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Past WTS Scholarship Recipient Britton Hammit

britton
Many people wonder if WTS truly makes an impact on attracting women to careers in transportation. Britton Hammit's story is testament to the value of WTS programs. Britton's journey with WTS began 7 years ago when she had the opportunity to attend the 2012 DC Summit. As a mentee in the program, she embraced every opportunity to learn about careers in transportation. Since then, Britton has received 2 scholarships from WTS Colorado and WTS Arizona chapters that provided financial assistance towards her undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Wyoming. Today, Britton is completing a research fellowship at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, is a member of WTS and is the 2019 DC Summit Committee Chair. Early engagement with our youth does work!
Britton shared her unique experiences and memories with WTS in a candid interview. Her story is truly  inspirational and motivating.

How did WTS help you get to where you are today?

In 2011, I received the best scholarship rejection letter, ever.

As a college freshman, I applied for a WTS scholarship; I didn’t receive the scholarship but was nominated for the WTS TransportationYOU D.C. Summit. Thus, in March of 2012, I traveled to Washington D.C. for the Summit—which became a week of unforgettable experiences with a transformative impact. From touring FHWA’s Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC) to climbing up the control tower at Reagan Airport, I was introduced to a plethora of transportation careers that I’d never considered and left with a newfound motivation for pursuing an education in transportation.

A few months later, I was asked to participate in the planning committee and help lead the 2013 Summit. I jumped on the opportunity and embarked on a second week of unparalleled exposure to the transportation field. This second year, however, uncovered deeper personal passions of mentoring, educating, and leading.

Over the next years, I continued to seek mentoring, education, and leadership opportunities as I pursued my Civil Engineering degree. In Wyoming, WTS opportunities were limited, so I broadened my horizon to encompass other lifelong passions—such as coaching softball and working with AmeriCorps. I also took advantage of opportunities to teach freshman level courses, hold student positions in ASCE and ITE, and lead a connected vehicle research project aiming to mitigate the impact of adverse weather conditions. In 2015, wanderlust led me to Vienna, Austria where I continued building my foundation in transportation technology and completed graduate-level coursework in Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS).

Life came full circle when I accepted a fellowship at TFHRC in 2016—a favorite stop during my D.C. Summit experiences and a center dedicated to advancing innovation in transportation safety and operations. At TFHRC, I am contributing to FHWA projects related to traffic simulation modeling and innovative traffic operation strategies. Upon completion of my PhD in Transportation, I plan to dedicate my career towards introducing and championing innovative, technologically advanced, and sustainable solutions to improve transportation safety and mobility in city and state jurisdictions.

Since moving to D.C., I’ve connected with the local WTS chapter and serve on the TransportationYOU and Program Logistics committees. The D.C. Summit has been and will always be a passion of mine, and I have stayed involved as a committee member in 2017, co-chair in 2018, and am thrilled to chair the 2019 committee. I am humbled to be in positions to support and guide young women’s personal and professional development, and am motivated to continue this work, as I know—from personal experience—that the experience is life-changing.

Being part of the WTS TransportationYOU legacy has opened many doors and provided direction to my personal and professional passions. The friendships that I’ve built with women from the D.C. Summit committees and Arizona, Colorado, and DC WTS chapters have supported me tremendously over the past six years.

Which WTS Scholarships did you receive?

I have received two WTS scholarships from the WTS Colorado and WTS Arizona chapters that supported me through my undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Wyoming, allowing me to complete the first four years of college completely debt-free. These scholarships were incredibly generous, and I cannot express my gratitude enough to both the Colorado and Arizona chapters for their support of my education and the confidence these scholarships gave me as I worked through my education and began my transportation career.

What is it about the transportation industry that keeps you excited?

Wow, right now, just about everything. I really believe we’re on the cusp of huge changes in our industry; from Connected Vehicles to readily available Big Data and computational power to analyze those data sources to improve our current transportation network. I think the industry has a bright and dynamic future!

As the transportation industry starts leveraging 21st Century technology and begins stretching the boundaries of how transportation is defined, the work force is becoming more and more diverse. Transportation is no longer a civil engineer’s ball-game; in order to run Intelligent Transport Systems and operate Connected and Automated Vehicles, we need a diverse group of people with an array of skillsets. This facet of my job is one of the most exciting and rewarding because it allows me to work with so many talented colleagues and learn more about computer engineering, data analytics, and electronics. 

Where do you see yourself going next?

I am currently finishing the final months of my fellowship at Federal Highway’s Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center. I will graduate in December with my PhD in Transportation and am very enthusiastic about joining the work force. I am actively searching for a position in industry that will enable me to use what I’ve learned through my education and work experiences, while challenging me and giving me the opportunity to grow as a young professional.

My dream job is to do transportation planning and operations for the Olympic games, and I’ve definitely got my sights set on LA 2028!

Do you feel WTS is a worthwhile organization for others to be a part of?

One hundred percent, absolutely, yes. If you have the opportunity to go to an event, do it! If your chapter needs a volunteer, be that person! I have had the unique opportunity to see WTS from so many angles: as an 18-year-old, as a college student, and as a professional I’ve been a participant, a committee member, and a committee leader. From every view, from every experience, I’ve personally grown immensely. However, even more rewarding, I’ve had the opportunity to mentor and be mentored by the young ladies, the women, and the men that make WTS an incredible organization.

 

 

 

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