After spending several years at University studying, entering into an office environment as a Summer Intern to work alongside a team of experienced professionals could be viewed as both daunting and exciting. Taylor Binnie reflects on her first couple of weeks at Abley.
After completing my third year of study towards a BE Civil (Hons), I recently joined Abley as a Summer Intern, in the Safe System (Strategic Road Safety) team. Throughout my undergraduate university courses, transportation engineering sparked my interest, as it focuses on the interconnectedness of people and their environment.
On arrival at the Christchurch office, I was welcomed by many friendly faces and assigned a buddy to ease into the first few weeks. Since then, I have had weekly 1-2-1 café catchups with my buddy and team manager, which has helped to make me feel comfortable and ensured my transition into the workplace is running smoothly.
I have been attending weekly Safe System team meetings, allowing me to familiarise myself with the current projects that my team is involved in. My calendar also includes upcoming introduction presentations by all of the teams here at Abley, to gain a broader understanding of the other potential facets of transportation engineering that I could be involved in, once graduated.
Two weeks into my internship, I have been surprised by the overwhelming company culture, through whole-company activities such as Wednesday Baking Day. This involves employees throughout Aotearoa getting together to hear about project achievements and enjoying baking provided by employees. Abley also has Lunch and Learn events every week, to provide an opportunity to get to know new members of the company. In addition, the social committee organises a wide range of regular team-building activities, including frisbee golf, and a cheese bar night, organised since I have been here. The Christmas party last Saturday involved meeting at a bar, followed by an amazing share-plates meal at a locally renowned restaurant. I have enjoyed attending our End of Month lunch with others from the office, at a local restaurant. These activities have provided space to meet other Abley team members, who aren’t in my team.
So far within the Safe System team, I have been involved in gathering rural roundabout design identification data and associated crash data, as part of a project to analyse how roundabout design and resultant injuries/fatalities are related. This project is ultimately investigating how new major intersection developments can be proactively designed for safety, rather than reactively designed. Looking at the research into roundabout performance, I have been surprised by how many of New Zealand’s rural roundabouts, do not conform to the ideal for safe roundabout design.
I have also been assisting in the initial stages of the creation of a “Safety Footprint” model, that views an individual’s workplace-route road safety footprint through; an individual’s own crash risk due to the travel done by various modes, and the crash risk that an individual puts on others during their travel.
Working at Abley and observing conflicting online public opinion on road safety strategies such as Road To Zero, has highlighted the need to bridge the psychological gap between what people find convenient on their journeys, and what is for the best interest for all road users’ safety. I am inspired by how passionate my team members are about diminishing New Zealand’s road fatality statistics.
My first two weeks settling into the Abley office have been exciting, and I look forward to the next three months of learning from professionals and pushing myself in this new environment.