The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization’s (OSDBU) Women In Transportation Initiative (WITI) strives to inspire women to participate in transportation related careers. Our Southeast Region Small Business Transportation Resource Center (SBTRC) was excited to organize a WITI forum in celebration of the Institute of Transportation Engineers at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez (ITE-UPRM) annual transportation week.
Andrea del Mar Aponte was the first student to be involved with the WITI program in Puerto Rico and was placed as an intern with the Public-Private Partnership Authority (abbreviated in Spanish AAPP). She says during the internship she was incorporated into the AAPP’s daily tasks immediately. Being a Business-Finance major, del Mar Aponte explained her motivation to learn the process of evaluating and performing Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) in Puerto Rico; stating the internship experience prepared her for working with professionals within the country. Following the internship, she collaborated with the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piédras professors on vital research projects and intends to continue working within the transportation industry in Puerto Rico and the United States.
Women In Transportation Forum participants and WITI staff after a panel discussion
WITI is a program implemented by the USDOT OSDBU to address the need and demand of women in transportation related fields and to ensure policies and programs offer opportunities to meet the needs of women and girls within the transportation industry. The program also features transportation related internships for qualified young women coordinated by our 13 SBTRCs.
Carlos Villanueva, Administrator for Community Relations and Outreach office, of the Southeast Region SBTRC is in charge of promoting WITI’s mission to increase the participation of women in the transportation industry and prepare young women to become our nation's future leaders. Villanueva says, “The main idea is doing something different and providing opportunities for students to learn about the very own experiences of successful women in the transportation industry and how they reached such positions. We want female students to understand that these professional women were once identical to them, they were sitting in the same place and experienced the same fears and doubts.”
The Southeast Region SBTRC is one of 13 regional field offices of the USDOT OSDBU. The SBTRC provides services to small businesses in the transportation industry in the states of Alabama, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Southeast Region SBTRC is operated by Miami-Dade College through a Cooperative Agreement with the USDOT OSDBU. For more information please visit their website here.