February 02, 2017
LAWT News Service
HNTB Corporation has teamed up with the Los Angeles Board of Public Works to support the Los Angeles Unified School District’s first all-girls middle school – the Girls Academic Leadership Academy (GALA).
The collaborative SPARK LA partnership between the city of Los Angeles and HNTB supplements the new school’s focus on a STEM curriculum – science, technology, engineering and math – to attract more female students to pursue degrees and professions where females traditionally are underrepresented.
At a Women in STEM symposium earlier this year, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that GALA was chosen to initiate the SPARK Program in Los Angeles to provide an engaging curriculum for GALA students that includes engineering and design challenges to create interest for STEM.
“We fully support the mayor’s goal to develop gender parity in city leadership roles and are taking steps with our SPARK LA program to increase the interest of young women in engineering, construction and maintenance, which are traditionally male dominated fields,” said Public Works Commissioner Heather Repenning. “This innovative program engages middle-school students in hands-on activities with industry practitioners to generate excitement and interest to pursue STEM careers in the design, construction and engineering of public infrastructure projects.”
“We are honored to play a key role in the education of young girls by sharing our passion for engineering, architecture and planning with meaningful, hands-on experiences through our SPARK program in Los Angeles,” said Laura Mohr, PE, HNTB vice president, rail/transit group director and SPARK LA program leader. “By engaging and inspiring students with opportunities that challenge them to think critically and build on their leadership skills, we are empowering young girls to become the next generation of STEM leaders.”
HNTB, in collaboration with the Board of Public Works, is developing 16 interactive sessions related to infrastructure, including field trips to the Hyperion Treatment Plan and the Crenshaw Light Rail Construction site. Sessions will be led by a team of practitioners who will share career information and help small teams develop year-end projects that incorporate their learning. These projects will be presented to the Board of Public Works at City Hall.
Since the school opened in August 2016, GALA’s extensive community and educational partnerships ensure that students have access to the latest information in STEM fields, leadership training, and post-secondary preparation. The school welcomes all girls within the LAUSD who are committed to a highly rigorous, college preparatory curriculum focused on science, technology, engineering and math. By the 2019-20 school year, GALA plans to offer education for girls in grades 6-12.
Across the country, HNTB engages in various programs and activities to create awareness with young people to inform them about careers in engineering, architecture and planning. In addition, many HNTB offices work with local organizations and schools to provide job-shadowing opportunities for high school students so they may become familiar with potential careers in these fields. HNTB also supports employees who attend career day events at their local schools to present information on careers in engineering and transportation to elementary and middle school age students.