On June 25, 2019, Sherri Berexa traveled with a student from a local high school to Washington DC for four packed days. On day one of the summit they toured the Turner-Fairbank Research Center. At the TFRC they saw research on bridge scour and three different projects involving autonomous vehicles. They were able to see and touch autonomous vehicles and experience the simulations created to test them and driver behavior. Then, on to the US Department of Transportation, where they toured the crisis room - and got to see the room the Secretary of Transportation uses for cabinet meeting. At the US DOT they heard from women with diverse jobs and education paths with careers in transportation. The students/mentees then conducted an intersection study and worked on analyzing the results.
On day two, the group toured the US Capitol Building and were able to use the tunnels to walk to the library of Congress. From there they all headed to the Senate building for lunch at the building cafeteria and then to a Senate hearing room. Several staffers shared about their careers and answered questions. Next was a tour of the Reagan National Airport, where again, several impressive women shared what they do and the path that led them to careers in aviation/transportation.
Their last full day began with a tour of George Washington University with a focus on the Engineering building. At the Engineering building, staff and students presented research in progress on autonomous vehicles. They used a GWU lecture room for the presentations the mentees gave on the intersection studies they had conducted. Let’s just say, the future of transportation is in good hands! Throughout the summit they were organized into four teams: boats, cars, trains, and planes. The study and presentations were made by the groups. Then it was on to the Amazing Race at the National Mall where they found WTS was able to arrange to have “circulator” busses devoted entirely to the Amazing Race! After a long, hot day, they had a bit of time to clean up and change for the closing banquet.
Included in all four days was an opportunity to meet women with careers in various aspects of transportation, with varying college degrees from law degrees, bachelors to PhDs, and career-stage ranging from entry level to department head. They heard from, and were encouraged by, amazing women. It was a fantastic opportunity for both mentors and mentees to make contacts and be inspired about careers in transportation!