2017 DC Summit Diary

diary 1Twenty-six young women from across the U.S. and their mentors participated in the sixth annual Transportation YOU DC Youth Summit, a conference for students 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 21, 2017, 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 26 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 country’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 entire into the transportation industry when participants choose this path once they have completed their studies.diary 2

The steering committee itself included committee chair, Lora Byala, Foursquare ITP; Jasmy Methipara, USDOT; Felicia Boyd, Federal Aviation Administration; Harley Cooper, SEPTA; Britton Hammitt, TFRC; and Dr. Stephanie Ivey, University of Memphis; Corinna Carter, University of Memphis; and Charlotte Frei, DemanTrans, created a unique challenge project for the students. With the full support of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the five-day Summit took participants from the Metro to the DOT, from the National Transportation Safety Board to the Turner Fairbank Research Center, behind the scenes at Union Station and George Washington University, and each step of the way threading an academic challenge, college and professional planning, and all with the encouragement of VIPs from both the public and private sectors. Here’s a look:

Wed. June 21, 2017


6:30pm – 7:30pm  Meet ‘n Greet Dinner at the Omni Shoreham Hoteldiary 3

7:30pm – 9:00pm  Workshop: Developing aPersonal Mission Statement

Kicking off an intensive week of meeting high-profile and influential leaders in the transportation industry, Felicia Boyd, Western-Pacific Division Manager at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), led Summit attendees through the process of establishing a personal mission statement to utilize as a means of self-introduction. The girls put this skill into motion immediately as the Summit itinerary provided many opportunities for them to introduce themselves.

Thursday, June 22, 2017       

 diary 7

8:00am – 9:30am  US Department of Transportation

The 26 mentorship pairs visited the U.S. Department of Transportation and were given a glimpse into each of the different modes of transportation. Steering committee co-chair and FHWA employee Jasmy Methipara organized a panel of five representatives from various modes to discuss the unique paths they took to their transportation careers. The speakers included Angela Jacobs (FHWA), Melanie Stevens (PHMSA), Sheri Schaftlein (FHWA), Danielle Nelson (FTA) and Felicia Boyd (FAA). The panel discussion ended with a “getting to know the modes” Jeopardy game which tested the girls’ knowledge of the various modes.

9:30am – 10:00am  Meet and Greet with US DOT Executives and Networking with Power Womendiary 8

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 each of the DOT panelists who answered any questions attendees had for them.


11:00am – 1:00pm  National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)diary 9

Though many of the girls did not know of the NTSB prior to their tour, upon finishing their visit, many had ambitions of someday working there. 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. Special thanks to Paul Shuda and Cindy Keegan of NTSB for hosting a great tour. Without wasting any valuable time, the group lunched on the bus and headed to their next destination!


2:00pm – 4:15pm  Turner Fairbank Research Center

The Summit participants also visited FHWA’s Turner Fairbank Highway Research Center. Eisenhower Graduate Research Fellow and steering committee member, Britton Hammit, organized tours to five of the center’s labs: Federal Outdoor Impact Laboratory, Saxon Transportation Operations Laboratory, Hydraulics Laboratory, Concrete Laboratory, and Human Factors Laboratory. At the Turner Fairbank Research Center, the girls had the opportunity to meet dedicated scientists and engineers with expertise encompassing civil, structural, and pavement engineering; chemistry; safety; mathematics; computational development; modeling and simulation; information technology; hydraulics; aerodynamics; imaging; geometric design; visibility; and human factors. The students even got to see real connected vehicles.

6:00pm – 7:00pm  Dinner at Carmine’s Restaurant

After a fun-filled day of learning, the girls feasted on Italian food at Carmine’s while bonding and sharing laughs.

 7:00pm – 9:00pm  Tour the Monuments

diary 15Thursday evening ended with a hop-on, hop-off guided tour via DC’s new Circulator Bus of the monuments. Special thanks to Circe Torruellas, City Wide Planner of DC Circulator, for arranging the transportation. The group was inspired by patriotism and the hallmarks of American history.

Friday, June 23, 2017

8:00am – 9:30am  Capitol Tour

diary 16

The third day of the 2017 DC Summit kicked off with a tour of the Capitol, having the opportunity to visit the Rotunda and the perks of a private tour guide!


11:00 – 1:00 pm  Union Station Tour and Lunch

Through the gracious efforts of Past WTS International Chair, Beverley Swaim-Staley, and 2017 DC Summit Committee Chair, Lora Byala, the girls were given the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at Union Station. The wonderful leaders at Union Station gave the Summit attendees an in-depth look at the operations, and afterwards the group enjoyed lunch in Union Station at Pizzeria Uno!

1:30pm- 4:00pm

Work on Challenge Project at National Academy of Sciences Facility/TRB

diary 19

Next, the group ventured out to the Keck Center Building of the National Academy of Sciences and Transportation Research Board (TRB). Dr. Katherine Kortum, PE, Program Officer at Transportation Research Board hosted the group and arranged for space for the girls to work on their challenge project. The girls were ready to apply all that they learned during the Summit to their challenge of creating a safer route to school. The seven groups separated into their own corners and were focused on their challenge, which included engineering design, projecting costs and public education for establishing a safer route to school. 



6:00pm – 8:00pm  Dinner Cruise on the Potomac

diary 22

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 24, 2017

8:30am – 9:30am  Presentations Workshop

Summit participants began Saturday with presentation preparation by attending a powerful session with Marcy Schwab. This was a great way to roll up the sleeves for the challenge project presentation creation they’d be heading to next!

11:00am – 12:30pm  George Washington University

diary 25The Summit crew headed over to the George Washington University for a tour guided by Dr. Roddis and Dr. Hamdar. The teams of mentees 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 as well. Excellent work!

1:00pm – 2:30pm  College Information Panel Discussion

diary 27

A phenomenal 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!

6:30pm – 8:30 pm  Dinner Out on the Town at Lebanese Taverna

diary 28After an entire day of learning, the Summit crew was ready for a night out on the town. For many, it was their first time introducing their taste buds to Lebanese food! There were special presentations by the Summit Chair, Lora Byala, and WTS Chair, Diane Woodend Jones. It was a fun evening of great food, laughs and new friends!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

8:30am – 9:30am  Closing Remarks and Graduation Certificates

diary 29On the last morning together, there was plenty of hugging and exchanging of contact information among many. After the presidential breakfast at the Omni, Diane Woodend Jones, WTS International Chair, presented each mentee with a certificate of completion and a special thank you to all the mentors that participated.






9:30am – 10:30am  Special Presentation

diary 30Bryna Helfer, Assistant County Manager-Communications and Public Engagement for Arlington County, closed out the 2017 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, the challenge project team, 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 Foundation extends special thanks to Summit supporters Atkins and Lea+Elliott, without whom the Transportation YOU DC Summit would not have been accessible to many of the 2017 program participants. Special thanks to the following organizations for their involvement in the 2017 DC Summit:

  • U.S. Department of Transportation
  • Transportation Research Board
  • Union Station Redevelopment Corporation
  • HNTB
  • Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
  • Turner Fairbank Research Center
  • National Transportation Safety Board
  • George Washington University
  • University of Memphis
  • Marcy Schwab, Inspired Leadership, LLC
  • Foursquare ITP
  • Federal Aviation Administration
  • Bryna Helfer, Arlington County