A Passion for Transportation: ISE Students win WTS-LA Awards

| February 12, 2021

Allison Fischer and Elise Adreon have been honored with Ava Doner Memorial Undergraduate Scholarships.

WTS Scholarship Winners

Allison Fischer (L) and Elise Adreon (R), winners of the 2020 WTS-LA Ava Doner Memorial Undergraduate Scholarships. Images/Allison Fischer and Elise Adreon

The Los Angeles chapter of WTS–the organization that advances women in transportation–has honored two students in USC’s Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering with prestigious Ava Doner Memorial Scholarships.

ISE students Allison Fischer and Elise Adreon have been recently recognized as the only two recipients of the competitive scholarships, which provide financial support to outstanding undergraduate students in a transportation-related degree.

Fischer and Adreon spoke more about the scholarships, their experiences studying industrial and systems engineering and their professional goals:


Allison Fischer
Hometown: La Grange, Illinois
Graduating: May 2022

 

What drew you toward studying Industrial and Systems Engineering?

I have always loved and excelled in mathematics, and ISE gives me the opportunity to apply it to real-world problems. I also like that industrial and systems engineers can truly work in any field—from transportation to healthcare to manufacturing—since many things in our world can be analyzed as a system.

What is it about transportation as a field that sparks your interest?

I love that transportation plays into nearly every area of our lives, as it allows us to work, study, and visit new places. It fascinates me that people use transportation for a variety of reasons, and we can create a system that fits the needs of many different riders. I am also amazed by all the design choices to make, from how to arrange seats on a bus to how many lanes there should be on the freeway.

Are there any projects or experiences that have been especially valuable to you so far during your studies?

Yes! My ISE 105 class got to go on a boat tour of the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach my freshman year. It was so cool to see so many boats, cranes, and shipping containers that bring goods into the country. The coolest part was knowing that many of the port operations we saw rely on systems engineering principles!

What does winning the Ava Doner Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship mean to you?

This award inspires me to follow the footsteps of Ava Doner, who mentored women in transportation throughout her career. This honor helps me pursue a career path where I can make transportation more equitable by ensuring that underrepresented groups are represented in the transportation workplace.

What are you hoping to do after graduation?

I hope to design transportation systems that truly serve its riders and are environmentally sustainable, using systems engineering and data-driven approaches. I also would like to travel the world and study other countries’ transportation systems, since I am most familiar with those in the U.S.


Elise Adreon
Hometown: Evergreen, Colorado
Graduating: May 2021

 

What drew you toward studying Industrial and Systems Engineering?

I knew I excelled in the problem-solving realm and wanted to pursue an education in engineering. ISE caught my interest due to its focus on mathematics and its blend with business subjects. The major was the perfect fit for me.

What is it about transportation as a field that sparks your interest?

As an ISE major, my focus is always on how to improve the efficiency of systems. Transportation is an excellent example of a world that is in constant need of process improvement. Throughout my four years at USC, given that I have learned many ISE topics that can be so easily applied to transportation, the industry has always drawn my interest.

Are there any projects or experiences that have been especially valuable to you so far during your studies?

Last summer, I was granted the position to work as a research assistant for one of my ISE professors, James Moore. Professor Moore’s research specializes in transportation, which gave me an immense amount of exposure to the field. This research provided me with the chance to explore engineering within transportation, specifically related to the Los Angeles public transportation system. Specifically, I researched the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Los Angeles Metro’s “28 by 2028” transportation plan intended to be completed by the start of the 2028 Olympic Games in LA. This project gave me insight into the Southern California transportation model and how specific agencies manage public transit. Through my research, I also published a written article of my findings of Metro’s finances to the urban planning website NewGeography with collaboration from Professor Moore. This research opportunity gave me the chance to enhance my engineering writing skills while also expanding my knowledge on the transportation industry.

What does winning the Ava Doner Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship mean to you?

Winning the WTS Ava Doner Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship confirmed my desire to pursue my education and career as an engineer. While USC does an excellent job in creating a diverse and supportive environment for women in engineering, this scholarship gave me hope in the path that women are taking in the engineering world at large. I am so grateful for organizations like WTS who encourage women to pursue their dreams of working in male-dominated engineering industries and prove that we belong there.

What are you hoping to do after graduation?

After graduation, I will be working for KPMG as an Advisory Associate in their Management Consulting practice. I will be working in the Supply Chain Operations group in the Chicago office beginning in the Fall of 2021.

 

 

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