News | UCLA Grad Kendall Kaufmann Advocates for More Equity in Engineering

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by Dan Lamere, USC, Masters of Urban Planning 2021

Meet Kendall Kaufmann, a 2020 University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) graduate with a BS in Civil Engineering and a minor in Urban and Regional Studies.


Growing up in Montreal, Canada, Kendall attained a unique perspective on public transportation systems early in life. “I was able to take transit everywhere. Even as a kid I would take the city bus and Metro to school and downtown and it gave me a lot of freedom. Montreal is also a very walking and biking-friendly city. The arts and socialized living are also huge in Montreal. This shaped me without me realizing it.”


Kendall gained yet another valuable reference point when she relocated to the Bay Area upon entering high school. She recognized that despite the many positive qualities of the Bay Area’s transportation infrastructure there was much room for improvement within its many public transit networks. “Moving to the Bay Area was crazy because I became surrounded by folks who would say things like ‘Caltrain (the Bay Area's commuter rail system) is so great.’ They would rave about the transit forever. But I saw from an outsider's point of view that not only is it cost-prohibitive but it is also unreliable and unclean and loud, among many other things that people were settling for.”


Kendall soon realized that she could see herself in a career in urban or transportation planning because of the ability to help people directly by improving transportation systems and with an emphasis on public transit. She is especially compelled to the equity components of urban planning and civil engineering, with a firm belief that equity should be at the forefront of these fields. “Humane transportation leads to people actually seeing each other and gaining more empathy, as compared to when people are stuck, alone, in their private vehicles. It also involves more direct solutions like bringing poorer people to jobs and saving the planet. I truly feel like fixing transportation is huge when it comes to all the aspects of fixing society as a whole, and there are ways to directly implement transportation solutions today,” Kendall reflected.



Kendall has interned with several organizations that have encouraged and enabled her to experience a wide variety of specializations. In high school, she studied water samples at the US Geological Survey. During a summer while an undergrad at UCLA she worked with the Local Government Commission in Sacramento on the City’s Climate Action Plan. Also during her time at UCLA, Kendall worked closely with the San Mateo County Transportation District in Bus Operations Planning, and interned with BKF Engineers under their Land Development team.


Kendall was a key contributor to and leader in both UCLA’s Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) chapters. She also served as the Mentorship Chair with UCLA’s California Geotechnical Engineering Association (CalGeo) network.


Through her coursework, Kendall realized an interest in the intersection of urban planning and public health. Inspired by her desire to craft solutions to large, societal problems, and she is considering eventually pursuing a dual Master’s degree in Urban Planning and Public Health. In the short term, Kendall is contemplating taking a gap-year to pursue some of her passions, including writing a book about cities going car-free, painting, and fighting for social justice. With her multitude of experiences, skills, and interests, she will be spending time exploring where the next step in her path will be, whether that is in LA or elsewhere. Regardless of her timeline, Kendall is certain that working towards transportation equity lies in her future.


About the Author:

Dan Lamere is a second-year Master of Urban Planning student at the USC Price School of Public Policy. He works as a staff writer and project coordinator for the METRANS student team.