Management & Operations

DART, U. of Texas celebrate Leadership Academy's first year

Posted on August 15, 2018

From left, Gary Thomas, DART president/executive director, Ashley Purgason, UTA associate vice provost in the Division of Student Success, and Rose Youngblood, assistant vice president for Institutional Advancement, attended the UTA-DART Transportation Academy's inaugural reception.
From left, Gary Thomas, DART president/executive director, Ashley Purgason, UTA associate vice provost in the Division of Student Success, and Rose Youngblood, assistant vice president for Institutional Advancement, attended the UTA-DART Transportation Academy's inaugural reception.

The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA)/Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Transportation Leadership Academy commemorated the program's successful inaugural year with a celebration at the Dallas Tower Club.

The academy targets undergraduate students from UTA's College of Business; College of Engineering; and College of Architecture, Planning, and Public Affairs, all of which offer programs ranked by U.S. News & World Report. It provides real-world learning opportunities and ensures graduates are career-ready.

"DART's partnership with UTA continues to be instrumental in developing today's students into tomorrow's leaders in the transportation industry," said Gary Thomas, DART’s president/executive director. "We welcome the opportunity to guide this next generation of engineers and planners to build lasting relationships that will prepare them for limitless opportunities and bright futures."

The UTA/DART Transportation Leadership Academy aligns with the university's aggressive “Strategic Plan 2020 Bold Solutions | Global Impact,” which focuses on fostering sustainable urban communities around the world while guiding the emergence of the Dallas/Fort Worth region as a megacity.

Additionally, this partnership with DART is among the many steps that UTA is taking to ensure greater alignment and synergy between the University and the community it serves.

Lolin Martins-Crane, director of the Lockheed Martin Career Development Center at UTA, said she appreciated the hands-on experiences the students received.

"The students were given the ability to understand and experience various leadership styles, gain invaluable insights on strategic thinking, and learned about the challenges and rewards of leading and evolving such a successful organization. This hands-on opportunity gave the students a once-in-a-lifetime chance to engage and learn directly from DART executive leaders in group and one-on-one sessions" Martins-Crane said. "In addition, during these sessions the students were exposed to all the functional areas within DART that consistently work together to ensure DART success. This exposure and understanding will be invaluable when these students migrate to the workforce."

In addition to emphasizing key themes, the academy addresses a guiding aspiration of UTA's strategic plan: to provide a meaningful internship to each student prior to graduation. Officials are adding a paid summer DART internship to the academy's plan in its second year.

Martins-Crane said these internships will advance the academy to the next level.

"The internships will be a complete immersion into the organizational culture and day-to-day operations. It also will help students better understand true work experiences," Martins-Crane said. "It accentuates that hands-on approach to learning. It completes the depth of what we're trying to accomplish with this academy, by developing technical and non-technical workforce skills."

Delia Jasso, DART consultant and originator of the academy, said, "College seniors who are job-ready at the end of their four years will find they are more valuable to industry."

In addition, UTA has partnered with industry or agency leaders, including:

  • The Environmental Protection Agency and UTA partnered to strengthen collaboration aimed at meeting the national need for highly trained and skilled personnel in areas of environmental engineering and science, policy, and research.
  • Students from UTA's College of Architecture, Planning, and Public Affairs have partnered with City of Arlington professionals to create the Urban Design Center, which speeds along design projects, civic space planning, beautification projects and redevelopment opportunities around Arlington.

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