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CSU-Pueblo hosts Colorado Summer Transportation Institute

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This year marked the second year that the CSU-Pueblo campus hosted the Colorado Summer Transportation Institute, sponsored by the Colorado Department of Transportation.The institute is financed by the Federal Highway Administration and is a two -week summer program, geared at secondary school students.  Faculty members of the CSU-Pueblo civil engineering department facilitate the program.

“The key word is secondary school students, which can include middle school and high school students,” STI Director Sylvester Kalevela said.

The STI program graduated 14 students on June 20 and a closing ceremony took place in the chemistry building.  Hector Carrasco, dean of the College of Education, Engineering and Professional Studies, spoke briefly at the ceremony, congratulating the participants and welcoming them to the CSU-Pueblo campus in the future.

“Two weeks ago I was so excited to see so many young people who want to make a difference, to yourselves, your families and hopefully the world,” Debra Gallegos, representing CDOT, said.

The STI program originated in the early 90s and was developed in South Carolina as a result of a partnership between the state university, department of transportation and the federal highway administration. 

By 1998, Congress authorized the funding for the STI program, under Section 1208 of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21 st century. This allowed the program to expand to other states.

The over-all goal of the program, according to Kalevela, is to reach students interested in the field of engineering and expose them to opportunities that exist in the transportation field, before they hit college age. The program also encourages the participation of underrepresented students, like female and Hispanic students.

The students participate in a busy two-week schedule, with classes and activities starting at 9:00 am and finishing at 4:00pm everyday. Professionals working in the field of transportation came as guest speakers and the class took field trips to gain hands on experience with other professionals and the types of environments that they work in, Kalevela said.

When the students were in the classroom, building various projects and conducting field work, in addition to Kalevela, they were under the supervision of Professor Wade Bailey and Assistant Professor Michael Mincic. 

“I always say that I’m here to teach them, but really I learn from them,” Bailey said at the closing ceremony before the presentation of the certificates of achievement to the students.

The professors did not assign letter grades to the students, but they did choose to honor four students at the ceremony with the distinction of being the top of the class. Jared Espinoza, Juan Chavez, Martha Mayo and Cody Pierce were those four.

The keynote speaker of the ceremony was Robert Leverington from Leverington and Associates, which is a private company. He addressed the students with comments on leadership and gave them tips on the ten traits that leaders commonly possess.