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East Union competes in National TRAC™ Bridge Building Challenge

TRAC Bridge Building East Union Attendance Center team: Pictured from left: AASHTO National TRAC™ Advisory Co-Chair and MDOT District 1 Maintenance Engineer Matt Dunn; Noah Watts; Kye Roberts; Will Duley; Team Sponsor, Holly Bailey; MDOT Chief Engineer James Williams; and, AASHTO TRAC™ Program Manager Linda Clifton.

Jackson, Miss. – Six student teams from Mississippi recently competed in the National Transportation and Civil Engineering (TRAC™) Bridge Building Challenge at the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Spring Meeting in Portland, Maine. A record number 18 teams competed this year. They were selected from more than 250 teams applying around the country.

“The U.S. government estimates there will be an eight-percent jump in the demand for civil-engineers by the year 2024,” said Bud Wright, AASHTO executive director. “That’s just seven years from now—so getting young people interested in civil engineering is important if we’re going to keep pace with the demand to rebuild and modernize our ageing highways, bridges, and transit systems. AASHTO and its sponsors support the annual TRAC and RIDES competition because we know it can be the catalyst to a career in civil engineering.”

Representing Mississippi in the 7th-8th grade division were “The Mississippi Architects” from Northwest Rankin Middle School in Flowood and “ZNL Engineering” from Guntown Middle School in Lee County. “TBG Designs” from Moss Point Career and Technical Education Center in Jackson County and “The Three Engineers” from East Union Attendance Center in Blue Springs represented the state in the 9th-10th grade division. “Engineering Knights” from Moss Point Career and Technical Education Center and “‘Tachie Tech’ Bridge Builders” from Mantachie High School in Itawamba County represented the state in the 11th-12th grade division.

“Engineering Knights” from Moss Point Career and Technical Education Center placed second in the 11th-12th grade division.

Teams compete by building miniature bridges using balsa wood, glue and string. The bridges are tested for strength and design. Teams make detailed presentations about their bridges before a national panel of judges.

“This TRAC™ competition gives students the opportunity to learn about bridge building through hands-on experience,” said Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) Executive Director Melinda McGrath, P.E. “The goal of the program is to inspire young students to explore the world of engineering while they have fun learning about the functionality of bridges in a transportation system.”

TRAC™ is an education outreach program of MDOT and introduces students to a variety of career opportunities in the field of engineering. The program teaches students how to apply math and science concepts to help identify and resolve engineering barriers in the transportation industry.

This competition displays how Mississippi’s students are learning about transportation while excelling in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. For more information about MDOT’s STEM education outreach programs, visit GoMDOT.com/stemeducation.

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