Breakthroughs in ITS have opened doors to life, time, and cost-saving changes across transportation. With the proven benefits of integrating these technologies, there is a growing need to build up workforce familiarity. From terminology to operation, better understanding of ITS can translate directly into better outcomes for commuters and communities. By taking steps to see ITS introduced in STEM-focused curricula at both the secondary and post-secondary levels, transportation practitioners can increase the size and proficiency of the future workforce. To attract students to ITS as a career option – and direct their interest toward clear, accessible opportunities – will require specialized strategies, engaging and supporting a large and diverse pool of students that includes under-representative populations in transportation.
While these strategies encompass students living in a range of communities, rural practitioners might have particular interest in steering interested students toward potential careers in local ITS. By taking early action to cultivate talent and open doors, the future transportation workforce will enjoy greater proficiency in both ITS and the unique challenges of rural transportation.
During the 2021-2022 Academic year, the National Network for the Transportation Workforce (NNTW) hosted six Transportation STEM webinars on this topic, featuring panels of professionals, faculty, and students. The first was targeted to College and University students, the second to Community College and Tech School students, and the final four to Grades 6-12 students. All six recorded sessions can be accessed at this link.