New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
A summer educational and experiential learning program for rising ninth grade students was organized by the College of Engineering at the University of ____. The purpose of the program was to raise awareness among high school students of engineering career opportunities and also to prepare these students for college. This paper summarizes the efforts and outcomes of the transportation engineering portion of the program, Summer Transportation Engineering Education Program (STEEP), held in June 2015. Thirty students from across the state of ___ and it neighboring states participated in a week long residential program. STEEP had two parts. The first part consisted of lecture sessions and the second part on hands-on engineering projects. The hand-on portion included students working in teams of 4 using computers to perform calculations based on the lectures, and also conducting experiments using scale models to verify and validate their calculations The projects were designed first to introduce participants to aspects of transportation engineering, particularly on how human and vehicle factors impact the design and operation of roadways and secondly, to educate teenagers on why road safety should be of critical importance to them. The students were provided general guidance and support to conduct their hands-on learning projects.
To assess the effectiveness of STEEP, evaluations were conducted before and after the program. The first evaluation was a before and after on-line survey and the second, a before and after in-class test. Preliminary analyses of the surveys shows that such educational programs offer significant benefits. In this program, students enhanced their understanding of how human, roadway, and vehicle factors need to be considered in roadway planning, design, and operations, and in turn how they affect safety. Through the hand-on projects, students gained an understanding of how to perform some basic math and science computations using software programs and learnt how transportation engineering concepts such as “stopping sight distance” play a role in the placement and posting of traffic control devices, operating intersection traffic signals, and the design of other roadway infrastructure elements. The program offers significant promise and can be adapted to other settings.
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