UMKC Opens Urban Teens' Eyes to New Futures in Transportation Careers
Kansas City Summer Transportation Institute provides summer learning experience to remember
For four weeks this summer, two dozen local teens are getting the opportunity to peerbehind the curtain of Kansas City’s transportation industries – and possibly get a glimpse their own futures.
The 8th annual Kansas City Summer Transportation Institute (KC-STI), hosted by the University of Missouri–Kansas City (UMKC) Institute for Human Development offers full scholarships to students from local high schools to attend and discover new and exciting career pathways in transportation industries – land, air, rail and water.
The KC-STI is one of approximately 50 similar university-hosted programs in the nation, and is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration Office of Civil Rights. This year’s KC-STI program began on June 20 and runs through July 18.
“Through the KC-STI program, we bring kids from all over the KC metro area together to experience four weeks of life on a college campus,” said Derrick Willis, UMKC KC-STI project director. “Even though UMKC is in many of their backyards, they’ve never had a reason to come on campus before or understood what was here for them. The Kansas City Summer Transportation Institute opens their minds to possibilities for their futures, but even more important, it teaches them what it will take to be successful in that future.”
KC-STI students engage in four weeks of hands-on learning, daily site visits to transportation-related businesses and government agencies, lectures from guest speakers, life planning exercises and guidance, and leadership development. Hands-on science and engineering activities take place on the UMKC campus in partnership with the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering.
Scheduled site visits for the students include the Missouri Department of Transportation, Whiteman Air Force Base, Downtown Airport Traffic Control Tower, Garmin International, General Motors, Black and Veatch, Center Point Intermodal facility, Airline History Museum, Union Station/KC Rail, Metropolitan Community College School of Business and Technology, Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, and more.
The UMKC program is the only summer transportation institute that reaches out to students with disabilities as a major part of its recruitment efforts. Students with and without disabilities participate together in every segment of the transportation institute. Over 140 students have participated since the program’s inception. Willis believes the students gain even more than new knowledge.
“To see the relationships build over the four weeks is amazing, particularly for kids without disabilities who’ve never before had an opportunity to interact with kids with disabilities,” said Willis. “They bond.”
KC-STI is one of over 50 projects of the UMKC Institute for Human Development, an applied research and interdisciplinary training center. For over 33 years, IHD has exemplified UMKC’s mission by demonstrating research to practice through community partnerships for effective social change. For more information, visit www.ihd.umkc.edu.