​Become a Volunteer ​​Mentor​

Overview

As a TRAC™ and RIDES Volunteer, you have emb​arked on a challenging, yet hi​ghly rewarding task--becoming a role model to stud​ents and a trusted advisor to the teachers who are in the classroom. Our volunteers are department of transportation professionals and civil engin​eers or private sector industry professionals with a keen interest in transportation, engineering, and the TRAC™ and RIDES Programs. The typical volunteer is a self-confiden​t, motivated, articulate person who is excited about his or her field and can project that excitement to others.

So what does a TRAC™ and RIDES volunteer do? With teachers, their role is as an advisor, demonstrating how activities work and showing how to apply them to what the students are learning in that teacher's class. With students, volunteers are role models who answer questions about transportation careers and who help students understand the connection between concepts learned in the classroom and how those concepts are applied in the "real" world. But, most importantly, TRAC™ and RIDES volunteers lead by example, inspiring students to believe in themselves.

TRAC™​ and RIDES rely on the dedication and expertise of its classroom volunteers to operate successful programs. Simply put, without volunteers like you, TRAC™ and RIDES could not exist. Volunteers are the solid base upon which the  programs are built. They are the frontline individuals who represent TRAC™ and RIDES with teachers, students and others who come into contact with the program. They demonstrate transportation concepts, answer questions and, most importantly, show students that exciting career possibilities in transportation fields and that they can aspire to higher goals.

Training: Learning Through Doing

It's a well-known maxim that people learn best by doing, rather than observing. TRAC™ and RIDES ensures that, long before volunteers ever step foot in a classroom, they receive intensive instruction that includes:

  1. Explanation of what the TRAC™ and RIDES programs are and how they work.
  2. Use of the TRAC™ and RIDES modules, activities, and technology.
  3. Integration of TRAC™ and RIDE'S activities into classroom curriculum.

Training usually takes place during a day-long training session. Depending on the circumstances in your geographic area, this will occur either in a convenient central location with other volunteers or in a one-on-one environment in the participating school.

Either way, you will have learned -- through doing -- what you need to know to effectively guide the teachers and motivate the students who take part in TRAC™ and RIDES. 

FAQs

What are the TRAC and RIDES Programs?

TRAC™ (TRAnsportation and Civil engineering) and RIDES (Roadways In Developing Elementary Students) are hands-on education outreach programs designed for use in science, math, technology, and engineering classes. By engaging students in solving real-world problems, sending volunteer mentors into the classroom, and supplying teachers with the needed materials, TRAC™ and RIDES connects middle and high school students to the work world of transportation professionals and civil engineers, and inspires them to consider careers in these fields.

How can I become a TRAC™ and RID volunteer?

The TRAC™ and RIDES Programs are not-for-profit, self-governing entity of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). Generally, although not exclusively,  volunteers are department of transportation professionals and civil engineers or private sector industry professionals with a keen interest in transportation, engineering, and the TRAC™​ and RIDES Programs. If you work with a state department of transportation, call TRAC Manager, Linda Clifton (662-416-1632) to see if your state already participates in the program. 

Why do the TRAC™ and RIDES programs specifically target the transportation field and civil engineering?

Employment shortfalls, workforce shortages, labor gap, whatever you call it, the transportation industry and civil engineering fields are experiencing it.  By introducing students to careers in the transportation industry at an early age, students will be prepared for the transportation workforce of the future.

What does a volunteer do?

With teachers, their role is as an advisor, demonstrating how TRAC™ and RIDE'S activities work and showing how to apply them to what the students are learning in that teacher's class. With students, volunteers are role models who answer questions about transportation careers and who help students understand the connection between concepts learned in the classroom and how those concepts are applied in the "real" world. Most importantly, volunteers lead by example, inspiring students to believe in themselves.

What grade levels do volunteers work with?

Currently, the TRAC™ program is geared toward students in grades 7-12.  RIDES targets students in grades K-8.

What type of time commitment would be required?

Generally speaking, volunteers set their own timelines that work with their own individual schedules, allowing maximum flexibility.  Most volunteers spend one-two hours with a class about four-six times per year. And if students enter any state, regional or national engineering competitions, volunteers will usually take additional time after school to help coach them on their project for the event.

​It's been a while since I reviewed high school math and science. Would I be required to teach anything at that level?

No, the classroom teachers handle the basics of math and science. TRAC™ and RIDES Volunteers simply demonstrate whatever scientific principles (for example, Newton's laws of motion) or mathematical formulas (such as those found in CAD software to aid basic road design) that an engineer or transportation professional uses daily in their job.


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