TRAC™ is the hands-on program that lets students use math and science to solve real-world problems in transportation and civil engineering.

By engaging students in solving real-world problems such as magnetic-levitation train transportation, TRAC™ connects students to the work world of transportation and inspires them to consider careers in transportation and civil engineering.


The transportation field is changing rapidly. Not so long ago, most transportation professionals were civil engineers; in the near future, with the advent of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and other new technologies, transportation will need to attract large numbers of computer systems engineers, telecommunications people, environmentalists, technologists from a wide number of disciplines, and others. Civil engineering will remain a core discipline. The transportation industry recognizes the need to recruit the best and the brightest young people.


TRAC™ stands for TRAnsportation and Civil engineering

At the heart of the TRAC™ program are eight self-contained education modules featuring professionally developed curricula that meet national standards of learning. Each module contains the equipment, software, and supplies needed to perform hands-on activities related to:
  • Bridge Design
  • City Planning
  • Design and Construction
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Highway Safety
  • Magnetic Levitation
  • Motion
  • Traffic Technology
The units have been designed to be presented with little to no teacher or volunteer training. Included in each module is a teacher reference guide, a volunteer guidebook, and a QuickTime™ movie showing how each activity works. The modules have up to five activities, allowing teachers to tailor the lessons to their needs. The modular design allows for greater flexibility  when placing the TRAC™ Program in schools. South Dakota teachers can request one module after attending the required training relevant to their lesson plans.

SDDOT will send engineers into  high schools to promote civil engineering and support the TRAC™ resources teachers have available to them. Teachers  will choose from eight self-contained modules  covering a specific topic—such as environmental engineering or bridge design—and contains all the materials needed to run a variety of experiments.







 All TRAC™ activities are structured to allow students to teach themselves what they need to know in order to solve the problems. The students are given inspiration, guidance, and the proper tools, and they work in teams, just as transportation professionals and engineers routinely do.

Instead of sitting passively while listening to lectures, students become explorers and investigators. They can build a magnetic levitation train that actually works, measure the impact of collisions, even use a computer program to create a city and watch it grow. They seek out and absorb information, formulate new ways of solving problems, and learn that working in transportation is fun, exciting, stimulating, challenging, and doable.
 The teacher acts as facilitator for the students as they explore the problems presented in the TRAC™ module. The teacher's knowledge becomes a resource as the students investigate ways to approach the problem.

TRAC™ activities are designed around a number of disciplines. Math teachers use the program at every level from basic algebra to advanced calculus, with activities that illustrate computer spreadsheets, geometry, graphing data, probabilities distribution, and queuing. Physical science classes address friction, gravity, magnetism, motion, and structures. Social science teachers explore the environment, urban planning, history, local government, technology's relationship to society, politics, and government regulations.
 Volunteers are usually engineers from state departments of transportation, though they could also be persons from other transportation related fields. Their typical role is to be a mentor to the students and to assist the teacher in presenting the TRAC™ material. Then, for as long as the module remains in the school, volunteers remain on call to provide technical assistance and to answer students’ college and career questions.

The volunteers serve as role models and may be the first engineers the students have ever met.