HNTB launches second year of SPARK LA program at Girls Academic Leadership Academy

STEM-focused curriculum engages girls in engineering and leadership experiences relevant to Los Angeles infrastructure

LOS ANGELES (MARCH 12, 2018) – The successful SPARK LA partnership between HNTB Corporation and Los Angeles Board of Public Works is underway in its second year at Los Angeles Unified School District’s all-girls school – the Girls Academic Leadership Academy. SPARK LA helps support the school’s STEM curriculum – science, technology, engineering and math – which aims to attract more female students to pursue degrees and professions where females traditionally are underrepresented.

SPARK LA students participate in the free after-school program that includes bridge and airport design, water engineering, and rail planning. HNTB, in collaboration with the Board of Public Works, developed eight interactive sessions related to infrastructure. The weekly sessions bring experts in various infrastructure fields into the classroom for discussion and hands-on projects. Participants will create an end-of-year project incorporating their experiences and present their work at the Los Angeles City Hall, Board of Public Works.

“It’s an honor to continue HNTB’s role in the education of young girls by sharing a passion for engineering, architecture and planning with meaningful, hands-on experiences at GALA,” said Laura Mohr, PE, HNTB vice president, rail/transit group director and SPARK LA program leader. “By engaging and inspiring students with opportunities that challenge them to think critically and build leadership skills, we are empowering girls to become the next generation of STEM leaders.” 

The initial session involved a Los Angeles rail planning project. The team picked a route, calculated total construction costs, per mile costs, travel time and determined if there should be a new station at the GALA campus. Subsequent sessions feature bridge design and popsicle stick bridges; water engineering; cost and schedule; aviation and flight simulation; and airport and terminal design.

Since the school opened in August 2016, GALA’s extensive community and educational partnerships ensure students have access to the latest information in STEM fields, leadership training, and post-secondary preparation. The school welcomes all girls within the LAUSD who are committed to a highly rigorous, college preparatory curriculum focused on science, technology, engineering and math. By the 2019-20 school year, GALA plans to offer education for girls in grades 6-12.

Across the country, HNTB engages in various programs and activities to create awareness with young people to inform them about careers in engineering, architecture and planning. In addition, many HNTB offices work with local organizations and schools to provide job shadowing opportunities for high school students so they may become familiar with potential careers in these fields. HNTB also supports employees who attend career day events at their local schools to present information on careers in engineering and transportation to elementary and middle school age students.

About HNTB
HNTB Corporation is an employee-owned infrastructure solutions firm serving public and private owners and contractors. HNTB’s work in California dates back to its founding in 1914. Today, HNTB continues to grow in size and service offerings to clients in California from seven office locations, currently employing more than 350 full-time professionals. With more than a century of service, HNTB understands the life cycle of infrastructure and addresses clients’ most complex technical, financial and operational challenges. Professionals nationwide deliver a full range of infrastructure-related services, including award-winning planning, design, program management and construction management. For more information, visit

Photo: Laura Mohr, PE, HNTB vice president, rail/transit group director and SPARK LA program leader.

Brian Cox
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