(L-R) are Claudia Arnold, AEG Fuels; Patricia Arcuri, 2016 WITI Intern; and Adriana Clark, Southeast SBTRC project director.
Before the summer of 2016, Patricia Arcuri did not expect to pursue a career in transportation, but her experience that summer led her down a path she had not seen before.
“It introduced me to an exciting world I did not know about — the transportation industry,” she said. “The transportation industry is fascinating and provides various opportunities for professional development for women with different skills and abilities.”
That same summer, Ana Cervantes had a similar experience at Criado & Associates Inc., a women-owned small business in Dallas.
“Criado allowed me to expand my knowledge in engineering contractual procedures and guidelines; CAD software; planning and design of transportation facilities; and traffic flow relations in traffic streams,” she said.
The experiences Arcuri and Cervantes had in 2016 are due to their participation in the Women and Girls in Transportation Initiative (WITI), a U.S. Department of Transportation initiative that provides internships, mentoring opportunities and entrepreneurial training for young female students and small business owners.
Since WITI's inception, USDOT has developed relationships with 118 colleges and universities. WITI has successfully assisted more than 300 young women from across the country through internships and mentoring opportunities in transportation industry businesses. USDOT's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization's (OSDBU) 13 Small Business Transportation Resource Centers (SBTRC) administer the program.
Thanks to the WITI partnerships and the direct assistance and support they received, Cervantes and Arcuri's experiences, just like the experiences of hundreds of other women, led them to places they might never have imagined.
During her internship, Cervantes was introduced to and awarded a $2,000 scholarship that enabled her to continue learning about and pursuing a career in transportation and water engineering.
“I have met wonderful people, have gained an insight of what my future might hold, and this internship has re-assured me that a career in engineering is what I want to pursue,” she said. “The experience obtained at Criado has been unforgettable and absolutely rewarding in every way.”
After Arcuri's internship, she was offered a full-time position with the company for which she interned — AEG Fuels.
“I am very grateful to the USDOT, OSDBU's Southeast Region SBTRC for the opportunity I was given to participate in the WITI,” she said. “I would encourage every woman to consider the transportation industry as the door to a challenging and exciting new world of endless opportunities for both professional and personal development.”
During National Women's History Month USDOT salutes and appreciates all of the important contributions women have made to transportation — and we look forward to the impact WITI participants and all young women are sure to make in the years ahead.