STEM-focused curriculum engages students in engineering and leadership experiences relevant to Los Angeles infrastructure
LOS ANGELES (March 13, 2019) – The successful SPARK LA partnership between HNTB Corporation and the Los Angeles Board of Public Works is underway for the third year at Los Angeles Unified School District’s all-girls secondary school – the Girls Academic Leadership Academy. 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.
In February, approximately 25 students enrolled in the free after-school program, which covers topics such as bridge and airport design, water engineering, rail planning, and mobility and technology. HNTB, in collaboration with the Board of Public Works, developed the eight-week curriculum of interactive sessions related to infrastructure. Led by Laura Mohr, PE, HNTB transportation group director and vice president, the weekly sessions bring experts in various infrastructure fields into the classroom for discussion and hands-on projects. Clients and colleagues are included in the presentations for students to see a variety of roles and role models within the industry. Participants will create an end-of-year project incorporating their learning and present their work at a Los Angeles City Hall Board of Public Works meeting in April.
“The students impress me every week with their creative ideas and ability to absorb new information,” Mohr said. “When we work together on projects, I can see future engineers, architects and planners.”
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. The school is building from its initial offering of sixth and ninth grades to all grades sixth through twelfth. GALA’s first senior class will graduate in 2020.
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.