For the second consecutive fall, Anne Arundel Community College is offering a course that gives students at two neighboring high schools a behind-the-scenes look at the transportation industry, possibly preparing them for a future at the port of Baltimore or BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.
"Introduction to Transportation and Logistics" (BPA 235), one of six courses in the school's credit certificate program, is being offered to students at Meade High School in Fort Meade and North County High School in Glen Burnie.
The cargo logistics course began last year as part of the Jump Start program, a joint venture of AACC and Anne Arundel County Public Schools that allows students 16 and older to take college-level courses while still in high school.
More than 1,050 students have taken part in the Jump Start program since its inception in 1999.
Students who take the transportation course can earn three college credit hours, and AACC officials said they began the program with hopes that those exposed to the field might pursue it after high school.
"Our intent was to provide students with a broad understanding of transportation, the different modes and how they work together," said Gloria J. Sandstrom, project director for AACC's Center For Workforce Solutions.
"We focus a lot on airport and seaport operations because we're located adjacent to BWI Airport and the port of Baltimore," said Sandstrom, "and we focus on changes in technology and security issues. That is interwoven in all of our courses."
Sandstrom said that such a course could be vital to Anne Arundel County's young work force. It began around the same time that Gov. Martin O'Malley announced Port America's 50-year agreement to operate the port of Baltimore's Seagirt Marine Terminal, a move that government officials say is expected to provide about 5,700 jobs to the area.
It also comes as Fort Meade anticipates building facilities to accommodate thousands that will move to the area as a result of Base Realignment and Closure measures.
"The [transportation] industry has definitely been impacted by the recession; it has flattened. But there are some signs that things are coming back," Sandstrom said. "There are a lot of logistics positions coming here. Obviously this certificate is not going to bring someone to the exact level for some of those jobs but it is a starting point."
Sandstrom said the course is a result of AACC's efforts to get the word out to students about careers in the maritime industry. She said that the school linked with North County and Meade via the school's signature programs, which offer students technology-oriented courses and extracurricular opportunities that can help prepare them for the workforce.
Meade High School's signature program is Homeland Security, while North County's is International Trade, Transportation and Tourism. For students at those schools who take the transportation course, it is also a chance to get immersed in a college environment before high school graduation.
It is too early to determine whether the course will generate sizable numbers of young people gravitating toward the transportation industry, but AACC instructional specialist Kipp Snow said that exposure alone helps.
"It starts off with them having no understanding of the industry," he said, "and by going through a teaser course or some type of one-on-one discussion of what's in the industry, it gets them curious about what happens."