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Volpe Hosts Local High School Students for Day of Mentoring and Human Factors Demonstrations

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

In early December, Volpe hosted 21 engineering high school students from Newton Country Day, an all-girls college preparatory school.

During their visit, students were divided into two groups and alternated between a speed-mentoring session and a tour of the simulators. Each student had a hands-on opportunity to try at least one of Volpe’s three simulators, including test driving a car, operating a train, or flying an airplane. The simulators are used for human factors experiments in which researchers study how participants handle various new or dangerous scenarios—such as what drivers do when their brakes stop working.

A Volpe staff member demonstrates to a student how eye tracker technology works.
A Volpe staff member demonstrates to a student how eye tracker technology works. (Volpe photo)

Speed Mentoring

Fifteen volunteers from WTS, an international organization that promotes the advancement of women in transportation, and Volpe staff spoke to the students about the variety of careers available in transportation and the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Luisa Paiewonsky, director of Volpe’s Center for Infrastructure Systems and Technology, offered the students advice on the many technical and non-technical skills they will use throughout their collegiate and professional careers.

“Wherever your career takes you, it’s important that you develop strong communications skills, learn to adapt and be flexible about changes, and work effectively in teams,” Paiewonsky said. “These are professional and life skills that will help you whether you work in a STEM- or non-STEM-related profession.”

She described the breadth and depth of projects managed at Volpe, which include all modes and various topic areas, such as the environmental impacts of transportation, human factors and safety concerns, and the effects of climate change on infrastructure.

Volpe’s Commitment

Volpe partnered with the Outreach Committee of WTS-Boston to host the Newton Country Day students. WTS strives to close the workforce gap in the global transportation industry by promoting lifelong careers in transportation for women.

This event with students from Newton Country Day was part of Volpe’s continuing STEM outreach in Cambridge, Boston, and other local communities.​

High school students visit Volpe's Boeing 747 simulator for a hands-on lesson in transportation human factors. (Volpe photo)
image of Volpe staff member and high school student testing out one of Volpe's simulators.
A student from Newton Country Day takes flight in Volpe's airplane simulator. (Volpe photo)