Transportation YOU Debuts in NC!

The North Carolina Triangle Chapter of WTS is very excited about their Transportation YOU program that kicked off this fall.  One of the most exciting elements of NC Triangle’s Trans YOU efforts is the energy and participation of its members:  There are 23 WTS members either serving on the Transportation YOU committee, volunteering at an event, or participating as a mentor or speaker at an event.

But there’s more to a great Transportation YOU program than enthusiasm.  An event NC Triangle held this November has all the makings of success.  There were seven girls in attendance working with five speakers—local transportation professionals with different specialties and in different stages of their careers.   In addition to the speakers, small ice-breaker, and dinner, they all participated in a structural design activity. Here are the details about the speakers and the design activity:

Newspaper Tower Challenge

The girls were paired with mentors to make the tallest newspaper tower possible. Each team was provided with the following: four sheets of newspaper, five feet of masking tape, and scissors. The teams had 20 minutes to complete their towers. Each tower was unique in style and design. They measured each tower, tested the wind-resistance of each tower with a fan, and appointed a judge to determine the most aesthetically pleasing tower. The girls really enjoyed the interactive aspect of the activity (and the winners of each category enjoyed their prize—a Target gift card).  After the challenge they discussed the team effort and how each team’s collaboration was pivotal to their tower’s success. (For event instructions, click HERE.)

Roster of Speakers

The best way to put a Transportation career into context for a young student is for her to meet women in these roles and learn how they got their start, what they love about their job, and how their career fits into other aspects of their lives and other interests. Here are some highlights of the speaker presentations at the NC Transportation YOU event in November:

Deborah Todd, President of STATE Contracting, Inc., a transportation construction firm in Wake Forest, NC, prepared a slide show highlighting her success as a woman in business in the transportation industry. She owns and runs along with her husband a paving/transportation construction company in the Triangle. She showed the girls some of their recent projects, awards, and highlights of her personal life. She inspired the girls with her economic success, including showing that her transportation career allowed her to make a recent lake house and boat purchase.

Roula Qubain, a transportation architect with AECOM in Raleigh, NC, and President of the Triangle chapter of AIA (American Institute of Architects), used visually stimulating project photos.  She said that her inspiration to become architect, now practicing as a transportation architect, was through beautiful and interesting architectural images, specifically the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. The images she shared included: World Trade Center Transit Hub located at “ground zero.” She talked about her work life balance and her ability to raise a family along with the responsibilities of her work. She told the girls about how the financial benefits of her job have allowed her to travel internationally on a regular basis.

Nikki Hill, a roadway designer with AECOM in Raleigh, NC, said that she found about CADD/Graphic Arts Design when she was a newly married mother of one. She wanted to find a career that would be flexible enough to allow me time to spend with her family. She began in an entry level position with NC DOT Roadway Design and met a mentor, who told her about the great opportunities that the world of civil engineering had to offer. Nikki decided to go back to school and study civil engineering and she has loved it ever since.  She draws roadway plans for a number of projects in different parts of the world.

Laura Anderson, GIS Analyst / Junior Transportation Planner with URS Corporation in Morrisville, NC, said that she went to Central Michigan University and wasn’t sure what she wanted to major in, but after some research decided she wanted to major in GIS, and she took a few planning classes before realizing she wanted a degree in planning as well. With my position I have a variety of projects that I work on. With her skills, Laura may work one day making maps for a report, the next day she might be out in the field “GPSing” or going to public workshops for the projects. She loves the variety.

Sarah Wicklund, EI, Junior Traffic Engineer with the URS Corporation in Morrisville, NC, always knew she wanted to be an engineer. Through co-op placement at NCDOT, she was placed in Congestion Management and found something that piqued her interest: traffic engineering. Through her current job, she has learned about Transportation Planning and enjoys that as well. She gets to do things such as analyze road designs to determine how many lanes are needed or what type of intersection should be implemented.  She uses simulation software to create the proposed design and input the traffic volume to determine how smoothly the intersection (or corridor) will operate.  She also helps with environmental projects, determining the traffic impacts on the natural and human environments.

Things are really cooking at the WTS NC Triangle Chapter. In addition to this and other strong events they’ve held, they have plans for four more Transportation YOU events, including a “Mentor the Mentor” event.  To participate in a Transportation YOU program locally, find a local WTS chapter by clicking HERE.

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