This is a press release from MDOT.
Jackson, Miss. - For a second, imagine how different the world would be if there were no engineers. Engineers plan and design so much of what we interact with in our daily lives from technology to tools, buildings to bridges. During the week of February 18, the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) is joining over 70 engineering and education organizations, along with 50 corporations and government agencies to recognize engineers and how the work they do benefits our everyday lives.
Every year Engineers Week, or “eWeek,” is set aside to celebrate today’s engineers and the engineers of the future. This year’s theme is: ‘Engineers: Inspiring Wonder’. This theme is a call to recognize the people who create amazing feats such as astoundingly tall skyscrapers, autonomous vehicles and dams that generate green energy for cities and towns.
Transportation, whether it’s on highways, railroads, or even to Mars, depends on the skills and creativity of engineers. Over 300 engineers work at MDOT to plan and design Mississippi’s highways, oversee maintenance and construction, ensure that bridges function properly, maintain hydraulics that divert water from roadways, monitor traffic and many other jobs that keep Mississippi’s highways safe and functioning for the traveling public.
“MDOT has skilled engineers that work hard to maintain Mississippi’s highway system,” said Melinda McGrath, P.E., MDOT executive director. “Without engineers, many of the transportation resources the traveling public relies on each day would not exist.”
Because engineers play such a vital role in the agency’s mission, MDOT understands the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) in education. MDOT adopted the Transportation and Civil Engineering (TRAC) program from the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) in 1998. TRAC is a program that brings engineering to life for students in grades 7-12. TRAC creates real-world transportation issues for students to solve which helps foster interest in careers in civil engineering.
The Roadways Into Developing Elementary Students (RIDES) program was created by MDOT in 2004 for students in grades K-8. RIDES is a STEM-based education program designed to prepare students for the workplace of the future by using hands-on critical thinking skills. In 2011, AASHTO became a partner with MDOT to distribute the program to states around the country.
TRAC and RIDES are only a few of the exciting STEM education programs that MDOT supports. These programs are geared towards ‘inspiring wonder’ in young people to dream big and explore possible careers in engineering and transportation in Mississippi.
“The engineers MDOT has today are important, but the engineers of tomorrow are critical as well,” said James Williams, P.E., MDOT deputy executive director and chief engineer. “Programs like Eweek, TRAC and RIDES influence creativity and encourage young people to dream big and reach their goals. Since Mississippi’s future lies in the hands of students, MDOT wants to help prepare those students in any way possible.”