News on WTS Student Chapters in the Southeast
FIU | GaTech | UF
Florida International University
As a newly established chapter, the Florida International University (FIU) Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) Student Chapter is focusing on advertising our chapter and attracting more students, especially female students, to the area of Transportation Engineering in the academic year of 2013-2014. Working towards this goal, we held a variety of academic and social activities with the involvement of students at various levels. One of such highlighted activities was the Engineering Expo, an engineering-related community service event, held on Feb. 21, 2014. Our Executive Board members served as tour guide for the elementary school, middle school and high school students. Members also acted as presenters in the IITS (Integrated Intelligent Transportation System) lab and the Driving Simulator lab during the Engineering Expo, introducing transportation engineering to them and arousing their interests in this area. Similar presentations and tours were shown to the FIU freshmen who had not yet selected majors.
Attending conferences is a good way to facilitate our professional development. Our WTS student members attended the 93rd TRB Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. and where they presented papers. In addition, we also participated in the WTS International Reception and STRIDE Reception during TRB, which gave us a great opportunity to communicate with other professionals. At the local level, our Executive Board members and faculty advisor attended the WTS South Florida Section (SFWTS) Annual Scholarship Event. During this event, they communicated with the SFWTS officers and members, gaining a lot of useful information that would help developing our chapter.
In terms of academic events, we invited guest speakers from public and private sectors to give technical presentations. For example, on Jan. 24, 2014, Ms. Odalys Delgado, the AICP planner at the HNTB Corporation, was invited to the FIU Engineering Center and gave an interesting presentation that covered the transit options to Port Miami Feasibility Study. In collaboration with other student chapters, we invited Mr. Javier Rodriguez to give us an introduction to the intelligent transportation systems inFDOT District Six and the future of managed lanes in South Florida. We also presented webinars every few weeks on a variety of subjects, ranging from transportation planning to traffic operations. It is worth mentioning that these events were open to all interested students other than members. Refreshments offered afterwards provided an ideal atmosphere for socializing and discussing ideas about the presented subjects.
Thanks to the financial supports from the FIU Council for Student Organization (CSO) and FIU College of Engineering and Computing, we were able to make the aforementioned accomplishments. We are planning to host more transportation engineering-related events with potential funding from the STRIDE UTC, so that we can better advertise our chapter as well as attract more students, especially female students, to our program.
Somaye Fakharian Qom, President, FIU WTS Student Chapter, Sfakh002@fiu.edu
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Georgia Institute of Technology (GaTech)
WTS at GT ended the 2013 Fall Semester with two successful events! One was a Transportation YOU Big-Little Sister Meeting at Grady High School in conjunction with the WTS Atlanta Chapter. During the meeting, WTS at GT members led a college prep activity and played “Transportation Jeopardy” with the “little sisters.” This was just one of the many Transportation YOU events that have been aimed at supporting the girls as current students, introducing them to transportation engineering, and encouraging them to pursue STEM degrees in college. The other event was the Holiday Social (pictured below) with students and faculty members from Georgia Tech’s Transportation Systems Engineering Program. “Cookies, cake, coffee, and conversation” was the perfect combination to close out the semester!
In January 2014, WTS at GT reconvened in high attendance at the WTS Annual Winter Reception at the TRB Meeting in Washington D.C. Here, students had the opportunity to network with fellow students and professionals. Not too long after returning to Atlanta, the chapter volunteered with Cool Girls Atlanta, an organization that is dedicated to the empowerment of girls – mostly at risk teens in the Atlanta area. The chapter members along with other volunteers did activities with the girls to help develop their interview skills by going over potential questions, holding mock interviews, and providing feedback. WTS at GT continued volunteer work with Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day at Chamblee Charter High School in February. Georgia Tech members gave interactive presentations on college prep and civil engineering! Also in February, Ms. Kyung-Hwa Kim, who heads transportation modeling at the Atlanta Regional Commission, joined WTS at GT for a lunch and learn (right). Very well received by all who were in attendance, Ms. Kim talked about the current challenges of transportation modeling in the Atlanta region as well as the current approaches for overcoming those challenges!
WTS at GT looks forward to hosting a number of other events this semester, including a tour of the Atlanta Beltline, another lunch and learn at the end of March, and a joint event with WTS Atlanta. For information about these events and WTS@GT, check out our blog: wtsatgt.blogspot.com
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University of Florida
During the spring 2014 semester, the WTS student chapter held general body meetings every few weeks to allow UF students to stay updated on current issues in transportation and upcoming activities and events. These meetings also promote networking by inviting students to gather at social events afterwards.
This semester, the WTS student chapter began the year with an education fair at Monteocha New Life Church, in a northern rural area of Gainesville (left). During the fair, kids had the opportunity to learn about engineering through fun activities. During the 3 hour fair, students made straw bridges, and constructed aluminum foil boats and then loaded them with pennies to see how many pennies they could float before the boat sank. This was the first educational fair that the WTS Florida Gator student chapter has done with the Monteocha New Life Church. The church was so pleased with our involvement, they plan to make it an annual event!
As the semester continued on, the WTS student chapter hosted a workshop with Marsha Anderson-Bomar, titled “The Language of Leadership.” Ms. Anderson-Bomar is a senior principal engineer at Stantec. In addition, she was the first female International President of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, served as President of the Transportation and Development Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and is Vice Chair of the Committee on Critical Infrastructure. During the workshop, Ms. Anderson-Bomar provided the students with an interactive workshop that gave them a chance to experience how to be stronger as their career progresses on the way to the boardroom.
Also this semester, through the financial support of Stantec, the student chapter was able to purchase polo’s for the executive board for the first time (right)! Through purchasing polo’s, the officers will be able to represent the WTS student chapter at events, and around campus. It is expected that the additional advertising of the chapter around campus will help to gather more members. The WTS Florida Gator Student Chapter got to wear their polo’s at the March 24-25, 2014 University Transportation Center (UTC) Conference for the Southeastern Region, which was hosted this year by Georgia Tech and held in Atlanta, Ga. During this conference, the UF WTS and ITE student chapters lead a joint student chapters’ session that was attended by Tuskegee University, Florida International University, Georgia Tech, University of Kentucky, and Florida State University. The purpose of this meeting was to come up with a regional project to serve the southeast. Also during this student session, Tiffany Jackson, director of chapter development at WTS International, spoke about student chapter creation and opportunities with WTS International.
In addition to the academic events, the WTS Student Chapter participated in several community service events. The first community service event of the spring semester was the group’s 5th cleanup of the street they adopted in spring 2012 through the City of Gainesville Adopt-A-Street Program (pictured at left with Cody Impton, Sophia Saportas, Jamie Fan, Jessica Wallet, and Derek D'Adesky). The student chapter also participated in Transportation YOU! Activities, such as volunteering at Family Engineering Night at Kimball Wiles Elementary. Also, the chapter joined forces with the UF ITE student chapter to host a booth during the University of Florida’s Engineering Week. At the booth, students from local grade schools were able to build Lego cars and race them down a ramp to learn about aerodynamics. Furthermore, the booth had a traffic signal and traffic signal controller that the kids were able to see inside and learn about.
To finish up the spring 2014 semester, WTS will hold officer elections, as many of the WTS officers anticipate graduating at the end of the semester, leaving several vacancies to be filled by upcoming, enthusiastic leaders in the transportation field!
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