HNTB SPARK program prompts LA Metro GoPass partnership with Montebello Unified School District

Program ensures accessibility for all students to ride transit without the worry of paying fares

LOS ANGELES (Nov. 17, 2022) – The successful SPARK LA partnership expanded this year to include Schurr High School in Montebello, California. It began six years ago with HNTB, the City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works, and the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Girls Academic Leadership Academy: Dr. Michelle King School for STEM.

The SPARK programs accept applications from enrolled students for the free after-school program which has covered topics including tunnel, bridge and airport design, water engineering and rail planning. The sessions brought experts in various infrastructure fields into the discussion to guide students in hands-on projects.

Recognizing the current and future demand for architects, engineers and skilled trade professionals, HNTB implemented the SPARK program to ignite passion in middle and high school students toward careers in the built environment. There is no greater need to develop this talent than in southern California where infrastructure is well-funded and should be delivered locally.

The SPARK Eastside four-week program concluded its inaugural year with 29 students participating in sessions led by technical experts in the fields of tunnel design, bridge design, transit planning and aviation. HNTB brought planners and engineers to discuss and inform students on career opportunities and guide them in hands-on projects.

LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis and LA Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins visited the students during the SPARK program at Schurr High School. “Our featured guest speakers enjoyed meeting and working with the SPARK students and wanted to ensure that the Montebello Unified School District would be a participant in the county-wide Metro GoPass Fareless Transit program,” said Nare Mnatsakanyan, Schurr High School teacher. “Now, all K-12 Montebello district students are eligible to get a free Metro GoPass to ride all buses and trains operated by Metro.”

“The SPARK program not only helps support each participating school’s STEM curriculum to attract more students to pursue degrees and professions in fields of transportation and infrastructure, but it also brings unexpected benefits, like free transit for students,” said Art Hadnett, HNTB senior vice president and regional growth officer. “Metro’s GoPass increases accessibility for all district students to ride Metro-operated buses and trains completely free and addresses transportation equity.”

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.