Graduate Students Demonstrate Pavement Basics, Encourage Careers in Transportation

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Civil and Environmental Engineering graduate students can often be found at all hours of the day at the Advanced Transportation Research and Engineering Lab (ATREL). But this spring, they’ve taken their research on the road to share their enthusiasm about transportation and encourage younger students to consider careers in the field.

On March 14 and 15, the students staffed an exhibit at the 94th Annual Engineering Open House, which was held on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. ICT students demonstrated how aggregates are combined to become asphalt pavement. After the demonstration, visitors were invited to create their own “edible asphalt” with pudding, coconut, and candy. At the event, more than 250 exhibitors reached out to thousands of students, educators, and the general public, who came from all over Illinois.

Then, on April 9, ICT students and staff participated in the Illinois Department of Transportation’s District 8 Career Day in Granite City, Illinois (near St. Louis), an event attended by approximately 350 middle and high schoolers. The purpose of the event was to introduce students to various careers in the transportation industry. The “edible asphalt” activity was a hit with students and their teachers. A high school junior from Belleville, Illinois, said, “It was cool to learn about how pavement is made. I never really thought much about the research that goes into making the roads we drive on every day.” He says he’s interested in majoring in civil engineering and hopes to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Each year, IDOT holds career fairs throughout the state to introduce students to the field of transportation and showcase careers in the industry.