The team at Asphalt Testing Solutions & Engineering (ATS) offers tours of its lab (and Duval Asphalt’s plant) quite often to Jacksonville area engineers, students and other industry professionals. But earlier in September, the team received a request for a virtual asphalt plant and lab tour. This request came from the NC Triangle Chapter of Women in Transportation (WTS) in North Carolina!
Megha Rao of Three Oaks Engineering in North Carolina is a member of the NC Triangle Chapter of WTS. She and with Sadhana Chukkala co-chair Transportation YOU which is part of an on-going initiative of WTS to spark girls’ interest in a wide variety of transportation careers, especially those tied to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Rao contacted ATS and asked if the team would provide a virtual tour as one of the quarterly programs they offer the girls.
ATS was happy to set up a virtual tour! Molly Berry, Marketing & Business Development for ATS thought this was a great event to reach the younger generation and educate them about the asphalt industry. “Workforce development is a huge initiative for us, so we appreciate every opportunity to teach our future professionals about the asphalt industry and the rewarding careers that are available.”
ATS is a proud supporter of Women of Asphalt, so this tour was a great way for ATS to inspire young women interested in the industry. Tanya Nash, ATS Pavement Materials Engineer commented, “I think it’s very impactful for the young women to engage with us through this tour. Historically men fill most of the positions in our industry, but I have a successful career in the asphalt industry; why wouldn’t I let other women know they can too?”
Rao and Chukkala scheduled the Zoom event and shared it with their Transportation YOU group. On Wednesday, September 29th, Berry started the tour by explaining how an asphalt plant works. She narrated a video with drone footage showcasing the different components of Duval Asphalt’s plant, explaining to the group how hot mix asphalt is made.
Following the virtual plant tour, two guests joined the Zoom call to address the group. Michelle Kirk of the Asphalt Pavement Alliance explained the Women of Asphalt initiative to the attendees, and Natasha Ozybko of Moxy introduced Moxy, The Voice of Women in Infrastructure. Hearing about the support system for women in these industries was extremely impactful to the girls on the tour. Similar to the asphalt industry, many careers in the STEM fields have been held by men, so it’s valuable for young women to know there are others like them working in these fields.
After the guest speakers, the attendees followed Berry outside to see the magnitude of the Duval Asphalt plant as she walked to the ATS testing lab. Nash met the group here and toured them through the Quality Control lab, Asphalt Binder lab, Mix Design lab and Performance Testing lab. She explained how and why the asphalt is tested once it leaves the plant.
Hosting a virtual tour proved to be very successful for all involved. The hybrid format of recorded video along with real-time footage allowed Berry and Nash to control some of the elements while presenting to the group. To schedule a tour complete the form on the ATS website.