A trip on the big, yellow school bus took SWAG (Students with Ambitious Goals) participants from Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo High School through an adventure in the world of transportation and logistics. Could freight be fascinating? Both students and teachers thought so. The SWAG group divided into two small groups and began their two separate journeys on a chilly, Tuesday afternoon. The first group was dropped off at TTS-I (Total Transportation Services, Inc.) in Rancho Dominguez, CA. The second SWAG group visited Union Pacific Railroad in Long Beach, CA.
“It was cool because you see everything that comes with getting things transported across the US,” stated Regina, Cabrillo High sophomore and SWAG participant. Regina hopes to major in engineering, specifically sound engineering. She admits that although the trip didn’t directly relate to her desired major, it gave her plenty to think about.
“The SWAG program helps me with engineering. By looking at many areas, it gives me more ideas about what I want to be in the future,” stated Regina. “Everything is hands on and it’s self-motivating. If you want it, you go for it.”
At TTS-I, students and staff were given a warm welcome by Tony Williamson, Director of Business Development and Marketing and Timothy Watts, Director of Warehouse Operations and the group’s official tour guide.
The first stop included a view inside the company’s new zero emission, hydrogen-powered truck. The SWAG group was able to see and feel the inside of the truck and its instrumental panel. Over 100 of these “green” trucks are expected to hit the highways of Los Angeles (CA) and Houston (TX) by the end of the 2014.
The group then enjoyed a tour of an NEC Logistics warehouse where they viewed a variety of products – paper cups, molasses, glitter toy balls and shoes. “The kids and teachers were very engaged during the warehouse tour because they were able to witness the flow of freight in the US,” stated, Tony Williamson. “72 percent of freight in the US comes through the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles – these are the gateway to the nation.” As for TTS-I, the campus sees close to 200,000 shipments every year from locations worldwide.
The last stops included a visit to dock where trucks are loaded and unloaded continuously, and a view of the TTS-I yard or “parking lot” for all company trucks. The tour completed with a hearty lunch and plenty of TTS-I swag to go around.
“Many students are not aware of the possible jobs/careers out there. By going on trips like this, they get a better understanding of how the world works and have more jobs/majors in college to consider. The amount of steps that it requires for something to get from the factory/farm to our shelves is amazing. The biggest impact for me was the incredible amount of coordination that is required between the different parties at each step,” stated Cabrillo High School teacher, Chelsea McCormick.
Over at Union Pacific Railroad, Cabrillo High sophomores met Andy Perez, the company’s Director of Port Affairs Corporate Relations. After enjoying pizza and refreshments, the SWAG group caught a bird’s eye view of the company’s ICTF (Intermodal Container Transfer Facility). Every day, containers are transported from the ports and taken to this facility. From here, the containers are double-stacked and await their journey via train through the Alameda Corridor and to various destinations in the US.
The SWAG group also traveled to the company’s tower – “the control room” for Union Pacific where they met the hard-working team that controls and monitors the items that come into Union Pacific 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The field trip sparked the curiosity of Brenda, another SWAG participant and aspiring lawyer.
“It gets me thinking about becoming a lawyer in this industry. I can benefit from all this later,” stated Brenda. This young sophomore is dreaming big and thinking big as well.
“The whole reason for being a lawyer is to help those that cannot be helped. I’m the first one (in my family) to go to college, so it’s my responsibility to assist others so that they give back. I started from scratch so I have to set the bar higher for others.”
It’s amazing what a field trip and freight can stir within the minds of young adults. They truly have swag and represent SWAG in the best way. We would like to send a huge “thank you” to our supporters and partners for making another great outing possible.
Now it’s time to plan the next field trip which will introduce SWAG to careers in building trades. Our gracious host will be the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers). Stay tuned!