Claflin University welcomed Curtis Thomas, regional field administrator for the United States Department of Transportation, as guest speaker for Summer Transportation Institute luncheon Tuesday.
Thomas, a native of North Augusta, serves in an appointed position in Washington D.C. for the USDOT. He told students that it takes education, courage and commitment to be successful in the transportation industry.
“The Summer Transportation Institute represents the hopes and dreams for the future of this industry,” he said. “One in six careers are in the transportation industry. We need people like you and me in these positions making decisions”
The four week institute, which began on June 17, exposes high school students to in-depth information related to the transportation industry, career opportunities in the transportation industry and encourages them to prepare for and enter transportation careers. Officials say the supply of skilled and professional workers in the transportation industry is expected to fall below the demand in the next few decades; therefore, there is an urgent need to encourage youth to major in engineering, technology, and other transportation-related fields in college to prepare for careers as transportation professionals.
“The program helps to identify and start to develop the skills that will produce a diverse and well qualified workforce for the 21st Century,” said Claflin STI Project Director Gwendolyn Phillips.
Nineteen high school students are participating in the institute. The program is in collaboration with South Carolina State University. Adrienne Cooper is the project director from S.C. State. Students attending the institute have attended various transportation workshops and participated in field trips to the Columbia Metropolitan Airport and the Port of Charleston.
The institute continues through Friday and Lauris Finney, District Operations Manager for the United Parcel Service (UPS), will discuss transportation logistics on Thursday, July 11, at 1:15 p.m. in GTK Room 121. The Federal Highway Administration (FHA), Office of Civil Rights, the South Carolina Division Office of FHA and South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) sponsor the Institute.
There is diversity in just about every transportation agency, including ours, but education is key,” Thomas said. “You have to stay in the game of education if you want a career in transportation.”