HNTB and SPARK LA program at Girls Academic Leadership Academy launches fifth year

The STEM-focused curriculum kicks off its fifth year to encourage girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

LOS ANGELES (March 26, 2021) – The successful SPARK LA partnership between HNTB Corporation and the Los Angeles Board of Public Works is embarking on its fifth-year program 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.

HNTB’s Laura Mohr

SPARK LA accepted applications from enrolled students for the free afterschool program which covers topics such as bridge, tunnel and airport design; water engineering; and rail planning. HNTB, in collaboration with the Board of Public Works, developed five weeks of virtual sessions related to infrastructure. Led by Laura Mohr, PE, HNTB rail/transit group director and vice president, the weekly sessions bring experts in various infrastructure fields into the discussion and to guide students in hands-on projects. At the end of the program, participants create a project incorporating their learning and present their work at the Los Angeles City Hall for the Board of Public Works.

“This year presents a challenge in bringing the program directly into homes through a web conference format,” said Mohr. “Our team has had a year of experience in the remote workplace to apply their knowledge and leadership successfully through a virtual format.”

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.

HNTB is working to expand the SPARK program to additional schools in the Southern California region, including the Inland Empire and Orange County.

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.