ITD secures federal grant to enhance U of I
summer engineering program for high school students
ITD Human Resource Services Mary Harker and Michelle George secured a federal grant to assist the University of Idaho (U of I) in delivering an educational program for students interested in a transportation career.
The $58,988 award from the Federal Highway Administration National Summer Transportation Institution Program will enable the university to improve its summer JEMS (Junior Engineering, Math and Science) program.
The U of I has offered a two-week “residential” program for high school juniors and seniors the past 41 years. It provides an introduction to engineering courses for 40-60 high school juniors and seniors. The on-campus workshop is designed to impact the way high school students perceive science, math and engineering.
The summer program is scheduled for July 12-24 on the U of I campus.
“Our participation in the program will help ITD fill the pipeline with transportation employees for the future,” explains Michelle George, an ITD Human Resource Specialist, Senior.
“The broader we can cast our nets, the more likely we are to have a successful outreach effort. And getting our youth interested in transportation is an effort that will pay off when ITD begins to feel the effects of a shrinking workforce,” Harker explained.
ITD already works closely with the Nampa School District by providing professional expertise and the delivery of engineering education to high school and junior high students through the TRAC (Transportation in Civil Engineering) program at Columbia High School.
Supporting the U of I summer program complements the department’s efforts to help “grow” transportation employees of the future by introducing them to the array of options available.
It’s an early introduction of an educational path that leads to transportation careers, George explains, “through an emphasis on math, science and engineering.”
“Mary and I believe we’re planting seeds for a future harvest,” she added.
Employee demographics suggest ITD will experience a significant turnover of expertise and experience in the next 10-15 years, leaving critical vacancies that need to be filled by well trained, educated workers.
ITD will administer the federal grant as part of the NSTI program, which is part of FHWA’s On-the-Job Training/Supportive Services funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the Surface Transportation Program (STP) and Highway Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program.
Goals of the university’s summer program include:
Improved understanding of engineering and computer science
Exposure to the opportunities available within these fields and how they relate to the transportation industry
Enhanced leadership capabilities and understanding of group dynamics and motivation, and
Increased interest in math, science and engineering; and appreciation of the concept of teamwork
For more information about the summer institute, contact Michelle George at 334-8845 or on-campus coordinator Ed Schmeckpeper, Ph.D., of the U of I Civil Engineering Department, (208) 885-6702.