HNTB’s SPARK LA program concludes sixth year; expands to include second school

Successful SPARK programs were celebrated at a recent Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board meeting

LOS ANGELES (June 7, 2022) – The successful SPARK LA partnership that started with HNTB and the City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works wrapped up the program’s sixth year at Los Angeles Unified School District’s all-girls public STEM school – the Girls Academic Leadership Academy: Dr. Michelle King School for STEM. This year, the program also expanded for the first time to include Schurr High School in Montebello, California.

“Our goal was to reach more students with this exciting educational program, and we were thrilled to partner this year with Schurr High School, a comprehensive four-year public school in the Montebello Unified School District,” said Lilly Acuña, HNTB environmental planner and SPARK LA program leader. “SPARK Eastside concluded its inaugural year with 29 students participating in person for four weeks led by technical experts in the fields of tunnel design, bridge design, transit planning and aviation. We welcome the opportunity to continue our partnerships with the SPARK programs, hoping to inspire students for many years.”

The successful SPARK programs were celebrated at a recent Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board meeting.

LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis speaks to SPARK students

“I’m thrilled that the Gold Line Eastside Extension Project was part of SPARK’s curriculum for this year’s cohort,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, First District. “Metro Los Angeles is working tirelessly to connect more people to more places with better transit and to that end, am so grateful for the support of these students in making our transit system more equitable. I can’t wait to see how successful they all become!”

HNTB collaborated with many volunteers to make the SPARK programs at GALA and Schurr High School a memorable, interactive experience for the students.

“We are so happy to partner this year with volunteers from Cordoba Corporation; HDR, Inc.; LA County Department of Public Works; LA Metro; STV, Inc.; Traylor Bros. Inc.; and Urban Movement Labs, along with HNTB’s own technical experts, who are passionate about inspiring the next generation,” said Acuña.

A teacher at Schurr High School wrote “I want to thank everyone who has been involved in making this program a success and bringing it to Schurr High School. Our students were excited to learn so much about the vast array of career paths in the STEM world, some of which they didn’t know existed. I can’t wait to see what comes next, and to continue educating our students in the career opportunities available for them in the future.”

The SPARK programs accept applications from enrolled students for the free after-school program which has covered topics over the years 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.

SPARK helps support each school’s STEM curriculum – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – which aims to attract more students to pursue degrees and professions in various fields of transportation and infrastructure.

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.