The MTC and the Accelerated Bridge Construction University Transportation Center (ABC-UTC) at Florida International University are partnering with the Iowa DOT to pilot the AASHTO TRAC™& RIDES programs in Iowa schools (TRAC:Transportation and Civil Engineering; RIDES: Roadways into Developing Elementary Students).
The TRAC™& RIDES hands-on STEM-aligned activities introduce students in grades 5–12 to the work world of transportation and civil engineering and inspire students to consider careers in those fields.
To date the following schools have participated: West Branch Middle School, Boone High School, and Parkview Middle School.
In addition to standard classroom activities associated with the Bridge TRAC™ PAC, Boone students participated in a Skype conference with MTC faculty affiliate Brent Phares. Dr. Phares offered feedback on how to improve the students’ bridge structure and design. Students then held a panel discussion and presentation with three engineers from the Iowa DOT and one from the Bridge Engineering Center, of which Dr. Phares is the director.
Parkview students developed a bridge competition as an after-school activity in conjunction with the TRAC™ PAC, which gave them the opportunity to connect with local engineering professionals. The MTC provided recognition certificates for the event. (This format was replicated in the summer “Teaching in the Fast Lane” workshop for elementary teachers.)