STEM Concepts Drive NTC's Summer Programs

Teachers, students enjoy chance to plan, build a roundabout

The engineering ruler fascinated the teachers in the Teacher Transportation Institute, who learned just what that three-sided instrument was for as they created a traffic roundabout to scale.
High school students in the Summer Transportation Institute were similarly amazed by the concepts and planning that go into creating a roundabout.

Both groups were part of innovative summer programs hosted by the National Transportation Center at Morgan State University to bring awareness of opportunities in the transportation field and the STEM concepts students need to prepare for them.

Morgan is a member of the Mid-Atlantic Transportation Sustainability University Transportation Center (MATS UTC), a consortium that aggressively supports workforce development - and that development starts long before a student reaches college.

Six education professionals attended the 2015 Summer Teacher Transportation Institute, a two-week long workshop in which they researched traffic roundabouts and then created one of their own.

"Whenever you do something yourself, you are more apt to do it in the classroom," said Ray Tamoshunas, a teacher at Gilmore Elementary School, adding that he enjoyed guessing what was the best approach, then having his decisions challenged and ultimately backing them up with data.

Charles Hicks, a math teacher, noted that students can be presented with real-world problems that they can solve with STEM concepts. "I'll be talking to students about what angle should a vehicle come in [to a roundabout] to get a different speed."
Ebony Myers-White, a school counselor at Carver Vocational Technical High School, said, "the best part of my experience has been visiting the State Highway Administration and seeing the different careers that you didn't have to have a degree for. A safety engineer can start as a tech, get that degree and grow to a senior level."

Twenty-five high school students participated in four-week 2015 Summer Transportation Institute, now in its 19th year at Morgan, designed to expose them to all aspects of transportation.

"I learned that transportation is more than just the crossing guard or the bus driver - it's what makes the world go round in terms of goods and services," said Tyjae Jordan, a student at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.

The students took a boat trip to see maritime transportation, experienced a driving simulator, visited aviation museums and also studied traffic roundabouts and then created one of their own.

Zack Burke, who attends Randallstown High School, said, "What I mostly got out of it was the exposure, all the field trips. I liked the aerospace part - I looked at being a pilot or an aeronautical engineer."

Both programs concluded with a banquet on July 24. Gregory Murrill, division administrator with the Federal Highway Administration, was the keynote speaker.

"It is my hope, especially for the teachers, that you will continue the work to help students be successful in math and engineering to be prepared for the opportunities ahead," he said. To the students, he said, "I hope that you will continue to explore the opportunities in transportation for almost anything imaginable."