By Prithvi Deore, USC Price MPL 2018
Transportation is of utmost importance for a constantly evolving and thriving city like Los Angeles. To keep up with development, urban transportation needs innovation at every step, and LA Metro created its Office of Extraordinary Innovation to do just this. On May 3rd, the Women’s Transportation Seminar’s LA chapter welcomed Chief Innovation Officer Dr. Joshua Schank and Metro Vendor/Contract Management Executive Officer Carolina Coppolo to the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Downtown LA.
Seven USC students participated in this event: Master of Planning students Prithvi Deore, Meiduo Ji, Ellie Zhang, Rui Zhang, and Biying Zhao and Master of Science in Engineering students Nicole Guo and Jimmy Mai. Their admission was made possible by academic sponsors METRANS, USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, and USC Viterbi School of Engineering, USC, and private sponsors John Livzey, Arthur Schurr, and Alexandra Spencer.
Kathy Simons, President of WTS-LA, introduced the student attendees to the speakers before lunch. "It was a great experience to meet professionals with various disciplines related to transportation,“ said Nicole Guo. “Participating in WTS-LA events is a good opportunity to improve communication skills and expand our professional networks. I was especially grateful to be introduced to the audience and be recognized as a student engineer from USC. I will definitely attend future WTS events to advance my career in the transportation field.
From left to right: Rui Zhang, USC Price School MPL 2018; Yilin Zhang, Price School MPL 2018; Meiduo Ji, Price School MPL 2018; Kathy Simons, WTS-LA President; Jimmy Mai, Viterbi School MSCE 2017; Nicole Guo, Viterbi School MSCE 2017; Prithvi Deore, Price School MPL 2018; Biying Zhao, Price School MPL 2016.
(Photo by John Livzey)
The discussion started after a wonderful lunch. The moderator asked questions about the need for innovation in transportation and Metro’s role in implementation of these ideas. Dr. Schank explained that innovation will drive cities ahead. He said ideas can be drawn from all over the world and executed in Los Angeles. Coppolo added that the relationship between their two offices ensures the exchange of ideas and implementation of innovative initiatives. They also spoke about the importance of small emerging entrepreneurs and organizations in transportation and how Metro welcomes and supports them.
The interaction between the speakers and audience was truly inspiring and offered great learning opportunity for the students. "Each time I attend a WTS event, I get an opportunity to communicate with people to demonstrate my experience and hear about their experience,” shared Rui Zhang. “I think it's very important to connect to the professional world as a student. This process helps us better understand the operation of different agencies in the world." Meiduo Ji loves to join in WTS-LA luncheon events because "it gives me opportunities to talk with so many professionals and learn at the same time!"
Prithvi Deore is a second year Master of Planning student at USC’s Price School of Public Policy. She is interested in active transportation and public transit. She loves to do extensive GIS mapping and spatial analysis. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.