The Transportation and Civil Engineering, or TRAC, program is a hands-on education program designed for use in science, technology, engineering and math classes. By engaging students in solving real-world problems, TRAC connects students to the work world of transportation and inspires them to consider careers in transportation and civil engineering.
TRAC is an integral part of the ICT II Curriculum in Mississippi and consists of two modules: Mag Lev and Bridge Builder.
“I learned how to get along with people, and they ended up becoming my best friends.” Caitlyn Bailey, Chemical Engineering Student at Mississippi State University
The Bridge Builder module allows students to interactively design and test structural models of bridges. This module also includes all the materials necessary for students to take the bridges they design with the software and construct actual models of them using balsa wood.
Magnetic Levitation, or Mag Lev, may sound like something out of a science fiction novel, but the fact is this technology is relevant in today’s middle school science and high school physics classes. With the Mag Lev module, students put magnetic levitation cars through their paces while learning Newton’s First and Second Laws of Motion with six interactive activities.
Bridge Building Competition
The highlight of the TRAC program is the annual Statewide Bridge Building Competition held each spring in Jackson. The competition is divided into three groups: 7th-8th grade, 9th-10th grade and 11th-12th grade.
Initially, MDOT provides each team with the TRAC Challenge Entry Kit, materials and guidelines to construct a bridge. Each participating team then submits a portfolio with their bridge design.
On the day of the competition, the teams will present their PowerPoint presentation to a panel of judges made up of MDOT engineers and test their bridges for strength-to-weight ratio. The competition is another way to showcase how Mississippi’s students are learning about transportation while studying science, technology, engineering and math.
Mississippi has also had teams win top honors in the National Bridge Competition held each year at the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Spring Conference.
Teachers wishing to utilize TRAC in their classroom attend a day long training session conducted by National Board Certified math and science instructors who have sponsored teams in the state and national competition. Read more on how to sign-up for training in your area!