Getting students' hands on transportation careers

AMES, Iowa -- High school students will grab the controls of a mini excavator, the steering wheel of a semi and the keyboard of a surveying instrument.

transportation fair

High school students explore some heavy equipment during the 2005 Transportation Career Fair. Photo by Iowa State's Center for Transportation Research and Education

It's all part of the third annual Transportation Career Fair. This year's fair is designed to give Iowa high school students a hands-on transportation experience and expose them to more than 100 transportation careers -- everything from civil engineers to environmental planners to project managers to highway designers to equipment operators to laborers.

The fair will be Thursday, April 20, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in and around the Scheman Building at the Iowa State Center. The fair is for Iowa high school students in grades nine through 12 who are interested in math, science, computers, landscape architecture, art, construction, high-tech equipment and machinery. There is no registration fee.

The fair's sponsors have a simple message for the high school students who attend the fair: "There is a career for you in transportation," said Duane Smith, the associate director for outreach of Iowa State's Center for Transportation Research and Education. "Young people don't think of transportation as a career."

But this country is going to need all the transportation workers it can educate, said Renee White, an instructor in the civil engineering technology program at Des Moines Area Community College's Boone Campus.

White said the Federal Highway Administration is estimating that 932,000 transportation jobs will have to be filled over the next 10 years.

So transportation educators at Iowa State University and Des Moines Area Community College have agreed to organize a career fair focused on the roads and highways we all use every day. The fair will include indoor and outdoor activities -- including games of Construction Jeopardy, information about college transportation programs and a scavenger hunt that uses global positioning technology.

Other partners supporting the Transportation Career Fair are the Iowa Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration and the Iowa Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America.

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