13th Summer Transportation Institute held at ECSU

Dr. Kuldeep Rawat
August 06, 2012

13th-summer-transportatio Fourteen high school students participated in the 13th Summer Transportation Institute held in the Department of Technology at Elizabeth City State University. The four-week program, held from June 9 to July 9, brought to campus students from Camden, Chowan and Pasquotank counties. Students are selected based on their grades and their interest in science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics.

ECSU professors Dr. Ellis Lawrence and Dr. Kuldeep Rawat received a $55,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration to sponsor the institute. Students were introduced to applications of computer-aided design (CAD), graphical programming, computerized data acquisition systems and circuit design, as well as documentation as it relates to transportation. Lawrence, a professor in the university's Department of Technology, has directed the summer program for the past 12 years that brought high school students to ECSU for a challenging summer research program. The program, which also is supported by a grant from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), promotes careers in the transportation industry. Many of those careers call for strong skills in math, science and technology.

The institute exposes students to various modes of transportation by land, air and water while incorporating safety topics. It includes activity-based presentations by professionals who work in areas related to the transportation mode being studied and incorporates field trips to businesses and government agencies. Students also participated in numerous hands-on activities, such as laboratory activities, project design, construction and testing culminating in competition.

Rawat, who serves as chair of ECSU's Department of Technology and co-director of the Summer Transportation Institute, said the grants and the summer program are significant achievements for the ongoing development of the university's Technology and Aviation Science programs. The Summer Transportation Institute rewards students for excelling in summer research projects, field experiments and class projects. Lawrence credits the Federal Highway Administration and NCDOT for funding a top-notch program that excites students. Without the funding, Lawrence said the students could not have learned so much about the transportation industry.

Rawat said once students complete the program, they are more aware of how far a summer pre-college outreach program, such as STI, can take them. The program proved to be more difficult than many of the youngsters expected, he said, but the challenge was good for them and they enjoyed it. Students also learned how math and science can be applied to real-world engineering and technology areas. Rawat emphasized that the Summer Transportation Institute would not have been complete without field trips highlighting the progress made by pioneers in the industry and showing the challenges and rewards professionals currently in the field experience each day.

A trip to the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Dare County, N.C., provided an important historical lesson for the students. They also visited NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., and NCDOT's Division of Aviation and Division of Traffic. Guest speakers at these field trips highlighted career options in the transportation field for the youths.

Lawrence and Rawat were assisted during the institute by two undergraduate interns, William Wilken and Raynard Wright. Both are seniors at ECSU majoring in Engineering Technology. Funded by a $7,000 grant from NCDOT, the ECSU interns also conducted research on applications of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) or remotely piloted aircrafts (RPAs) in the modern transportation industry. Rawat and Lawrence will accompany the interns to Raleigh on August 10 to present their research to NCDOT officials and other research interns from nine of the state's Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

For more information about ECSU's Summer Transportation Institute and the application process, contact Dr. Ellis Lawrence at eelawrence@mail.ecsu.edu, or Dr. Kuldeep Rawat at ksrawat@mail.ecsu.edu.