On Feb. 4th, the Kansas City Chapter of Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) honored the legacy of Garrett A. Morgan and his contributions to the transportation industry by exposing some students from the Topeka, Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri school districts to the work of transportation planners, engineers, architects and others. The Garrett A. Morgan Shadow Day Program was developed under the Clinton administration by Rodney E. Slater, the former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation. COMTOKC hosts the Garrett A. Morgan Shadow Day each year to encourage young people to pursue transportation-related careers and help grow and sustain a workforce to meet the technical demands of the 21st century.
As part of the Shadow Day, 12 students visited the MARC offices to learn about MARC’s role in urban and transportation planning from Ron Achelpohl (Director of Transportation and Environment). The Students also learned about all the different facets of engineering from Lamin Nyang (Taliaferro & Browne) and Vernal Stewart (SE3). Karl Faust and another student from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) gave their experiences as college students and discussed the benefits of joining organizations like the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).
The students then visited the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) to learn how they run their transit operations and how to drive a bus by operating a bus simulator. The simulator taught the students how difficult a bus driver’s job can be and that these people should be appreciated.
The students then rode two different RIDEKC buses to the Kansas City Streetcar Authority Maintenance Facility where Tom Gerund gave them a tour of the facility and they were able to view the interior of the one of the streetcars. The students learned why a streetcar may be valuable to a central business district and how a Transportation Development District (TDD) is formed.
After enjoying lunch at Minsky’s Pizza, the students were taken to Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport, to learn about air traffic controlling and all the different decisions that goes into operating an aircraft and an airport.
The transportation industry can provide great career opportunities for young people, and the demand for both traditional and new skills is expanding. As many experienced members of the transportation workforce approach retirement, the need for skilled, technical workers will grow. Transportation-related industries offer career opportunities for young people in planning, engineering and other related fields. MARC was pleased to participate in the Garrett A. Morgan Shadow Day and share information with local students about these opportunities.
The Mid-America Regional Council also covered the event here.