Jim Kellenberger, PE, Transportation Safety Engineer - At 17 years of age, I was looking after my mother, brother, and sister. I did not have the time or money to attend a four-year school as I was providing for my family. I heard about W.W. Holding Technical Institute (now Wake Technical Community College) and their Civil Engineering Technology program and decided that the cooperative education model would work for me. In reality, it was the only model that would work for me and, unfortunately, it has been all but abandoned in today's educational world.

In December 1966, I took the bus to Asheboro for my first NCDOT assignment. They provided me the earnings I needed to maintain the household and, over time, the understanding that I could make a difference in this field.

In 1985, I was given the chance to be a part of the "Highway Concepts" course that led to the first "Professional Engineers" Exam review course in 1989 that I attended. Eight years later I passed this exam and that led to my joining the National Society of Professional Engineers to support licensure of all Engineers. As things moved forward in my career, I attended more national and international conferences and was asked to speak around the country on work zone safety and pavement marking topics.

I am now a member of the American Society of Safety Professionals, the National Society of Professional Engineers, the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, and the Transportation Research Board.

I had to have an education with an instant salary and this cooperative education engineering was the ticket. The more I got "stuck in," as they say, the more I learned and the more confidence I gained in learning and doing.

Being involved at the national and international levels of transportation for so long, sometimes you can take for granted the involvement you can have and the ways you can shape the outcomes of transportation trends. As an individual, you can make more of a difference than you think.