Twenty-two female students from across the U.S. and their mentors participated in the fifth annual Transportation YOU DC Youth Summit, a conference for young women designed to introduce, inspire, and guide them toward a future in STEM studies (science, technology, engineering and math) and a career in the transportation industry.
The five-day summit, which kicked off on June 22, 2016, celebrated some of the brightest young girls from across the country. Upon the Summit’s conclusion, these future leaders of the transportation industry had established a national network of high-profile women transportation professionals, as well as an awareness of the variety of exciting and rewarding careers in the transportation industry.
The Summit attendees included the 22 mentorship pairs as well as the WTS volunteer event steering committee members, university representatives and WTS staff. True to the established DC Summit curriculum, the robust itinerary of the program’s academic challenge, meetings with administrative officials, and rare glimpses behind the scenes of some of the America’s most critical transportation entities—not to mention the fascinating makeup of the participants—all created an environment of learning, exclusive access, and networking at a level that will provide for unique entre into the transportation industry when participants choose this path once they have completed their studies.
The steering committee itself included committee chair, Diana Giraldo, HNTB; Heather Rothenberg, UBER; Lora Byala, Foursquare ITP; Angela Jacobs, FHWA; Courtney Ehrlichman, Traffic21 Institute; Wanda Parker-Smith, Amtrak; Aimee Jefferson, North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority; Kristine Boswell, Past USDOT; as well as Amina Bouyad, a freshman at the University of Denver. A unique Challenge Project was developed by Courtney Ehrlichman and Dana Peck of USDOT and implemented with the help of Stephanie Ivey and Corinna Carter, University of Memphis; and Fei Miao and Elynor Zhou from the University of Pennsylvania. With the full support of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the five-day Summit took participants from the DC Metro to the DOT, from the White House to the National Transportation Safety Board and the Turner Fairbank Highway Research Center, behind the scenes tours of Amtrak and the University of the District of Columbia (UDC), and each step of the way an academic challenge, college and professional planning, and all with the encouragement of VIPs from both the public and private sectors were threaded throughout the program. Here’s a glimpse of the program highlights:
wed. june 22, 2016
6:00 – 7:30 pm
Meet ‘n Greet Dinner at The Mayflower Hotel
7:30 – 9:00 pm Workshop: Developing a Personal Mission Statement
Kicking off an intensive week of meeting high-profile and influential leaders in the transportation industry, Diana Giraldo, a Project Manager at the HNTB, and Lora Byala, the CEO of Foursquare ITP, led Summit attendees through the process of establishing a personal mission statement to utilize as a means of self-discovery. The girls put this skill into motion immediately as the Summit itinerary provided many opportunities for them to introduce themselves and start envisioning their goals.
thursday, june 23, 2016
8:00 – 9:00 am
U.S. Department of Transportation
A visit to the U.S. Department of Transportation provided the participants with a peek into each of the different modes of transportation, as several young women who are each on a career path to making a difference in transportation discussed how they landed at DOT and what they do.
9:30 – 10:00 am
Meet and Greet with US DOT Executives and Networking with Power Women
No immersion program like the Summit is complete without a proper networking event, and the morning session at USDOT proved to be awe-inspiring. Summit participants, including both mentees and mentors had an opportunity to sit down with Irene Rico, Division Administrator, Virginia Division, FHWA; Blaine Workie, Assistant General Counsel, Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings (both on above picture on the left); and each of the DOT panelists (Left to Right on picture: Faith Hall, FTA; Crystal Jones, FHWA; Kristin Baldwin, PHMSA; Seema Javeri ,FRA; Shana Baker; and Diana Giraldo, HNTB), who shared their experiences and answered any questions attendees had for them.
10:30 – 11:30 am
Tour Amtrak at Union Station
Through the gracious efforts of Amtrak’s University Relations Program Manager and 2016 DC Summit Committee member, Wanda Parker-Smith, the girls were given the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look of Amtrak at Union Station. The wonderful leaders at Amtrak gave the Summit attendees an in-depth look at the operations of Amtrak in Union Station.
1:30 – 3:00 pm
Museum of American History – America on the Move Exhibit
Summit attendees enjoyed seeing this special exhibit at the Museum of American History. The girls were taken on a fascinating journey from the coming of the railroad to a California town in 1876 to the role of the streetcar and the automobile in creating suburbs to the global economy of Los Angeles in 1999. The group saw historic artifacts as they once were, a vital part of the nation’s transportation system and the business, social, and cultural history of the country.
3:00 – 5:00 pm
Challenge Project Field Work
With each of the four teams of Summit students led by the teams from Carnegie Mellon University, University of Memphis and University of Pennsylvania, the girls rolled up their sleeves for the academic challenge project to examine multi-modal scenarios to determine the out-of-pocket, emissions, and time costs and total overall “cost” for each mode of transportation.
6:00 – 7:00pm
Dinner at Carmine’s Restaurant
After a fun-filled day of learning, the girls feasted on Italian food at Carmine’s Restaurant while bonding and sharing laughs.
7:00 – 9:00pm
Tour the Monuments
Thursday evening ended with a hop-on, hop-off guided tour of the monuments via DC’s new Circulator Bus. The group was inspired by all the history that these landmarks carry, their inherent patriotism, and what America is all about!
friday, june 24, 2016
8:00am – 9:30am
White House Tour
The third day of the 2016 DC Summit kicked off with a tour of the White House, having the opportunity to visit the Ground floor and State floor.
11:00am – 1:00pm
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
Though many of the girls did not know of the NTSB before their tour, upon finishing their visit, many had ambitions of someday working there on forensics engineering. They learned about investigating transportation accidents and what path of study would lead them to a role at the NTSB, and about having an impact on the industry by not only determining the probable cause of accidents but also making safety recommendations aimed at preventing future accidents.
Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center
At the Turner-Fairbank- Highway Research Center, the girls had the opportunity to visit three of their labs (Saxton Operations, Human Factors, and Concrete) and meet dedicated scientists and engineers with expertise in civil, structural, pavement, chemistry, safety, mathematics, computational development, modeling and simulation, information technology, Intelligent Transportation Systems, aerodynamics, imaging, geometric design, and many more. The Summit participants even got to see connected vehicles.
Cherry Blossom Dinner Cruise on the Potomac
After a very full two days of programming and field work, Summit participants kicked back and enjoyed a first-class meal and beautiful views while aboard a private yacht cruise on the river.
saturday, june 25, 2016
8:30am – 9:30am
Summit participants began Saturday with presentation preparation by attending a powerful session with Susan Schoenfeld. This was a great way to prepare for the challenge project presentations they’d be creating next!
11:00am – 12:30pm
Challenge Project Preparation and Presentations
The Summit crew headed over to the University of District of Columbia where they started with a tour led by Dr. Malva Reid, Associate Dean. The four teams then prepared and presented their findings as the conclusion to the Summit academic challenge project. Clearly the mentees learned a lot—not just about transportation, but about communications and presentation skills. Excellent work!
1:00pm – 2:30 pm
College Information Panel Discussion
A phenomenal group discussion began when young transportation professionals and college students sat at the front of the auditorium and fielded questions from the Summit participants about college education and university life. Everything from the application and admissions process was discussed, and everyone in the room added value to the lively conversation, including some of the mentors who were able to provide information from the perspective of transitioning from college to the early stages of one’s career.
6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Banquet and Graduation Ceremony
In conclusion to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Summit participants, the 22 mentees received certificates of participation and completion in the company of Marcia Ferranto, Past President and CEO of WTS International.
sunday, june 26, 2016
Closing Remarks and Breakfast
Bryna Helfer, Senior Director of Public Engagement at the U.S. Department of Transportation, closed out the 2016 Transportation YOU DC Youth Summit by talking about the transportation industry, bringing together all that the Summit participants had learned over the course of the Summit program. She talked about how influential one could be, and how to start “collecting” people on one’s academic and professional journey to success. All the participants gathered at the conclusion of the remarks for a great pretzel-twisting teamwork exercise, which drilled home the fact that no great accomplishment is ever achieved alone.
All Summit participants, committee members and WTS staff left the Summit with the palpable sense that what they are doing in their lives right at this moment is a strategically important part of the country’s future success.
WTS International extends special thanks to Summit supporters Southwest Airlines and Lea+Elliott, without whom the Transportation YOU DC Summit would not have been accessible to many of the 2016 program participants.