April 7, 2020

Beth Kigel,
VP, ITS and Emerging Mobility Solutions, HNTB Corporation

After the ITS World Congress in Singapore last year, the Organizing Committee of the 2020 ITS World Congress launched the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) to discover the “new age” of the transportation workforce.

Using competition and outreach, the ELP engages students and develops young professionals globally to go deeper into intelligent transportation fields, explore mobility solutions and consider the career possibilities.

It’s exceeding expectations.

Dozens of universities across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific are participating in the program’s Global Challenge. Each has fielded a team of three to five students for the competition, which involves proposing a solution to a mobility challenge in their local region. After paper submissions, presentations and rigorous scoring by esteemed industry panels, three teams, one from each region, will be invited to the ITS World Congress in Los Angeles Oct. 4-8 for the final competition: proposing a solution to mobility challenges associated with the 2028 Summer Olympics, which Los Angeles is hosting.

The National Immersion program for U.S. high school students also is blossoming. Thirty schools have fielded teams. Their challenge? Engineer and build an autonomous vehicle that can perform specific tasks.

Enrolled teams received a Power Wheels Jeep AV kit from program partner Square One Education Network and $1,000. Teams use the funds to leverage engineering and creativity to customize their vehicles’ performance. Each team will share a video presentation, and three will be selected to join the World Congress in Los Angeles where they will be given an additional challenge to demonstrate their vehicle’s capability.  The students also will experience an immersion in mobility innovations with speakers, panel discussions and hands-on activities.

Additionally, each team is required to develop an outreach plan to connect with a minimum of 100 younger students about intelligent transportation. Thirty-one teams mean contact with at least 3,000 new minds, exposing them to the exciting possibilities of intelligent transportation.

Finally, a Local Awareness program opens the 2020 World Congress to up to 1,000 local Los Angeles high school students and their teachers, providing invaluable exposure to the innovation transforming transportation.

Like our industry, the Emerging Leaders Program is taking off. A sincere “thank you” to the program’s sponsors and to everyone at ITS America, ERTICO and ITS Asia Pacific who made it a reality. The competitions and camaraderie generated are sure to bring new talent, energy and ideas to the transportation revolution!

Beth Kigel is vice president, ITS and emerging mobility solutions, for HNTB Corporation, serves on the board of directors for the ITS World Congress and is chair of the Emerging Leaders Program. HNTB is the lead sponsor of the ELP.