Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) and International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) president 2022 sat down with ITS International and talked to them about how important it is to mentor young people in the transportation industry.
The Commissioner has had a very successful career in transportation with over 32 years in the industry and 40 years in government service. She believes encouraging young people in the transportation industry is critical.
“Transportation is foundational to almost everything we do: transportation is what gets us to the doctor, it is what fuels our economies, it is what makes us a global society,” said Scaccetti. “For us it's critical that we enthuse young people, encourage young people, coach young people and really show them what fun and what vision they could have in transportation.”
The NJDOT Commissioner encourages young interns at NJDOT to see patterns and connections between technology and the work NJDOT does.
“We fly drones here. We use them for different purposes,” Scaccetti says. “We want to understand your vision and we want to understand how we build the transportation system that will really serve you, which is a far different group than the group we were serving when we built the Interstate. So we really want to engage them, encourage them, give them a voice. And I think if we do that, then we will grow up a pool of young people that will be ready to take on the reins of almost any role in transportation, hopefully in the not-too-distant future.”
When speaking of the interns, she boasts, “they are much less fearful of technology, they're open to it. They understand the ‘good power’ of technology and, honestly, that is such a big part of our future that we need those bright minds that have broad vision to say, ‘Hey, here's the simple way to fix this problem, DOT, or turnpike, or toll bridge – we can do these things much more simply because we can develop an app or we can tweak the technology to better serve our customers, whatever it may be.’ And they're just less apprehensive of adopting new things. And it's important for me to continue to encourage that: the best part of my job is when I can be around young people and listen to them and get their point of view.”
The young Professionals Council of IBTTA is just as supportive, bringing together professionals in tolling and transportation with the young people that will continue to grow their career in transportation.
“IBTTA is a good forum for those kinds of discussions, for that openness,” Scaccetti says. “I often challenge our executives to always make sure they bring a new young person, whether it's IBTTA or other organisations I represent or speak at, because until we bring them in and let them see all the fantastic things that come with transportation – the economic development, the local aid, the technology, the way we benefit communities – they don't really get it.”
To read the full interview, click here.
Source: ITS International