STEM-focused curriculum engaged a fifth group of girls in engineering and leadership experiences relevant to Los Angeles infrastructure
LOS ANGELES (June 21, 2021) – The successful SPARK LA partnership between HNTB and the City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works wrapped up the program’s fifth year at Los Angeles Unified School District’s all-girls secondary school – the Girls Academic Leadership Academy: Dr. Michelle King School for STEM.
SPARK LA helps support the school’s STEM curriculum – science, technology, engineering and math – which aims to attract more female students to pursue degrees and professions where females traditionally are underrepresented.
SPARK LA accepts applications from enrolled students for the free afterschool program which covers topics including bridge and airport design, water engineering and rail planning. HNTB, in collaboration with the Department of Public Works, developed five weeks of virtual sessions related to infrastructure. The sessions brought experts in various infrastructure fields into the discussion to guide students in hands-on projects. At the end of the program, students heard from a panel of Department of Public Works leaders, including three board commissioners. The students learned even more about STEM careers and leadership and were given the opportunity to ask questions.
“Although this year the virtual setting presented some challenges, positive feedback received from the students and GALA reinforces that we are truly making a difference,” said Lilly Acuña, HNTB environmental planner and SPARK LA program leader. “We look forward to continuing the partnership and the SPARK LA program for many years.”
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 STEM curriculum.
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 students.