UTEP Engineering Students Named Transportation Research Board Minority Student Fellows for 2021
Last Updated on October 26, 2020 at 12:00 AM
Originally published October 26, 2020
By Christina Rodriguez
Two engineering undergraduates at The University of Texas at El Paso were selected by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) to be part of the 2021 class of Minority Student Fellows.
The TRB Minority Student Fellows Program funds students from select minority-serving institutions to attend and present their research at the TRB Annual Meeting and help them engage in TRB’s network of transportation professionals.
UTEP civil engineering students Laura Camarena and Helena Mascorro are among 16 undergraduate and nine graduate students from across the nation selected to take part in the program.
“We are very proud that Laura and Helena were selected as TRB Minority Student Fellows for 2021,” said Carlos Ferregut, Ph.D., professor and department chair of civil engineering at UTEP. “The designation is a testimony of the quality of education they are receiving at UTEP and the excellent research training they are getting at UTEP’s Center for Transportation Infrastructure Systems. The experience that they will gain by attending and participating in the 2021 TRB conference will be invaluable and will complement their education. My congratulations to the students and their faculty advisors.”
To ensure that solutions to the nation’s transportation problems address people from a variety of backgrounds, TRB established the Minority Student Fellows Program in 2010 to actively explore research, ideas and solutions from diverse perspectives. This program seeks to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in the transportation field and in TRB activities.
“TRB is very pleased to provide opportunities for students interested in transportation from minority-serving institutions to be able to participate in the premier transportation research conference in the world,” said Neil Pedersen, executive director of TRB. “It gives them an unparalleled opportunity to be exposed to and learn from the top transportation researchers and professionals in the world.”
Camarena is excited for the opportunity as a TRB Minority Student Fellow to meet and interact with industry leaders, broaden her horizons and take on significant challenges. The UTEP senior says directly addressing transportation issues with experienced mentors will be a priceless experience and allow her to grow as a stalwart contributor to the quality of life of a given community.
“Being selected as a TRB Minority Student Fellowship recipient represents an outstanding achievement and satisfaction,” Camarena said. “I hope I do not disappoint to meet the expectations of such an honorable distinction and, above all, send a message to my colleagues that with effort, everything is possible.”
Mascorro is a senior at UTEP expected to graduate in December 2020. She says that being named a TRB Minority Student Fellow signifies a new opportunity and validates the hard work and long hours she spends in the lab conducting research. This achievement further motivates the aspiring engineer to continue pursuing research that is essential to the future of transportation. Mascorro’s future plans include working for the Texas Department of Transportation while pursuing graduate studies.
“This recognition marks the beginning of research experience in my career. In the future I wish to pursue a doctoral degree, and being exposed to this level of investigation is a great learning opportunity of what is to come,” Mascorro said. “The growth I will face at TRB by interacting and networking with professionals will not only motivate me to continue excelling in this field, but it will also help me be a well-rounded engineer.”
The fellows will participate in TRB’s 2021 Annual Meeting with paper presentations and Young Members Council sessions as well as in the new attendee welcome event, a career panel, and committee meetings.
The Transportation Research Board is a program unit of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine — private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. The National Academies operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Abraham Lincoln.