Building the future by recruiting a diverse work force, developing talent

On this week’s Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, conversations about the past, present and future of MDOT’s Transportation Diversity Recruitment Program (TDRP).

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The 10-week program allows students to work alongside other on-the-job training program participants, internal staff and external professionals who provide engineering, technical, inspection, and project management services for state road and bridge projects.

Greg Johnson

First, Greg Johnson, former MDOT chief operations officer and current member of the Michigan State Transportation Commission, talks about how the program was conceived eight years ago in collaboration with now-MDOT Director Paul C. Ajegba, who saw a need to form partnerships with higher education institutions and increase minority representation in transportation.

The idea is to work with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to recruit and introduce underrepresented groups of students to transportation-specific career opportunities.

Johnson also discusses his work now overseeing a project with the Oregon and Washington State DOTs to replace the bridge over the Columbia River.

James Jackson

Later, James Jackson, strategy director for MDOT’s TDRP, talks about the satisfaction he gains from working with students and the nearly 60 who participated this year. The department released a video July 27 featuring some of the students and highlighting the success of the program.

Finally, we hear from TuKiya Cunningham, a student at Alabama A&M University, about her experience in this year’s TDRP program. The student interns get a wide variety of opportunities and she counts among her highlights working with engineers on the I-75 Modernization project, which includes an innovative drainage tunnel.

TuKiya Cunningham

TuKiya Cunningham, a student at Alabama A&M University, standing in the I-75 Modernization drainage tunnel.

Podcast photo: James Jackson and Tukiya Cunningham at MDOT’s TDRP Intern Showcase.

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