Kim Benson, who teaches engineering, design and computer aided design (CAD) for the district, has repeatedly and consistently worked to provide her students with the skill sets necessary to make good career and advanced education choices. In Benson’s classroom, students are taught to think like engineers, develop creative designs, and ultimately computerize their ideas using various CAD programs.
Benson has been involved with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Transportation and Civil Engineering (TRAC) Program since December 2008 and has incorporated TRAC into her classroom in a very big way.
She uses TRAC modules to teach leadership, public speaking, innovative technology, CAD Design software, and report writing. Through her efforts, the Lenawee School System is seeing increasing numbers of students pursuing careers in engineering. In 2013, Benson was formally recognized by the University of Toledo with a “Most Influential Educator” certificate for her role in inspiring her students to become engineers.
“MDOT is proud to work in partnership with Ms. Benson in our common goal to influence students in the areas of math and science,” said MDOT TRAC Program Manager Julie Van Portfliet. “She’s continually encouraging her students to develop to their full potential.”
In September 2014, three of Benson’s students achieved top honors during a competition event at the 21st Intelligent Transportation Systems World Congress, held in Detroit. They designed and constructed a suspension bridge with an impressive strength-to-weight ratio of 2,724 – outscoring a team of professional engineers.
Benson is currently spearheading the collaboration between LISD, Baker College, and MDOT to create a new partnership that will allow her students – and eventually others across the state – to receive college credit for successfully completing the TRAC Design and Build Bridge Challenge Program.
“This effort goes a long way toward achieving a fully integrated engineering education system for Michigan students,” Van Portfliet said.
For more information on the MDOT TRAC program, go to www.michigan.gov/mdot-trac.