Yesterday, I had the pleasure of addressing the extraordinary group of young people gathered at the AEM Construction Challenge Championship in Las Vegas. The Construction Challenge is a hands-on competition where teams of high school students work together to solve infrastructure problems with construction solutions.
This year’s championship consisted of two challenges. The first, Road Rumble, required each team to build a headquarters using construction materials obtained by a radio-controlled piece of transportation equipment they designed. The second, H2 Oh Yeah!, challenged the teams to research water policy and infrastructure issues and compete against each other in a quiz show.
Teams compete in the Road Rumble challenge.
The contests required each student to use their logical and technical skills to advance. And while it was a closely fought battle the entire day, team OH13OH from the Miami Valley Career Technology Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, ultimately took home the overall 2011 Construction Challenge prize.
But win or lose, each student who made it to Las Vegas already accomplished a great deal in my book. Over 1,000 teens competed in regional qualifying rounds in January for a chance to advance to the national championship. The 144 students from 24 high schools who competed this week represented the very best and brightest.
And I delivered a message to them straight from President Obama: Even though the competition may be over, we’re counting on you to keep up your studies in science, technology, engineering, and math.
These teens, and so many like them across the country, are the next generation of leaders we’re going to be looking toward as we build the 21st century transportation systems we all need and deserve.
And that's why President Obama is committed to strengthening our education system--so that every child in America has the tools they need to not just shape their own future, but to shape America’s future as well.
The fact is, there’s no greater economic policy than one that invests in our children's future and helps America out-educate the world. And there's never been a better time to be in transportation.