News | METRANS and WTS-OC Partner for Girls' Engineering Day

Stop the Video



by Adylbek Abdykalikov, USC, IPPAM 2020

On February 22, 2020, WTS-Orange County's Transportation YOU Committee hosted the sixth annual Girls' Engineering Day in partnership with the Anaheim Union High School District, METRANS, and other generous sponsors. Girls’ Engineering Day is held each spring at South Junior High School in Anaheim, California. Transportation YOU Committees have been founded by WTS chapters around the country to mentor girls between the ages of 13-18 and spark their interest in STEM careers. Girls' Engineering Day is an annual, day-long event, hosted by WTS-Orange County (WTS-OC), that introduces middle school and high school girls to possible futures within the transportation industry, with a focus on engineering and technical transportation careers.


At this year’s event, nearly 150 students were exposed to transportation surveying, geotechnical engineering, environmental planning, and highway and traffic engineering. The program centered around each of these four subsectors, with educational stations for each, featuring hands-on activities designed to stimulate the girls’ interest and excitement for transportation. Each station had topic-specific tasks, which the girls were to complete by using teamwork and critical-thinking skills and with the aid of transportation professionals.  


Girls' Engineering Day participants, courtesy of WTS-OC.


The event also included a presentation on internship opportunities for young women, explaining the purpose and value of gaining internship experience relevant to their career interests. Students received tips on internship searching, and were encouraged to start looking for these opportunities as early as during high school. Attendees also heard from several notable speakers, including Margaret Novak, WTS-OC President; staff from Senator Ling Ling Chang's office; and U.S. Congressman Lou Correa.                                  


This event would not have been possible without the contributions of more than 100 volunteers from numerous firms and organizations within transportation and the STEM field, including then-METRANS student assistant Zhanibek Baktygali. Baktygali and his wife, an urban planner, worked with students at the interactive Highway and Traffic Station. Students at this station were tasked with designing a road through Disneyland to connect two nearby locations. “It was really exciting and wonderful to observe how these young students were very much interested and tried so hard. While designing the road, the students also needed to think about environmental impact and the budgeting," shared Baktygali. "I enjoyed volunteering at this event and was really impressed. I wish I had this opportunity back in my school days!"  


Volunteer and former METRANS student assistant Zhanibek Baktygali assists students.


It is safe to say that the sixth annual Girls' Engineering Day was a success. This program has become a welcome tradition that continues to serve as a valuable opportunity for middle and high school girls to immerse themselves in the transportation world, even if for just one day. And sometimes these small seeds are all it takes for someone to pursue a transportation career. 


About the Author:

Adylbek Abdykalikov is a recent graduate of the Masters of International Public Policy and Management Program at USC Price. He has working experience in various positions at the Ministries of Transport and Communication and Investment and Development of Kazakhstan and was in charge of Transportation and Civil Aviation policy development and implementation. He served as the lead writer to METRANS Newsletter and lead student event coordinator for METRANS and PSR.