Bay Area high school students take a transportation lesson in San Jose State

Classes may be over for the summer, but there was still a bit of a buzz on the San Jose State campus this week. Thirty-five students from across the Bay Area were participating in the Mineta Summer Transportation Institute, a three-week program designed to interest them in a variety of jobs in the transportation industry.

One of the first lessons this week was about drones – how to fly them and use them for aerial mapping. Bo Yang, an assistant professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, showed the students how the controls work on both a large and a small drone. And then the controls were given to pairs of students who whirled the flying machines around the area near the Boccardo shopping complex.

Charlotte Ho, a student at Evergreen Valley High School in San Jose, said she had a great time flying the drone. “The only experience I had flying remote-controlled vehicles was a small helicopter,” said Ho, who has an engineering interest. “It was a much better experience.”

Evergreen Valley High School student Charlotte Ho, right, flies a drone during the Mineta Summer Transportation Institute at San Jose State University, Monday, July 18, 2022. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group)

Karen Philbrick, executive director of the Mineta Transportation Institute, said drones are being used to make first and last mile deliveries, deliver medicine to people in hard-to-reach areas, perform bridge inspections and even warn people entering level crossings.

“Drones are becoming more prevalent in transportation as one of the tools for dealing with congestion,” Philbrick said.

They’re also fun to use, she pointed out. Ensuring students are engaged is a key part of the program, which includes environmental science lectures, but also hands-on activities and field trips. On Friday, the students traveled to the Central Valley to visit the construction site of the high-speed line. Next on the agenda is a visit to Mountain View-based start-up Nuro, which will give students the opportunity to see its self-driving vehicles up close. The goal is to open the eyes of high school students to the continuum of employment opportunities in the transportation sector.

“One of the biggest crises we face in transport is the lack of skilled labor and how are we going to recruit students to take up these opportunities?” she says. “We’re here to show kids what’s possible, and you can’t lecture them for three weeks straight.”

And when it comes to transportation and the environment, something beyond a lecture is valuable, like a visit to Henry Cowell State Park. “We want kids to see the big, beautiful trees,” Philbrick said. “And we want them to understand why transportation and the impact on greenhouse gas emissions matters and how we need to change that in the future with more innovative transportation solutions.”

A GIANT SALUTE: The San Jose Giants did something extraordinary last Saturday when they retired the number of someone who has never even worn one of their jerseys. But it was more than fitting for Mark Wilson, the team’s longtime general manager who was honored with an on-field retirement ceremony at Excite Ballpark. He is truly one of the great people to be part of any sport in the city of San Jose.

Current chief executive Ben Taylor presented Wilson with a jersey emblazoned with the number 38 at the ceremony, representing the number of years Wilson has spent with the organization, starting as a trainee in 1984. Wilson officially retired in December 2020, but was eventually honored. for his service this season (thanks, COVID).

Former San Jose Giants general manager Mark Wilson, left, holds a jersey presented to him by current general manager Ben Taylor during a pre-game retirement ceremony held at Excite Ballpark on Saturday, July 16, 2022. (Courtesy of San Jose Giants)
Former San Jose Giants general manager Mark Wilson, left, holds a jersey presented to him by current general manager Ben Taylor during a pre-game retirement ceremony held at Excite Ballpark on Saturday, July 16, 2022. (Courtesy of San Jose Giants)

“In minor league baseball, the general manager is a team’s front-office staff cleanup hitter,” said Chris Lampe, a league historian from California and minority owner of the San Jose Giants. “Mark Wilson was a five-tool general manager. He did it all.

It’s also true. Advertisers loved him and fans may not have known his name, but they should have loved him too. In addition to the team winning four California League championships and tying for a fifth while he was general manager, Wilson also did a lot to spruce up the venue formerly known as Municipal Stadium. Wilson’s tenure saw the improvement of food and drink options, the sprucing up of the aging stadium with murals and patios, and the addition of the beloved ‘Beer Batter’. For that alone, he deserved the retirement number. Wilson estimated that about half a million free or half-price beers were served at the ballpark as a result of the promotion.

“Time flies, folks, so enjoy it while you have it. I have so many great memories here at this stadium,” said Wilson, who added he was proud to join the former manager Lenn Sakata as the only other retired number “Every day, from the moment I woke up to the moment I laid my head on the pillow, it was all about the experience for the fans and how we could improve it.”

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FAIR? : True, a version of the Santa Clara County Fair is taking place this week, but it’s not the carnival cake extravaganza of years past. Instead, it’s mostly a livestock showcase for 4-H and Future Farmers of America, who have worked hard all year.

Events began on July 10 with a horse show in San Martin and continued on July 23 with a cattle and dog show, with more events all week leading up to the Junior Livestock Auction on July 30. You can check the schedule at www.thefair.org. I was told that a full fair should be back at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds in 2023. Of course, if you go on July 27, not only will you be able to see sheep and rabbits, but you can also stay on Wednesday night. Musical series with Morgan Hill-based classic rock band The Usual Suspects at 4:30 p.m.

HISTORICAL ACTORS The San Mateo County Historical Association will honor the legendary San Francisco 49ers secondary at its annual History Markers dinner on Sept. 29. as “Dwight Hicks and his Hot Licks” on the team’s path to a Super Bowl championship.

Now Candlestick Park was fairly close to San Mateo County, but the association found an even better way to connect the team to the peninsula: Between 1956 and 1988, the 49ers’ headquarters and practice facility were in Redwood City, and many players lived and raised families in the area. It might be overkill, but we’ll allow it because these guys deserve all the accolades they get. And, hey, that gives the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame a good argument to honor all the legends who make a name for themselves at Levi’s Stadium. You can get more information about dining at the Grand Bay Hotel in Redwood Shores at historysmc.org/history-makers.

Clyde P. Johnson