EDINBURG, Texas – UTRGV’s Dr. Constantine Tarawneh says Vanguard Academy is the best school district he has worked with. 

The UTRGV associate dean is director of the University Transportation Center for Railway Safety. 

He has also advised and mentored tens of thousands of students through various campus activities, programs and research opportunities, having started out as Mechanical Engineering Graduate Program director in 2006.

“Vanguard Academy GEAR UP, in my experience, has been the best school district to work with,” Tarawneh said. “They are dedicated, organized, and committed to student success. We have been impressed with the academic caliber of their students.”

Barbara Gonzales

Tarawneh made his comments after a three-day summer camp. While on the camp, Vanguard Academy students journeyed through STEM activities and lessons aimed at exposing them to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) concepts. 

Barbara Gonzales, Vanguard Academy’s GEAR UP director said more than 250 Vanguard Academy middle and high school students participated in the University Transportation Center for Railway Safety summer camp. 

She said Vanguard Academy GEAR UP, in partnership with UTRGV, offered the summer camp to expose students to STEM disciplines and have them consider careers in transportation-related fields.

“We have students participating in inquiry-based activities and learning about the science and engineering pathways,” Gonzales said.

“Our students also took part in a number of designing and programming and efficient vehicular robot competitions, challenging them to work and think outside the box.”

Throughout the three-day camp students were introduced to STEM concepts related to Transportation Engineering with emphasis on railway safety. 

“Our students participated in hands-on activities using Magnetic Levitation (MagLev) and LEGO Mindstorms Robotics kits,” Gonzales noted. “GEAR UP and Vanguard Academy are very committed to promoting education and fostering a love of STEM and transportation safety in our children of all ages.”

Editor’s Note: The above news story is part of an occasional series about Vanguard Academy’s GEAR UP program.


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