A group of 18 high school students with a wide range of interests and backgrounds participated in the free, weeklong CAV Career Pathways Camp on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus in Minneapolis.
During the camp, students explored connected and automated (CAV) technology and discovered a cornucopia of career opportunities in an industry that is helping to shape the future of transportation. Campers had hands-on opportunities with automated vehicles, viewed CAV technology in development or in use at various metro locations, and spent time discussing technical details as well as broader policy issues with leading practitioners and U of M researchers.
“The networking opportunities here are incredible because they’re so much higher and so much stronger than the connections you could get from a robotics competition or a debate tournament,” says Aten-Wa Theba, a St. Paul Academy senior with designs on becoming a Formula One racing driver. “To sit in front of someone who works at the highest level [at] a company that performs at the highest level is absolutely my goal because I hope that I can perform at the highest level as well.”
The CAV campers were among the first to ride city streets in the newly launched Bear Tracks automated shuttle bus in White Bear Lake. Before they hopped on board, students learned about the technology behind the shuttle’s operation from project partners AECOM, Ramsey County, and Newtrax. Campers also had an opportunity to inspect the MnCAV Ecosystem level-2 automated research vehicle just a few days before its Drive MN tour around the state to collect data and meet with transportation stakeholders.
Throughout the week, the campers also:
- Learned about the broad possibilities of CAVs and related career opportunities in sessions from The PLUM Catalyst and Danfoss
- Watched CAV technology in action during a demo from Bay and Bay Transportation and a field trip to Tesla (St. Paul/Maplewood)
- Envisioned an automated world in a transportation planning exercise led by HDR Inc.
- Got a drone's-eye view of campus during a demo with Northland Community and Technical College
- Used RumiCar and TurtleBot robots to learn how CAVs are programmed in activities led by the U’s Center for Distributed Robotics
- Toured Zeus Electric Chassis and learned about electric vehicle manufacturing
- Took a field trip to Experience STEAM at Mall of America
The CAV camp was the second hosted by CTS’s MnCAV Ecosystem, a collaborative environment that advances CAV-related research, engagement, and workforce development. The camp was funded by the Federal Highway Administration through the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), with additional financial contributions from SICK Inc., Sense Media Group, and Minnesota’s Transportation Conference. Curriculum planning support was provided by HDR Inc., The PLUM Catalyst, MnDOT, and the Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence.