University of Texas-Pan America student Amy Gonzalez shows how perseverance, determination, and individuality can lead to success. Gonzalez is on the fast-track to graduation with a degree in mechanical engineering. Her focus on railroad safety research to prevent train derailments will not only provide many opportunities for a successful career in transportation, but will allow her to make an impact by improving railway safety for rail operators, everyday citizens, and the environment. But to get where she is today, she had to tackle a number of obstacles that could have prevented her from achieving her goals.
David Strickland is the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a part of the United States Department of Transportation. This means he is the highest automotive safety official in the nation, and it is his job to ensure that the country's roads are as safe as possible.
Erik Seither began his career in the shipping industry with a desire to set sail and see the world. His educational path in marine science and engineering led him to join the Merchant Marines as a marine engineer after college. He spent 10 years traveling the seas, becoming an expert in the technical aspects of shipping and learning the ropes of the business. Today, he is the Executive Director of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME).
A Career with Global Horizons
Students looking for a challenging career in transportation with a wide range of employment opportunities should check out supply chain management, according to Arlaidra Salter, a North Carolina State University (NCSU) graduate student studying for a transportation degree with a focus in that field.
"I don't feel like I can go wrong with this major really," Salter said. "There are a lot of different things you can do. In any interests that you have, there's something that supply chain has to offer for you."
A Call to Action
Inadequate road maintenance is a continuous problem on American Indian tribal reservations in the United States. Sherwin Racehorse, an Eastern Washington University student originally from the Fort Hall Indian Reservation in Idaho, is dedicating his career in transportation planning to improving the condition of tribal roads.
Racehorse is a returning college student who has already spent 16 years in the workforce as a transportation planner for tribal governments. He is currently the President of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society at EWU, a member of the Association of American Indian Business Leaders, and is actively involved in tribal government and reservation culture throughout the northwest region of the U.S.
Advances in computer and communications technology are opening worlds of new possibilities for solving the safety-related problems that have existed since the first automobile was invented over 200 years ago, such as how to prevent accidents, consume less energy, and make travel faster. As director of Safety Research and Development for the United States Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Monique Evans is leading the way in some truly cutting-edge applications of transportation research and technology that are not only helping to make road-based transportation safer than ever before, but are dramatically changing the future of driving as we know it.
Safety is On the Agenda
Students like Aaron Zimmerman are steering the course of transportation safety for the future. Zimmerman is a graduate student at George Mason University, studying transportation policy, operations, and logistics. Zimmerman discovered transportation through a course during his undergraduate program in college. This path eventually led to his studying abroad in South Africa during graduate school, where he was able to meet with government officials and professors to discuss public policy issues relating to transportation.
"Every day was packed full of sessions between the government officials and the professors at the university," he said. We explored all kinds of policy areas, such as crime, health care, education, transportation. All the major pillars to a functioning country."
Patrick Hasson, the Safety and Design Team Manager in the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA's) Resource Center, has been a professional in the transportation field for 25 years. Even after all that time, Hasson still enjoys what he does, because transportation is just as vital as ever, if not more so. "It's fundamental to everything we do and everyone's lives ? whether you walk, or ride a bike, or drive a car ? plus flying and getting out on the water, everything is transportation. We all rely on it for everything that we do."
Chris Mazzota is conducting work for the Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation at Rutgers University, while working toward his master's and Ph.D. degrees in structural engineering. He is currently involved in a project for the nondestructive testing of bridges. Nondestructive testing is useful because it allows engineers to assess the condition of a bridge without causing damage to the bridge. Nondestructive test methods can also reduce the need for traffic closures during the testing process. There are many techniques for this type of testing, including visual inspections, x-rays, and ultrasounds, just to name a few. While visual inspections are the most common, it is important to develop other methods that can detect structural deterioration that bridge inspectors might not see during their evaluation. One only needs to look at bridge collapses in the past to understand the importance of thorough inspections.