PREP Foundation Activities Update

2nd Annual California Bridge Building Competition

The PREP Foundation kicked off the new year on January 20th with the Second Annual California Bridge Building Competition held at California State University, Sacramento.  This year’s competition saw an increase in the number of schools participating thanks to our recent TRAC training in Los Angeles.

The event is modeled after AASHTO’s National Bridge and Structure Competition bringing middle and high school students together to provide Power Point presentations to distinguished industry judges and then to strength test their bridges on stage for cash prizes. The first place team in each Division (7/8, 9/10, 11/12) took home $1,500, second place received $750, and third place won $300 from the Professional Engineers in California Government (PECG).

Senator Dr. Richard Pan stopped by to deliver a message of support and encouragement for the students and exhibitors from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and PECG provided information and handouts on the benefits of a career in public service for the state and federal government.

The statewide competition has provided the opportunity for students to gain practice and feedback in advance of their applying for AASHTO’s National Bridge and Structure competition.  With this model, a California team was not only able to qualify nationally for the first time last year, but took second place in their age group at the Competition held in Portland, Maine. This year, California has qualified again, and an 11th/12th grade student team will represent Sacramento’s Sheldon High School and California at the National Bridge and Structure Competition in Franklin, Tennessee on May 21, 2018.

TRAC & RIDES Program Update

Last year, the PREP Foundation coordinated an AASHTO TRAC training in Los Angeles in partnership with PECG, the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) and the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. This year, the PREP Foundation is working to secure funding for additional TRAC & RIDES trainings in Sacramento, San Joaquin County, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles.  More information the TRAC and RIDES programs can be found here.

Innovate for Impact (Folsom City Zoo Project) Update

In December, the PREP Foundation hosted the Second Annual Mentor Day in partnership with PECG. The event brought over thirty California state-employed engineers and related professionals who volunteered their time to evaluate and assist students with designing improvements for disabled animals living at the Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary. Earlier this year, students presented their final designs to the zoo for approval. The PREP Foundation and PECG will be at the Zoo next week as Folsom High School students install the improvements that they have designed with the help of PECG mentors.



1st Annual California Bridge Building Competition

On Saturday, January 28, PREP conducted its first annual California Bridge Building Competition at California State University, Sacramento in partnership with PECG and the California State University, Sacramento College of Engineering and Sciences.  Open to participating TRAC Students, three teams in two divisions (middle and high school) were invited to compete based on the scores of their pre-submitted design portfolios, as evaluated by PECG’s Promoting Readiness for Engineering Professions (PREP) Committee.

Our volunteer judges included Caltrans Chief Deputy Director Kome Ajise, Will McClure and Sarah Skeen from FHWA, SCOE Engineering Career Pathways Coordinator John Agostinelli, and two engineers from the PECG PREP Committee, Cathrina Barros and Brian Simon.

Modeled after AASHTO’s National Bridge and Structure Competition, six teams of middle and high school students provided Power Point presentations, answered on-the-spot questions from the judging panel, and strength tested their bridges on stage for cash prizes, with the first place team in each of the two Divisions (middle and high school) taking home $1,500 from PECG, for their team.

Congressman Ami Bera (CA-7) stopped by to deliver a message of support and encouragement for the students, and exhibitors from FHWA, the California Air Resources Board, Sacramento State University, the NorCal STEM Education Foundation, and PECG provided information for interested students and competition attendees at our mini College & Career Fair.

The event also drew a significant amount of television media attention, with KCRA 3, Fox 40, and Univision 19 all sending cameras and conducting interviews at the event. The following Friday, February 3, a local CBS morning news program, Good Day Sacramento, also invited the winning middle school team to the news station to do a live bridge building and testing segment.  The coverage has helped to generate a great deal of interest from other educational and industry organizations that hope to be involved next year and has given the hard working students some well-deserved recognition.

Conducting the statewide competition has provided the opportunity for students to gain practice and feedback in advance of their applying for AASHTO’s National Bridge and Structure competition.  Since proposals for that competition aren’t due until February 15, even students who weren’t chosen as statewide finalists were able to hear from the proposal evaluation team and given recommendations for proposal enhancement.

This year, AASHTO has received over 50 student applications from California teachers whose students plan to submit proposals to the national competition, a huge jump from one application that was submitted in 2016. While we can’t speculate as to whether or not California teams will be invited to compete in the finals competition at the AASHTO Spring Meeting in Portland Maine in May, we anxiously await the announcement of finalists in early March!

Again, partnerships have and continue to make the difference in our ability to support and motivate our students to engineer California’s future.  Links to the television news segments of the California Bridge Building Competition can be found HERE.

Blog 2 - Innovate for Impact Kickoff Featured in the Local News!

Last Friday, October 14, we officially kicked off this year’s Innovate for Impact Program in partnership with the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) with teacher orientation at the Folsom Zoo Sanctuary.  Despite rainy conditions, approximately 20 middle and high school teachers toured the facility, learned about the needs of each special-needs and/or rescued animal and their enclosures, and were briefed on the structure and timeline of the school year-long program.  We were there to provide information on the mentoring component that we are administering in partnership with PECG, including the upcoming Mentor Day on December 2 and the Engineering Help Desk for students.  Two television media stations, CBS 13 and ABC 10, came out to cover the story and the afternoon and evening news segments featured interviews with PREP Board Members Mark Sheahan and Matt Hanson.  See those news clips here.  Over the next month and a half, students will take the same tour of the Zoo, decide on which animal/enclosure that they’d like to engineer an improvement for, and begin to design their projects in teams.  On December 2, students are invited to bring their ideas and designs to PECG Mentor Day at the SCOE Office where approximately 20 state engineers and related professionals will be available to review their plans and provide constructive feedback. The day will also include a “networking” lunch for students with the engineers where they will be provided with incentives for asking questions about their professions and background.

On Friday, October 28, we will be hosting a TRAC Training for approximately 25 Sacramento-area teachers in partnership with SCOE.  This training will focus exclusively on AASHTO’s Bridge Builder Module and preparing middle and high school students to enter and compete in our first State Bridge Building Competition on January 28, 2017.  More information on the competition can be found at Bridge Building Competition.

If you haven’t yet done so, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates on all of our efforts. Thank you for your support of the PREP Foundation!

Welcome to the Promoting Readiness for Engineering Professions Foundation blog!

We’re thrilled to announce that as of October 10, 2016, we are officially a Non-Profit Corporation. We are also in the process of applying for 501(c)(3) (tax-exempt) status to the IRS so that all donations made to the Foundation are tax deductible for donors.  In the meantime, we’re researching and applying for grants, sponsorships, and other sources of funding that will allow us to continue to promote engineering and related careers to California students, teachers, and the public.

Our Foundation Board Members include President Mark Sheahan, Secretary Cathrina Barros, and Treasurer Matt Hanson.  Check out the Who We Are section on our website at to learn more about us.

Our mission is to provide curriculum, resources, training, mentoring, and other support to students, teachers, schools, parents, and the public in order to inspire and prepare the next generation of highly skilled engineers and related professionals in California. 

To date, the main efforts of our foundation include the coordination of AASHTO’s TRAC & RIDES Program in California, the upcoming Bridge Building Competition at California State University, Sacramento, and the Innovate for Impact Program in partnership with the Sacramento County Office of Education.  If you are interested in becoming more involved in any of these programs as a teacher, mentor, participant, or in any other role, please send an email to  You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to see what we’re up to, or Subscribe to our Blog.

It is essential that we motivate and retain a qualified workforce that is ready and willing to meet the environmental and infrastructure challenges that we, as a state, nation, and society will face in the coming years. We look forward to achieving great things and hope that you will consider joining and supporting our efforts!