Advancing Women in Transportation

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Transportation YOU is a hands-on mentoring program to introduce girls ages 13-18 to transportation careers via STEM topics.  Developed by WTS International in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Transportation and The White House, WTS chapters across the country produce a variety of local mentoring programs.

The Northern Utah Chapter's program includes participation in Expanding Your Horizons workshops, an annual day-long summit, and monthly mentoring sessions at the Salt Lake Center for Science Education, a public charter school. For more information, contact Amanda Harris, Transportation YOU chair for Northern Utah.

Northern Utah Chapter Hosts Second Annual Transportation YOU Youth Summit

On May 22, 2014, the Northern Utah Chapter of WTS hosted its second annual day-long Transportation YOU youth summit. The highly successful event drew middle and high school girls from one of Salt Lake City’s most ethnically diverse and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods to learn about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers in the transportation industry.

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Building off of the first summit held in 2013, the Northern Utah Chapter convinced the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) to partner with the chapter for the second summit as part of the agency’s newly launched education initiative. Through their co-sponsorship of the event, the UDOT allowed the use of their facilities and the involvement of several staff members to participate in the day’s activities.

The events of the summit included inspirational opening and closing presentations by Teri Newell, UDOT Region Three Director, and Robin Hutcheson, Director of Transportation for Salt Lake City, both the first women in Utah to hold their respective positions. The rest of the day was filled with three breakout sessions where the students learned about wet

land and hydrology considerations in transportation planning, construction materials and materials testing, and meteorology and traffic management. Each session included hands-on activities or tours. In the wetlands and hydrology session, students were given the task of planning a new roadway through an area of identified wetlands to connect to communities while minimizing the impact to the wetlands and its associated hydrology and balancing those strategies with the potential effects to the neighborhoods through which the road would pass. In the materials session, students learned about the properties of construction materials, such as concrete, and then used combinations of materials, including sand, rocks, marbles, and stale marshmallows to create their own materials cylinder that was then crushed in a concrete press to test its strength. In the third session, students toured the UDOT Traffic Operations Center where they learned about fiber optic technology, traffic signal programming, and traffic camera monitoring. They also learned about weather forecasting and its importance in allowing the UDOT to proactively management roads, deploy snow plows, and otherwise ensure safe travelling conditions. By the end of the day, the once quiet and shy audience of girls had turned into a loud, inquisitive, and excited group of would-be transportation professionals!

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The summit received high praise from the educators in attendance and the UDOT managers who either participated in or observed event. Based on the success of the summit, the UDOT has expressed interest in forming a more permanent partnership with the Northern Utah Chapter to continue the Transportation YOU youth summit in the future and it expand it to reach more schools and more areas of the state. 

 

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