A new student organization has been established on the Texas Tech campus – the Tech Future Leaders in Transportation (TechFLT). This organization is a direct outcome of the Texas Tech Center for Multidisciplinary Research in Transportation's (TechMRT) involvement in the Southern Plains Transportation Center (SPTC). The SPTC mission, in part, is "...to prepare transportation professionals for leadership roles in professional and research careers in support of the nation's transportation systems." To that end, the SPTC has created the Transportation Leadership Council (TLC), a student organization focused on introducing students to the wide career opportunities and areas of focus in the field of transportation.
As a career field, transportation presents a diverse and open field; more than eight and a half million employees were hired in transportation-related careers in 2013 alone. In addition to the traditional areas such as asphalt, concrete and bridge structure design, transportation engineering includes things such as smart roads that are interactive and communicate to the driver about existing dangers, driverless vehicles, "never-stop" trains that slow down without stopping to let passengers on and off, and much more.
As one of the eight consortium members of the SPTC, Texas Tech is committed to this mission of preparing the next generation of transportation leaders. TechFLT hosted meetings in the Spring 2015 semester, focused on two different aspects of safety in transportation – deep foundation design as related to transportation, and the human factor in transportation safety in the future.
The Texas Tech branch of TechFLT currently consists of seven members and two advisors – a faculty advisor, Dr. Hoyoung Seo, and staff advisor Dr. Wes Kumfer. Manil Hettiwatte is the current president and Tharanga Dissanayaka is the vice-president.
Students in this group can look forward to a fast pace with regards to meetings and events this year, with scheduled lecturers from professionals outside Texas Tech, and further down the road there will be events that include travel and competitions after all eight consortium members get their respective FLT programs settled. The other eight consortium members who are in the beginning stages of launching their respective programs are The University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, Langston University, University of Arkansas, Louisiana Tech University, The University of New Mexico, and The University of Texas at El Paso.