WTS Student Chapter News, Fall 2014

Florida International University (FIU)

The student chapter of the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) at Florida International University had a great start in the 2014 Fall semester with official recognition from WTS international, a milestone in the chapter’s history. The chapter was established in 2013, and they are currently receiving financial support from the Dean’s Office of the College of Engineering and Computing, and with $1,500 and from Council for Student Organization at FIU, which includes floating funding up to $1,700. The increased budget provides the chapter with a bigger stage for hosting events and activities with the aim to promote women in transportation engineering.

WTS/ ITE 2014 Annual Meeting in Boca Raton on Nov 5-7, 2014One of the chapter activity highlights in this Fall semester is community service. FIU WTS Student Chapter, in collaboration with Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), started a project of “Evaluation of Downtown Pedestrian Priority Zone Strategies” in October 2014. Members collected field data, such as pedestrian accidents, existing geometry, etc., and conducted an investigation on evaluating 10 Pedestrian Priority Zone Strategies in Downtown Miami. This project is still in progress and will be completed in the Spring 2015 semester. FIU WTS Student Chapter is also a part of the mentoring program developed by South Florida WTS (SFWTS) with two members participating in the mentoring program after attending the ITE/WTS 2014 Annual Meeting with other chapter members in Boca Raton on November 5-7, 2014 (pictured right).

Inviting guest speakers from academia and industry to give transportation-related presentations has become a tradition with the FIU WTS Student Chapter. For example, on November 14, 2014, Ms. Evelin Legcevic, the Traffic Ops Production & Surveillance Engineer at the FDOT Traffic Operations Office was hosted at the FIU Engineering Center. She presented a very interesting topic on the Adaptive Signal Control Technology (ASCT) Pilot Project. In collaboration with another student chapter, Mr. Jesus Martinez presented on “Autonomous Vehicles: State of Practice and Applications”.

In addition to all of the academic or technical activities, FIU WTS Student Chapter closed out the 2014 Fall Semester with an amazing social event on November 21, 2014. WTS members, along with other students in the FIU Department of Civil andFIU WTS Student Chapter Members’ Achievements, Fall 2014 Environmental Engineering, celebrated diversity in department and gave presentations about their home countries. FIU WTS Student Chapter is proud of their members’ academic achievements. In Fall 2014, Mr. Xuanwu Chen, who is the current vice president, won the 2014 ITE District 10 ITE Henry P. Boggs Student Paper Award. Ms. Somaye Fakharian Qom, chapter president, received the ITS Florida Anne S. Brewer Scholarship.
FIU WTS Student Chapter Members’ Achievements, Fall 2014

Georgia Institute of Technology (GaTech)

WTS@GT - Kick-Off Meeting
On September 4th, the Georgia Tech chapter of the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS@GT), in conjunction with the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), the American Society of Highway WTS@GT - Kick-Off MeetingEngineers (ASHE), and Students for Progressive Transit (SfPT), held the annual kick-off meeting for transportation related student organizations. President Janille Smith-Colin introduced the new Board of WTS@GT, and outlined activities planned for the 2014-2015 academic year. The meeting was a great success with 20 old and new WTS@GT members attending.

WTS@GT Scholarship Roundtable
On September 18th, WTS@GT hosted its first general body meeting – a scholarship panel. Six scholarship winners shared their experience of applying for scholarships in transportation. Panel participants had won a wide range of undergraduate and graduate level scholarships, including the Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship, ASHE, ITE, WTS, and GDOT scholarships, just to list a few, and offered the audience key insights into how to be successful. Panelists talked about how to decide which scholarships to apply for, essay preparation, and identifying appropriate references.
WTS@GT Scholarship Roundtable
WTS@GT Transportation Leaders Panel
On October 9th, 2014, four of the top female transportation leaders in Atlanta teamed up as a panel to share their experiences and insights from working in the transportation industry. The panel was composed of Rukiya Eaddy, Chief of Staff for MARTA: Faye DiMassimo, Director at Cobb County DOT; Heather Alhadeff, President of Center Forward; and Margie Pozin, Transportation Group Leader in STV Group. The discussion offered perspectives from a variety of transportation career pathways including transit, county and city government, and engineering and planning consulting. The panelist talked about successes they had experienced throughout their careers, as well as the challenges of being women in transportation which was inspiring and empowering to all who attended the meeting, both male and female students.

WTS@GT and Rebecca Serna Talk BicyclingWTS@GT and Rebecca Serna Talk Bicycling
On November 20, Rebecca Serna, Executive Director of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, came to Georgia Tech to share her experiences and insights as one of the leading bicycle advocates in Atlanta. She also discussed the future of cycling in Atlanta, and shared how students and researchers could contribute to moving the bicycling agenda forward. Rebecca has degrees in Urban Policy, Planning and Economic Development from Georgia State University and was a Fulbright Fellow in Bogota, Colombia. She has worked for GDOT, helped found Citizens for Progressive Transit, and launched Atlanta Streets Alive.

WTS@GT 2014 Scholarship Winners
Atiyya Shaw, Helene M. Overly Graduate Scholarship
Margaret-Avis Akofio-Sowah, Leadership Legacy Graduate Scholarship
Kelly Smulovitz, Sharon D. Banks Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship

University of Florida (UF)

K-12 Volunteer Activities
WTS volunteered again at the annual PK Yonge Research school carnival this year. The carnival took place on Friday, October 3, 2014, at the UF campus. Volunteers from the WTS Florida Gator Student Chapter partnered with ITE (Institute of Transportation Engineers) to demonstrate scientific and engineering principles through different activities at the carnival. The most popular activity was one where students were tasked in designing and creating a boat out of aluminum foil. The goal was to determine how many pennies it would take (maximum load) to sink the boat. This activity made students think about why the boat sinks, how can it be improved to hold more (what parameters can be changed), and why does the boat float in the first place.

WTS Transportation Symposium
The WTS student chapter at UF held its annual transportation symposium with guest panelists from the Eno Center for Transportation, Tindale Oliver and the City of Gainesville.  Speakers addressed the future of transportation and funding. [read more]

4th WTS Transportation Symposium on November 13, 2014 at the University of Florida campus