June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
22.277.1 - 22.277.11
Benefits and Challenges of Go!: An Innovative Online Publication to Attract Teens to TransportationThe paper discusses benefits and challenges of creating, supporting, and promoting the onlinepublication Go! designed to attract middle and high school students to educational opportunitiesand careers in transportation.Transportation workforces come from a variety of disciplines, including STEM fields, the socialsciences, and management. Despite this breadth, the foundational elements for transportationpractice are primarily rooted in STEM disciplines. Practitioners from engineering disciplines,particularly Civil Engineering, are critical for developing, operating, and maintaining afunctional transportation infrastructure system.However, there has been a decline in the civil engineering workforce in the field oftransportation. Recent estimates of those currently employed in transportation and slated to retirein the next 10 years stands at 40-50% (Transportation Research Board, 2003; Federal HighwayAdministration, 2008). At the same time, the demand for skilled transportation workforce hasincreased dramatically since 1990 (Georgia Tech report to the US Department of TransportationResearch and Innovative Technologies Administration (US DOT RITA). Furthermore, as thebaby boomer generation retires, a smaller hiring pool due to slumping birth rates in the 1980s isleft to fill the void (Nambisan & Hallmark, 2010). Reaching women and minorities also has beena challenge (Agrawal & Dill, 2008).Despite the needs and challenges of developing a qualified workforce, there have been limitedfocused efforts to attract middle and high school students to transportation education and careers.Go!, the only such online magazine in transportation, began in 2007 as a communications tool toattract teens to transportation studies and careers. It was created also in response to a lack ofawareness of the field of transportation as a challenging career option among young adults. Theperceived invisibility of transportation (Rodrigue, Comtois, & Slack, 2009) makes realizing thegoals of Go! challenging but also essential.Since its launch, Go! has shown promise, gained new subscribers, and caught the attention offederal organizations such as RITA and other units within USDOT. Go! has been successful inits initial mission. Key indicators of its success include the following in the first half of 2010: ≈860 subscribers; ≈ 5,600 average number of unique visitors monthly; ≈ 14,000 visitors per issue;average visitor spent ≈ 3 minutes per page, and visited about 3 pages.Go! is a valuable tool for supporting and enhancing informal STEM education to developtransportation professionals. Go!’s value lies in its online presence and informative STEMarticles that foster learning anywhere, anytime—a quality germane to informal learning. Suchavenues also offer co-curricular and extra-curricular options with contextual opportunities todemonstrate higher levels of learning outcomes such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.This paper provides an overview of the development of Go! including the challengesfaced to promote the publication and gather relevant performance metrics as well as thebenefits of being the only such publication in transportation. The paper concludes withlessons learned and plans for the future.
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