The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley throughout the month of June held its popular University Transportation Center for Railway Safety summer camps on the Edinburg Campus.

The four week-long camps make up the largest railway safety-related camp in the nation, with more than 1,000 third- through 12th-graders in attendance this year.

“We had 12 teams from elementary schools compete from around the Valley, 11 teams from middle schools and four high school teams,” said Dr. Constantine Tarawneh, UTCRS Director, mechanical engineering professor, Bentsen Fellow at UTRGV and associate dean for Research.

“It was a very fierce competition – two teams in the elementary division were so close, we declared both as winners,” he said.

During the camps, students learned important concepts of science and engineering while working on projects like magnetic levitation train kits and Lego Mindstorms robots. Once students completed their projects, they competed against the other campers in their week-long cohort.

Winners from the four cohorts competed July 6, and were recognized that evening at a special awards ceremony at the UTRGV Performing Arts Complex on the Edinburg Campus.

In attendance was U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), who delivered the keynote address. The students’ families and friends also got to hear from Santiago Navarro, manager of the Technology Transfer Program, in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology.


Elementary school winners (TIE) – The Fantastic Four

Iris Delgado – Los Fresnos ISD  

Zoe Lozano – Los Fresnos ISD

Mareli Cruz – Valley View ISD

Paulina Garza – Valley View ISD


Elementary school winners (TIE) – The Piglets

Kathya Lopez – La Feria ISD

Katalina Loay – La Feria ISD

Amber Gutierrez – La Feria ISD


Middle school winners: The Bot Flies

Asarias Benavides – La Feria ISD

Austin Ernest – Child of UTRGV Faculty/Staff

Juan Luevano – Child of UTRGV Faculty/Staff


High school winners -- (No team name)

Sarah Park – Child of UTRGV Faculty/Staff

Daniel Hernandez – Edinburg CISD

Juan Lopez – South Texas ISD

Learsi De Hoyos – Hidalgo ISD