Business Center

Bridging the Gap: Concluding Analysis from a CDOT Intern

Joanie Lyons

By Joanie Lyons, Engineering Applications Intern
Posted: Sept. 20, 2017

As a Colorado native who has lived in Louisiana for the past four years, I recognize the critical role transportation plays in our daily lives, and the importance of providing the public with sufficient roads and infrastructure. Whether we walk, ride our bikes, use a car, or take the train or the bus, every day, we move from one place to the next. Without adequate roads, bike paths, and sidewalks, the things we do every day seem to get difficult.

With all this in mind, I found my calling—to assist the public with dilemmas regarding safety and infrastructure—while attending Louisiana State University. Little did I know this was only just the beginning. After earning my undergraduate degree and pursuing my master's in urban development and management, I longed to bridge the gap between my skill set and my future endeavors in transportation. CDOT helped me do just that.

As an undergraduate student, I had worked with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LADOTD). CDOT allowed me to recognize the various moving parts of a state DOT and allowed me to apply real-world perspective to my graduate degree. The knowledge I have gained has reignited my passion to truly make a difference in transportation.

Engineering Applications

I was initially hired as an intern in the Division of Project Support's engineering applications unit, which focuses on technology training and support, and implementing new technology at project sites and throughout CDOT. While there, our team worked with the project and regional engineers, and consultants to identify new technologies, hardware, and software for the construction and transportation industries through the launch of a pilot program called eConstruction.

eConstruction was the largest initiative I participated in at CDOT; I organized demonstrations for software we planned to pilot, identified software vendors with products similar to ours and visited multiple project sites statewide to meet with users. This allowed me to learn what was and wasn't working in the field, and demonstrate how to use the software. I also helped lead weekly calls for users to ask questions or raise issues, analyzed data to determine the effectiveness of implementing various software in the field, and helped market the project—eventually leading to it being named a finalist for the Colorado Technology Association's Annual APEX Award for the Project of the Year.

I also worked with the team to research and provide demonstrations of software to integrate with CDOT's existing systems to create digital forms for engineers to enter data for reports while in the field. I thoroughly documented each demonstration to help CDOT select the right software.

I also helped produce graphics and videos—including an eConstruction Federal Highway Administration webinar called Fiscal Year 2017 Profile and Report, and graphics for an ITS World Congress presentation at the 2017 Congress in Montreal. I also created video scripts to help the team receive grant funding from CDOT's executive management team, as well as a year-in-review video of the team.

The Situational Awareness

places all information about a roadway incident into a real-time web application that allows incident commanders, business managers, and others to monitor and manage daily events. I researched current programs as well as other successful solutions other state DOTs have used and met with stakeholders across CDOT to implement situational awareness programs.

CDOT's all-female engineering applications team inspired an idea in me: How could I make a difference for women within my agency and minorities within CDOT? I decided to write an article, published on CDOT's employee website, about combatting internal workplace biases regarding minorities, focusing on the female demographic as women increasingly fill professional roles in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Office of Process Improvement

CDOT's Office of Process Improvement (OPI) strives to implement tools for continuous improvement and advocates the principles of Lean. As a CDOT employee, I strived to embody OPI's values and goals. I was inspired to keep learning and growing and took on additional projects within engineering applications and the Division of Transit and Rail—which helps plan, develop, operate and integrate a transit and rail system throughout Colorado.

In OPI, I created graphics for presentations by CDOT's network of change managers and helped write an article on the Lean processes applied during the construction of CDOT's soon-to-be-completed new headquarters building.

Division of Transit & Rail

FTA State Management Plan
I helped the DTR grants team compile documents required for its annual Federal Transit Administration (FTA) State Management Plan review process. I introduced the division to a cohesive project management system, Trello, to create an open forum for team members to view project progress to make the FTA review successfully. As my internship came to a close, I created a package for the team to use going forward.

Participation in Employee Engagement Activities
CDOT lived up to my expectations by providing me incredible engagement opportunities—which is in line with its goals of growing and developing its team so everyone loves to come to work. Two of my personal favorite employee engagement opportunities were participating in Bike to Work Day 2017, and becoming a Certified Bicycle Friendly Driver.

  • I'm a firm believer in using multimodal transit, so participating in Bike to Work Day 2017 was a given for me. It was also refreshing to have a state DOT be so supportive of the initiative. Everyone in the CDOT Multimodal Planning branch collaborated with area entities to pull off a successful event. It was so incredible to see so many employees participate across the state.
  • I increased my knowledge on bicycle-pedestrian issues, I signed up for an interactive class through CDOT and the City of Fort Collins about the best and safest ways to share the road. The class increased my knowledge exponentially; I walked away ready to apply the skills I learned at work, in my personal life and when driving state fleet vehicles.

Working in a new and different field than what you are used to is never easy, but the support I received from the people I worked with daily at CDOT made me want to come into work and challenge myself to be the best employee I could possibly be.