In the summer of 2007, Mississippi State University’s Bagley College of Engineering was awarded a grant from the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) to host the 2007 Mississippi Summer Transportation Institute (MSTI). MSTI was originally a three-week residential program for 19 rising high school sophomores and juniors. The focus of MSTI was geared toward exploring how science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are related to transportation and career opportunities in transportation. MSTI included hands-on activities, development of communication skills, and utilization of technology and skills required in today’s workforce.
Field-trips to the Nissan plant, Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT), and the Columbus, MS Air Force Base exposed students to real-world applications of STEM and introduced them to a wide range of careers in transportation. The curriculum included sessions about structural systems, system illustration (CAD), transportation system layout, hydraulic engineering, environmental and water resources engineering, pavement materials design, building materials design, and traffic management. Leadership training and team building activities were also included. According to student feedback, there was an increase in interest across all subject areas after their participating in the MSTI. Post-program follow up also suggest that the MSTI had a positive effect on encouraging participating students to take more science and math courses.
When asked how MSTI will influence their career choices, some of the participants specifically noted overall desires to become engineers. The more specific comments included, “I will most likely be an engineer and MSTI has helped with that choice.” “This camp has enforced my interests in engineering…” “This camp definitely made me want to be an engineer.” A paper chronicling the first year of MSTI's inception can be found in MSU Publications.
The MSTI Summer Camp was met with a great deal of success. Though the camp is now only two weeks long, it still strives to take 20 students and expand their knowledge of the world of engineering. We have had many students over the years insist that not only are their experiences with MSTI engaging and informative for future decisions, but it also helps expand their families and the community's understanding of the importance of engineering and infrastructure found in every day life.
Though applications are now closed, you can find more information about MSTI and other engineering camps offered by the university by visiting K-12 Outreach.