News | USC's Jessica Brown wins WTS-LA Ava Doner Memorial Scholarship

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by Namitha Nixon, USC, Business of Cinematic Arts 2024

Jessica Brown has been selected to receive the 2021 WTS-LA $8000 Ava Doner Memorial Scholarship. Jessica is an undergraduate at the University of Southern California, where she is pursing a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering with an emphasis in Building Science.


Jessica Brown, Bachelor of Civil Engineering, USC


Jessica’s initial interest in the transportation industry was sparked by her experience as a construction management intern with a general contractor after her freshman year. She worked on what is now called LAX-it, a fast-paced auxiliary curb to siphon out all the rideshare traffic from the central terminal

area (CTA) at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). During the internship, Jessica worked on an

area shutdown report for the CTA so that striping removal and restriping could occur to reorient the inner lanes of bus lanes as they are today.


In September of 2019, Jessica furthered her exploration of the industry by becoming an active member of USC’s Student Chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, an organization of student engineers, planners, and thinkers who aim to reimagine transportation systems. It is through this organization that she discovered her specific interest in multimodal transportation systems which provide people access to jobs, healthcare, recreation, and education. “I appreciate transportation as a means to provide access to essential services and experiences to improve one’s quality of life,” she explains.


Jessica has an impressive array of professional experiences within the transportation industry including working on projects across the LA area as a project engineer and scheduling intern with one of California’s largest general contractors, Swinerton. She has also developed alternative roadway designs and explored the work of Intelligent Transportation Systems through her role as a Civil Engineering intern at Kimley-Horn, a premier planning and design consultancy firm located in Los Angeles, California.


Upon graduation, Jessica will be working as a Transportation Engineer at the global design and engineering firm Arup with the company’s San Francisco Integrated Planning Team. Jessica served as an intern with Arup this past summer, developing useful technical skills on various projects for both public and private sector clients. She is looking forward to formally joining Arup at the onset of the Link21 project, a transbay rail crossing providing new rail service between Oakland and San Francisco California.


Jessica has also received several other impressive awards this year.  She received the 2021 Parsons Brinckerhoff/Jim Lammie scholarship from the American Public Transportation Foundation (the philanthropy arm of the American Public Transportation Association, APTA) and the 2021 National Scholarship from the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) sponsored by AECOM.


Jessica encourages anyone who is interested in the transportation field to begin by simply exploring the industry. “Simply by attending events like speaker series, technical tours, workshops and networking events held by ITE, WTS, METRANS, PSR, and other professional organizations I have been able to learn so much about the industry and can see my place in it.”


Outside of her professional interests, Jessica enjoys listening to podcasts related to transportation, politics,  racial identity, and more. On campus, Jessica serves as the President of the USC Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority which is known to be the first intercollegiate historically African American sorority. Jessica is also the Region VI Vice Chair of the National Society of Black Engineers, an organization founded in 1975 that supports and promotes the aspirations of collegiate and pre-collegiate students and technical professionals in engineering and technology.


About the Author

Namitha Nixon is an undergraduate sophomore at the University of Southern California studying the Business of Cinematic Arts and a student writer for the METRANS newsletter. Outside of classes, she serves as the VP of Career Development for the Marshall Entertainment Association and the VP of Administration for the Marshall Women’s Leadership Board.