UofM’s SETWC Publishes Two Transportation Workforce Playbooks for USDOT

August 26, 2020 - The Southeast Transportation Workforce Center (SETWC) at the University of Memphis Herff College of Engineering has published two transportation workforce-focused “playbooks” as the result of project funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration.  

SETWC, in conjunction with numerous public and private partners, has developed the “Women in Transportation Playbook: Inspire, Engage and Empower,” which highlights best practices and strategies for increasing the number of women pursuing transportation professions, and the “T-STEM Academy Playbook,” which showcases the development of the T-STEM Academy at East High School in Memphis as the framework for creating a successful transportation-focused high school program.

The Women in Transportation Playbook focuses on adding girls and women from K-12 to the existing workforce and provides a set of best practice examples from a variety of organizations that can be replicated and built upon in other communities. In addition, the initiative has led to SETWC and its collaborators developing:

• Multidisciplinary industry-academia-community partnerships
• Diversity-focused conference sessions and workshops
• Transportation-focused outreach programs for women and girls
• Multiple journal publications and book chapters focused on women in transportation

“The transportation workforce of the future must be robust, diverse and well-prepared to address complex challenges and innovations,” said Victoria McDaniel, client and talent solutions associate for Vaco Memphis. “Gender parity plays an important role in achieving this vision and requires a variety of interventions and supports, examples of which are detailed in SETWC’s Women in Transportation Playbook.”  

The T-STEM Academy Playbook is designed to be used as a guide to enable communities to develop a plan for a sustainable transportation-STEM model at the high school level. Locally, the East High T-STEM Academy was developed through a collaborative effort between Shelby County Schools (SCS), SETWC and a host of other academic and industry partners dedicated to creating a unique experience to prepare students for the transportation workforce. Highlights of the T-STEM Academy Playbook include:

• Successful strategies for all stages of program development, from concept to reality
• Best practices for maintaining partner engagement
• Lessons learned that are valuable for informing future programs

“The T-STEM Academy exists today because of the shared vision and partnership between SCS, SETWC and countless industry partners,” said Lischa Brooks, executive principal of East High T-STEM Academy. “Our students benefit in so many ways: curricular enhancements, access to cutting-edge technology and the development of robust student success programming. Together, as evident in the T-STEM Academy Playbook, we are creating a model for success that can be replicated nationwide.”

“The success of both the women’s transportation workforce and T-STEM educational initiatives has taught us that collaboration is the key,” said Dr. Stephanie Ivey, director of the Southeast Transportation Workforce and associate dean for research at the Herff College of Engineering. “SETWC is grateful to the more than 60 public and private organizations who have partnered with us along the way and continue to bring a wealth of expertise to our programming. From the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis to CN to Cummins Inc., to Vaco Memphis, SSR Inc., the Tennessee Section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, FedEx, the Tennessee Department of Transportation and so many others, thank you for your contributions and continued guidance.”   

The Southeast Transportation Workforce Center (SETWC) at the University of Memphis Herff College of Engineering is one of five regional centers of excellence that together comprise the National Network for the Transportation Workforce (NNTW). SETWC has a broad transportation workforce agenda, but also provides specific expertise related to diversity in transportation, transportation operations and freight transportation workforce development. The NNTW is dedicated to advancing research and best practice to move the needle related to transportation workforce issues. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) founded the NNTW and each of the regional centers via a competitive grant process. For more information about SETWC and to view the playbooks, visit www.memphis.edu/setwc.