The federal Department of Transportation awarded $100,000 to Cal State Los Angeles last week for an 18-month program to increase the number of minority students in the transportation field. The program will begin in the fall.
The award was one of eight in the country given to schools with large Latino enrollments.
The money will enable the university to provide internships to about 10 students who will receive special training in transportation-related careers, said Hassan Hashemian, a professor in transportation engineering in the department of civil engineering.
The university will also design a lecture series for these students, bringing in professionals in government and from the private sector to discuss the latest in transportation technology. The grant will allow students to work with agencies and businesses while they are in training.
It also provides for Hashemian to act as a consultant to these businesses to help increase the number of minority employees trained in the field.
"They are going to go through a certain type of training, education and experience, and they get paid for it," Hashemian said. "It's very good for the students, especially for minority students because transportation is booming these days. The defense conversion is going into transportation, and we feel the work force of the future is the minority work force."
Under the project, the eight institutions selected nationwide will develop and implement educational programs aimed at making disadvantaged business enterprises more competitive in their search for transportation-related contracts.
"This program will combine the efforts of government, HIS (Hispanic Serving Institutions) and the private sector to foster diversity in educational opportunities for college students in the field of transportation," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Federico Pena. "It also will promote greater participation of disadvantaged business enterprises in transportation-related contracts."
Cal State L.A. has also recently received $85,000 in grants from Caltrans and the federal government to increase the number of minorities involved in transportation, Hashemian said. The students will be trained in computer-aided design and engineering.
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