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WTS Transportation YOU Youth Summit

August 4, 2015 05:55 PM
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The WTS Transportation YOU Youth Summit was held June 24-28th in Washington, DC.  WTS Mentors and Mentees were selected from WTS chapters across the US to participate in this five day intensive experience designed at providing high school-aged girls a broader exposure to careers in transportation.  The WTS Boston Chapter was represented by Yrvine Thelusma, a rising junior who attends Newton Country Day school, and her Mentor, Cynthia Carleo, Vice President at Geocomp Corporation. 

In total, 19 pairs of Mentors and Mentees joined WTS International (WTSI) President Marcia Ferranto, the WTSI Staff, and the Summit Committee, which included representatives of the Rutgers University Center for Advanced Infrastructure. This entire group joined together for an action-packed itinerary of technical tours, professional development seminars, mentoring sessions and an opportunity to hear from a panel of college students at Trinity University.

Highlights of the Summit included a visit to US Department of Transportation (USDOT) to gain an understanding of the branches of the USDOT and to learn about the many modes of transportation the agency oversees.  This visit culminated with an address from Deputy Secretary of Transportation Victor Mendez.

The group participated in several technical tours which included learning about GIS enhancements at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), visiting Google to hear about current developments on autonomous vehicles, and traveling to the  research and development labs at Federal Highway Administration’s Turner Fairbank Highway Research Center.  One of the most moving experiences was a visit to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Training Center in Ashburn, VA where we heard a presentation on the cause of the1995 crash of TWA Flight 800 and were able to then tour the airplane hangar where forensic experts had reconstructed a portion of the wreckage.

A key objective of the Summit was to provide the students a broader exposure to the many modes of transportation.  To facilitate this, Rutgers University organized a Challenge Project where the Mentees worked in groups and were assigned a case study of a passenger who needed to use transportation to accomplish daily life tasks. For each scenario the Mentees needed to work through the cost and routing options for their base case, then the Mentees were presented with an added human or external factor to account for in the travel, such as visual impairment, having a leg in a cast or pushing a baby stroller. They had to adjust for these factors when looking at the mode, cost and total travel time of the route.  On the final day of the Summit, the Mentee groups presented their case studies to demonstrate their ability to pull the concepts all together.

At our final dinner, Mentees were presented with certificates of completion and we were all honored to hear from Federal Transit Administration Acting Administrator Therese McMillan who provided sage words of career advice:  have passion in everything you do, use effective and clear communication in all of your work and embrace the power of mentoring by finding a mentor for yourself and becoming a mentor for others.

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