Last month, I wrote about the Real World Design Challenge (RWDC) where high school students work as a team to enhance aircraft performance and fuel-efficiency. Over the past four years, thousands of teams have participated in RWDC's Aviation competition. And at a recent WTS International reception, I was happy to join RWDC Project Director Dr. Ralph K. Coppola in launching the latest Real World Design Challenge competition: a Surface Transportation challenge.
DOT is partnering with RWDC to build on the recent success of our Transportation YOU program, a hands-on mentoring initiative that puts young women between the ages of 13 and 18 directly in contact with women in STEM careers. Transportation YOU offers interactive field experiences in transportation-related professions. And it opens the eyes of students to the wide spectrum of career options within their reach in transportation.
We established Transportation YOU in conjunction with WTS International because, as we rebuild our nation's transportation systems, the opportunities for young women are enormous. We see rising demand for environmental engineers who can continue to increase fuel-efficiency, for materials scientists who can develop new road pavement technologies, and for aerospace professionals ready to take on the challenges of commercial space flight.
Now, this push is not just about helping the next generation get its careers started on the right foot. It's also about making sure America has in place enough talented professionals to follow in the footsteps of today’s transportation engineers and problem-solvers currently at work on our nation’s toughest challenges.
And the Real World Design Challenge Surface Transportation Competition offers us one more way to attract students into the exciting world of transportation.
The inaugural Surface Transportation challenge asks participants to design a passenger motor coach for enhanced fuel efficiency. Teams can sign up from anywhere in the United States, and the winning team will earn a free trip to Washington, DC, to present its work.
RWDC has grown tremendously since it began in 2008 with the goal of increasing the number of young people who join the STEM workforce. And the surface transportation pilot will get even more high school students prepared for--and excited about--STEM careers.
That's good for them and good for all of us.