Getting students excited about transportation

AMES, Iowa -- High school students will drive a semi, maneuver a mini excavator and use global positioning technology to complete a scavenger hunt.

It's all part of the second annual Transportation Career Fair. The fair is sponsored by Iowa State University and Des Moines Area Community College. It will be from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday, April 21, at the Iowa State Center. The fair is free to interested high school students. Registration information is available at

Fair organizers have identified 75 careers in transportation and have planned activities to grab students' interest. The activities include:

  • A mini excavator rodeo sponsored by Manatts Inc. Students will maneuver a mini excavator through a course and pick up and move items (but no digging allowed).
  • A Global Positioning System scavenger hunt sponsored by the community college. Students will use handheld global positioning receivers to find items around the Scheman Building, Stephens Auditorium and Fisher Theater.
  • A drive in a semi sponsored by the community college. Under the supervision of a community college instructor, students will drive a semi (minus the trailer) through the parking lot at the Iowa State Center.
  • A test of construction materials sponsored by the community college. Students will experiment with concrete, aggregate and other materials used in road construction.
  • A Construction Jeopardy trivia game sponsored by the community college.
  • A demonstration of retroreflectivity (the ability of a material to reflect light back to its source) sponsored by 3M.
  • An indoor surveying demonstration and exercise sponsored by the community college. Students will learn how to use land surveying equipment.

Jerry Roche, an Iowa State graduate who works for the Federal Highway Administration as a transportation safety engineer, will wrap up the day's events. "I want students to think about where this country would be without our road system," Roche said. "The nation as a whole is dependent on our transportation system and students will have the opportunity to be a part of it."

Renee White, a community college instructor, said the fair is a great opportunity for Des Moines Area Community College and Iowa State to work together.

"(Des Moines Area Community College) offers some wonderful two-year degrees, and the first two years of a four-year degree, but many transportation courses are only available at Iowa State," she said. "We can promote the field of transportation through this fair, without promoting any particular school."