Miranda_cropped_for_websiteWTS CH2M Partnership Scholarship
Miranda Barrus

Miranda Barrus’ interest in structures initially lured her into to studying civil engineering. But after taking many transportation electives, versatile internships, and the influence of many mentors along the way, she realized transportation was her true passion. Miranda is intrigued by transportation innovations, planning, design, and construction because she wants to be an engineer that is challenged to make transportation improvements to a community. She is dedicated to become a successful transportation engineer who makes positive contributions.

Miranda had the privilege of working for the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), OBEC Consulting Engineers, and the Washington State Department of Transportation, earning valuable, practical experience, and the confidence to excel in the transportation industry. Last spring Miranda passed the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, earned her Engineer-in-Training (EIT) certificate and is now enrolled in Oregon Tech’s graduate program.  Miranda’s graduate project aims to improve the safety of drivers and wildlife on major highways while restoring the environment by designing a wildlife crossing. She plans to complete a design and report of this bridge for future use by the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Upon completion of her graduate studies, Miranda is excited to begin her professional career with a reputable private firm where her contributions can improve the public transportation system. The element of transportation that strongly piques Miranda’s interest is urban design such as complete streets, road diets, and communities that satisfy mixed modes of transportation. She believes her internship with PBOT has had the greatest influence on this passion. Miranda looks forward to continuing her involvement with transportation organizations such as WTS once she graduates and is a professional engineer.



Kasey St. John

Kasey St. John has a passion for ensuring an exceptional quality of life for all members of her community, especially in terms of transportation options. She has four and a half years of experience at the Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG) in Oklahoma in its transportation department and has recently taken a position with one of its regional communities, the City of Sand Springs.

One of the first projects that came across her desk needed an advocate for better transit and para-transit services. Kasey found there was a huge gap between what the citizens needed and what the transit agency provided. She was committed to closing that gap. Kasey spent many months working alongside transit planners to determine the needs of community members and determining viable, cost effective options. Kasey submitted her recommendation for a service expansion and was approved by the city council. For the first time, this new service connects the south side of town, providing service to transit dependent populations. She hopes to continue providing these types of solutions, whether in her career or volunteer activities.

In her career, Kasey has had the opportunity to work on the multiple award-winning project, Fast Forward, which equipped her with ability to knock down barriers between local government and citizens. She has a passion for the connection between transportation and economic development, which has led to her desire to obtain a Master’s Degree.

As Kasey progresses through her studies, she looks forward to merging her passion for accessible transportation with communication skills to provide a new value in any organization or project that she works with.



Rachel James

Rachel James will soon complete her master’s program in civil engineering with emphasis on transportation at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a 2014 summa cum laude graduate of West Virginia University.  Later this year, Rachel plans to join the Federal Highway Administration Office of Research, Development, and Technology as a student trainee to gain practical experience while pursuing her PhD at UT Austin.
Transportation engineering captured Rachel’s attention at a young age. She grew up in a town in rural West Virginia where the only form of traffic control was a singular stop sign, so metropolitan areas and the engineering that went into mitigating the negative effects of a large population occupying a comparatively small geographical area interested her.  On a trip to Washington, DC when she was 13, while other students took photos of monuments and museums, Rachel photographed pedestrian countdown signals, major interchanges, and innovative intersection designs.

Rachel’s primary interest in transportation engineering lies in the synergistic relationship between intelligent transportation systems, big data, and the power of analytics. Ultimately, she’s interested in what this could mean for demand responsive transportation planning and operations. Through her graduate studies at UT Austin, Rachel has been exposed to predictive analytics, data mining, and modeling tools that could be harnessed to revolutionize our field, particularly as vehicles and infrastructure become more connected. She hopes to use the analytic skills she has acquired to lead our community into the future of big data.

Through Rachel’s graduate studies and career, she plans to explore the integration of state-of-the-art predictive analytics strategies with transportation big data. Her focus will be on creating practice-ready tools and frameworks for utilizing data. Rachel aspires to serve as a liaison between industry and academia to streamline the process of implementing cutting edge research into practice. 


Liliya Zeigler

Liliya Zeigler’s journey to becoming an engineer is a unique one. She has travelled to the United States all the way from Russia to pursue her dream of becoming an engineer. Liliya is currently enrolled at Old Dominion University in Virginia and is pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science degree in civil engineering. After graduation, her plans are to enroll in a graduate program to obtain a Master’s in civil engineering with a concentration in either transportation or structural engineering.

Liliya has always been fascinated by bridges and aspires to be involved in designing and building them. Her recent experience working for Johnson, Mirmiran & Thomson (JMT) in the transportation department as an intern has ignited her passion to work with roads, roadway design, and transportation itself. Liliya is committed to obtaining the proper training and education required to be a leader in this field.

While Liliya has always enjoyed participating in various extracurricular activities during her studies, as a new student from Russia, she struggled to fit in because of the language barrier. Fortunately, she was introduced to WTS where she made great connections and is now working toward the creation of a WTS ODU Student chapter. She also has plans to help attract high school girls to the industry by reaching out and inspiring them to pursue an education in transportation engineering. 


Rochelle Starrett

Rochelle Starrett is passionate about being a leader in the transportation industry. She believes that being a leader is especially important in the current politically-fraught transportation environment. Rochelle has been a leader in the Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering (CCEE) department at Iowa State University for the last two years in several different capacities.

Next fall, Rochelle plans to attend graduate school in Civil Engineering with a focus on sustainable transportation. Eventually she plans to earn a Ph.D. and become a professor. Rochelle’s passionate about studying bicycle and pedestrian issues to improve the user experience for alternative modes of transportation. As a professor, Rochelle aspires to be a leader by serving as a mentor for undergraduate and graduate students as many professors have done for her.

As outreach chair for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) for the past two years, Rochelle organized and volunteered at numerous community events, such as elementary school STEM nights and trail construction days, in addition to jointly organizing a charity ping-pong tournament that benefitted Bridges to Prosperity. Rochelle was named Iowa State University's Outstanding Senior by the Iowa Section of ASCE. She also served on the CCEE Curriculum Committee as a voting student representative where she provided vital student input on the department's curriculum and student petitions. As a voting member, she helped shape the future of the curriculum for this department. 


Soshia_cropped_for_websiteWTS JUNIOR COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP
Soshia Tymchek

Nearly ten years ago when Soshia Tymchek was fresh out of high school, she took a bold step and moved to California from her small hometown in the Midwest. Once there, Soshia landed a receptionist position with an engineering firm. But it wasn’t long before she realized she wasn’t challenged enough, so she regularly volunteered to assist the engineers with their work. One day a co-worker made a remark that served as motivation for Soshia for years to come: “Don’t you know you are only here to make sure the coffee doesn’t burn?” From that day on she made it her goal to prove him wrong. She worked through lunches and stayed after hours learning as much as she could. Soshia taught herself MicroStation and InRoads and worked hard to prove herself to managers and co-workers. Eventually, people started funneling drafting projects to Soshia’s desk until the day came when her manager asked her to officially work with the rest of the designers.

Now on the CAD team, Soshia continued to pitch in where needed in the office. Then, due to the recession, more than half of the staff was laid off; Soshia had to serve as the administrative assistant, marketing lead, and CAD designer, an assortment of tasks that allowed her to see how all aspects of the office worked.

Nine years later, Soshia continues to work at the same engineering firm. She now aspires to become a project manager or operations manager, and one day hopes to be the CEO. Her WTS Scholarship will help Soshia secure her college degree required to secure a leadership position.



Beth Dibiase

Beth Dibiase’s number one passion is science, specifically chemistry. She finds it relaxing—even therapeutic—to balance chemical equations, to solve for the pH in buffer problems, and to determine the quantity of heat produced in a q=mcΔT reaction. However, Beth has not been able find other girls at other school share this passion, a fact that is one of the main reasons Beth is looking forward to going to college and being around other young women who see the world through equations and lab goggles, as she does.

Beth already knows she will be majoring Chemical Engineering when she attends college in the fall. She has always wanted to pursue a career path that will have a direct and positive impact on the world and the people in it. After studying organic chemistry, physics, and calculus, Beth is convinced that this is her path. She is ready for the challenges ahead of her and prepared to work hard in order to advance our understanding of our Earth and its amazing inhabitants.

Beth hopes to become an expert in alternative fuels. She believes that this is the most important component in transportation. Beth understands this first hand because of her experience as a long distance runner. She practices transportation exclusively, transporting herself from the start line to the finish line. Energy and fuel is what powers any method of transportation, and that is what Beth aspires to create and improve as a chemical engineer. She hopes to become the next scientist to reenergize transportation industry.