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Native American Students In Clarkson Summer Program Impact State Bridge Construction Project
Final design plans for a New York State bridge reconstruction project on the Akwesasne Reservation near Massena, N.Y., were changed this summer, when 35 Native American high-school students at a Clarkson University summer program weighed in with their environmental concerns.
The students, at Clarkson for the four-week American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) Summer Math and Engineering Program, took on an environmental review of the bridge construction as a joint project with the Environmental Division of the nearby St. Regis Mohawk Tribe. Clad in hard hats and safety vests, the students met a New York State Department of Transportation (NYDOT) official at the bridge. While traffic was diverted, the students took note of structural concerns and assessed the flora and fauna around the bridge, paying close attention to medicinal plants and evidence of PCBs. The students also participated in a panel discussion with local landowners, businesspeople, and tribal and NYDOT representatives to further investigate the environmental impact of the proposed construction.
Although plans for the new bridge were supposedly final, NYDOT was so impressed with the student concerns that they've added a pedestrian walkway to the blueprints and construction should get underway next fall.Students in the Clarkson/AISES Summer Math and Engineering Program represent 11 tribes from around the country. The program's goal is to strengthen the students' skills and interest in math, science and engineering as they prepare for college.