two letters of recommendation, provide standardized test scores, and write an essay explaining why he or she would like to participate in the program.
The program participants are then reviewed by a selection team. And all of this adds up to students who are able to handle what will be a solid Monday-through-Friday curriculum.
Monday through Thursday, the students will begin their day working on engineering problems. Before lunch, they will work on trigonometry challenges, followed by electronics, robotics, and computer programming after lunch. Fridays are set aside for field trips.
Students participating in this year’s program are coming from high schools across the region, including Pasquotank County, Gates County, Camden County, and the Northeast Academy of Advance Aerospace Technology.