Youth and Pre-University Programs

RTP collaboarates in a variety of ways with organizations, other universities, and partners to provide programming opportunities for youths from elementary through high school.

We welcome interested participants and collaborators.

Upcoming Youth Events

Jun 1, 2024 9:00am

Tracks to the Future, Railroad Transportation and Engineering

SYP 2023 is tentatively set for two hybrid sessions this year, with two days of virtual instruction and activities, followed by two days at a university location for hands-on activities and railroad tours. 

Session 1 will run from June 19-23, and include campus and site visits with University of South Carolina, University of New Mexico, or Fresno State College in California

Session 2 will run from July 10-14 and include campus and site visits with Michigan Technological University, Penn State University - Altoona, and University of Illinois - Champaign/Urbana

Our 2023 program will fearture two sessions and six different participating universities. Students in our program will receive two days of virtual instruction on Monday and Tuesday of their session week.  This portion will feature hands on activities (we will send each participant a package of materials to use!), group virtual instruction and activities, and online activities.  Wednesday will be a travel day to get you from your home to your University location. The session will continue on Thursday and Friday of your session week at one of our six University locations, see the university and session options below!  The program is covered by an FRA Grant, which covers all program materials, plus lodging and meals for the on-site portion.  Students will be responsible for travel to the assigned university location.  The application process will ask each participant to rank their preference of sessions and sites.  Participant preference and home location will both be considered when assigning the on-site location.  You will be asked to submit some supporting documents and complete a scholarship application as part of the application process.  After participant selection and placement to one of the three university locations takes place in mid April you will be notified and will need to complete a suplemental registration package for the assigned university location.     Problems with registration?  Contact our program staff at

RTP Collaboration with University Education & Outreach Program

The Rail Transportation Program has begun to partner for elementary based programming with the Western Upper Peninsula Center for Science, Mathematics, and Environmental Education, a collaboration program with Michigan Technological University. Sessions engage students in STEM centered activities. RTP has enjoyed participating consistently with the program since the spring of 2013.

In one such event, the RTP collaborated to offer a session on 'Things That Move' to elementary aged students (pictured below). This session assisted youth to design planes, boats, and cars; make a traffic safety plan for their classroom and for their neighbor-hood, design a bike helmet, and plan the best way to move freight across the country. The RTP facilitated a mag-lev rail activity for a session led by Mr. David Nelson, that included a short lesson on how mag-lev trains operate, and the opportunity to build a model mag-lev train platform.

Another event that sprang from this collaboration was a Family Transportation Night, held at the Chassell Public School in April, 2013. Elementary school students and their parents attended an inquiry-based activity led by Michigan Tech students. In 2014 RTP students and staff have continued to work with the Center to assist with programming.

National Summer Transportation Institute

Michigan Tech's National Summer Transportation Institute is a two-week residential program that allows students to explore career and educational paths supporting today's transportation industry and future needs. The Rail Transportation Program contributes to some of the sessions.

Travel to exciting locations like the Mackinac Bridge Authority, which oversees the third-longest suspension bridge in the world, and the Soo Locks shipping canal between Lake Superior and the Lower Great Lakes. Do hands-on group projects, meet other talented students, and take advantage of career opportunities that exist in the transportation industry. Michigan Tech's National Summer Transportation Institute is a two-week residential program that allows students to explore today's top transportation industries. Competitive Scholarships are available. To learn more about the National Summer Transportation Insitute click here.

Education Workshop Series for Detroit Public Schools

22 teachers from the Detroit area met to participate in Dr. Pasi Lautala’s rail transportation workshop, organized by Joan Chadde, on March 23, 2013. The purpose of the workshop was “…to introduce students to careers in transportation and provide teachers with a curriculum connection for teaching about transportation management via core subjects (math, science, social studies)”. Dr. Lautala captivated his audience with presentations on many aspects of the rail industry, and how rail activities work with other transportation modes to provide a complete transportation system, using his unique experience set as global expert in rail activities. The workshop included a field trip to the Norfolk Southern Railyard. Teacher comments at the end of the workshop included; “The workshop was perfect!” and “I have a push-pull science unit to teach and the trains are a great way to do that.”

Mind Trekkers Summer Camps

The Rail Transportation Program partners with Mind Trekkers with our Magnetic Levitation Track for sessions offered during youth programs in the summer at Michigan Tech.