Lisa Loftus-Otway, CM2‘s Assistant Director for Research, Dr. Gian-Claudia Sciara, a CM2 funded researcher and Assistant Professor at UT Austin, and Nicole McGrath, Graduate Research Assistant for Administration, participated in a career panel for Girlstart’s Take it to the Streets Summer Camp in conjunction with the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) Heart of Texas Chapter (HOT). CM2 Support Partner Ashley McLain of Cox|McLain Environmental Consulting, Inc. was also part of the career panel.
Girlstart offers STEM education across Texas (as well as the Boston area and the Bay Area in California) with after school, summer camp, and community STEM programs for girls. The Take it to the Streets Camp was a weeklong set of activities for 4th and 5th grade girls premised on learning the ins and outs of what goes on in a city. Campers learned the components of a city, the engineering involved in city planning, how nature interacts with cities, and how to incorporate new technology in city planning. Campers even use coding skills to program their own autonomous vehicles!
On top of the hands-on activities, the campers get to hear from women in the industry and learn about their career paths. Lisa, Gian-Claudia, Nicole, and Ashley joined members of the Heart of Texas chapter of the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) for two separate panels on June 13 and June 20 in the Austin metropolitan area. Panelists came from a diverse background and discussed their careers in urban planning, academia, transportation engineering, environmental planning, and marketing.
The career panel served an important role in the week’s activities. The campers learned about the different types of jobs available in the transportation industry and heard about the panelists’ different career journeys. The girls asked questions about the kind of education and training needed for transportation careers, what a typical workday looks like, and whether panelists had to move for their career opportunities.
Commenting on the panels Ashley McLain said, “I always enjoy looking into the big, curious, fidgety eyes of elementary school girls full of promise! I’m not sure how much detail they understand, but I know they are bright and can feel the excitement that everyone on our panel conveyed about the work we do. I hope they see Girlstart and WTS as ‘professional clubs’ they can look forward to joining in the future if they pursue a wide variety of fields!”
For at least one camper, the panels had a big impact. One of the WTS panelists, Ms. Melanie Norrell of AECOM, mentioned that “after our panel, one of the girls came up to me and said, ‘You all have the coolest jobs in the world.’” Melanie commented, “I was so excited to hear that!”
The future of transportation looks bright for girls and young women around the state. CM2 is proud to play a part in future workforce development through youth outreach and is looking forward to working with Girlstart and WTS in the future.
Thank you to Susanna Gallun for sharing her photos