As Engineers and Planners we are constantly working with formulas – some are pretty straight forward and others are more complicated. District 6 has found a winning formula for attracting and engaging bright and energetic Engineering students into ITE and the profession. That winning formula started with implementation of a very successful and unique Student Initiatives Program that was developed in 2002 under then District 6 President Rory Grindley. Since its inception this program has grown and been revised and expanded to today’s program which includes the Data Collection Fund awards, travel support for both the Student Paper Winner and the Best Student Chapter to attend the Annual Meeting, a cash prize for the Student Paper winner, honorable mentions for the Student Chapters and incentives for the Student Chapters to submit an Annual Activities report, the District’s Fellowship Award, textbooks for new Student Chapters, and much more. The success of the program can be seen each year. More Student Chapters are becoming active and new ones are forming. A record number of Student Chapter reports were submitted this year. Student participation at Annual Meetings has increased from a handful of students to almost 100. There has been a staggering increase in the number of students in the mentoring program. Those students that started in the program have since graduated, joined the profession, and are taking up leadership roles in the Chapters, Sections and District.
As with implementation of any new program, there is always a cost associated with services and the Student Initiatives Program is no different. This current array of programs totals about $25,000 per year which comes directly from the District’s operating budget. The ultimate goal is to be able to expand the Student Initiatives Program to entail $40,000 per year in awards and services to our Student Chapter. In 2005 under then District 6 President Zaki Mustafa the Student Endowment Fund was founded. The ultimate goal of the Student Endowment Fund is to generate enough in interest each year to fund the Student Endowment Fund activities thereby moving the cost of these programs out of the District’s operating budget. This move would ensure that even in tough economic times, these essential student programs would continue.
The Endowment Fund has grown since its inception with total assets just over $200,000. It has taken a lot of hard work to get where we are today as well as a lot of generosity from Sections/Chapters, Corporations and individuals that are dedicated to ensuring that the Endowment Fund reach its’ goal. Under current Endowment Fund Chair Cathy Leong, we have seen a variety of fundraising activities from adorable ITE bears (which are a must in any professionals office), ITE Logo shirts and the ever popular tattoos that grace each annual meeting for a bit of fun and excitement during those meeting breaks which have added to the funds success. Rumor has it that if you want the tattoo professionally applied; Cathy has contracted the services of our own District Administrator, Jenny Grote, who does a fantastic job for a small contribution to the Endowment Fund.
This is an essential program to the District and one that has been a lot of fun to be involved with over the years. While many of us didn’t have such wonderful programs back when we were in college, we do have the unique opportunity to be part of those that can leave such a legacy to the next generation of transportation professional. To fully fund the program, would take a $75 contribution from each District 6 member. In these tougher economic times, such a contribution may not be possible in a lump sum or at all. For those of you that do feel that you would like to be part of the legacy, Cathy can help you by breaking down contributions over several years or you may just choose to make a smaller donation. All donations are very much appreciated by the students and are tax deductible; so if you are able, I would encourage you to contribute.
By Julia Townsend