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Los Angeles-area students inspired to dream big at DIY Girls, Metro event

DIY Girls and Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority teamed up with CH2M for an evening encouraging students’ interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. (Photo courtesy of Aurelia Ventura, Metro)

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and DIY Girls, a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging girls’ interest and success in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), rolled out the red-carpet treatment for more than 100 elementary to high school-aged students on Nov. 28 for a screening of the film, Dream Big.

After an entrance fit for stars – complete with a red carpet and a mixer with light refreshments – DIY Girls Executive Director Leticia Rodriguez and Metro Deputy CEO Stephanie Wiggins welcomed the students to Metro Headquarters for the screening of the 45-minute film, which celebrates the human ingenuity behind infrastructure marvels big and small, and shows how engineers push the limits of innovation in unexpected and amazing ways.

“At Metro, we are empowering women and girls to pursue career opportunities in transportation. There are more than 250 STEM positions at Metro, and tonight, we hope to inspire these women and girls to pursue careers in STEM,” said Wiggins.

After the film concluded, Metro Chief Planning Officer Therese McMillan and Senior Executive Officer for Program Management and Regional Rail Jeanet Owens, along with City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works Commissioner and DIY Girls founder Luz Rivas and CH2M Los Angeles Area Lead Judy Johnson shared personal stories in a panel discussion.

Each of the panelists shared their stories about how they chose the industry and how they are making a difference in the public and private realms to help make Los Angeles the infrastructure capital of the world as the City prepares for the 2028 Olympics. 

Added McMillan, “These girls are our future and we need to give them all the tools they need to dream big.”

Executive Director for DIY Girls Leticia Rodriguez stated, “An event like this is impactful on our students. DIY Girls is excited and thankful to partner with Metro and CH2M to make this event a reality. It was an outstanding opportunity to get our girls exposure to women leaders in engineering!”

Johnson echoed, “It is a privilege to support DIY Girls and Metro in their mission to educate students on the value of pursuing a STEM career and dreaming big. It is exciting to think that future engineering visionaries are being inspired by this evening’s event!”

Panel Moderator Monica Morales added, “It’s events like those that really make your heart swell. It’s a very special event when you are able to get girls excited about STEM and a unique one when you can rope in a red carpet, a perfect movie highlighting how awesome engineering really is, a beautiful venue, amazing women professionals in STEM and to top it off, Metro notebooks that the DIY girls used to get autographs from the panelists.”

About Dream Big
Narrated by Academy Award® winner Jeff Bridges, Dream Big is the story which offers a fresh perspective on engineering and aims to inspire kids of diverse backgrounds to become the next generation innovators, educators and leaders to improve our communities worldwide. Dream Big marks the first film for IMAX® and giant-screen theaters to answer the call of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) initiative and has been awarded by the Oscars equivalent for IMAX films. One of the film’s stars is Dr. Menzer Pehlivan, CH2M geotechnical engineer.

About DIY Girls
DIY Girls is a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging girls’ interest and success in STEM. DIY Girls develops and implements educational programs and events designed to encourage engagement with technology, promote self-confidence and support aspirations for technical careers. DIY Girls is a supportive community for girls driven by an interest in creating and building with technology. Through hands-on STEM and making activities, girls learn technical skills and apply them by creating their own creative projects and inventions. The organization has served 2,000 girls since 2012.

About Metro
In addition to serving as LA County’s transportation agency and delivering a capital program through Measures R and M, Metro is investing heavily in workforce development and in particular, attracting female students to the engineering and construction industry. In a public-private partnership, Metro has launched Workforce Initiative Now-Los Angeles (WIN-LA), Metro’s new workforce development program created to focus on careers in the transportation industry. WIN-LA is a groundbreaking initiative that will create career pathways in construction, non-construction opportunities in operations/maintenance, administration and professional services within Metro and throughout the transportation industry. The program will provide support for participants in areas such as life skills development; skill set enhancement and educational attainment services. WIN-LA will also increase the resources needed for training and placement of “Hard to Fill” positions in our transportation industry.

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