This month we're giving you an insight into what life at ARRB is like.
We will be covering the stories of several ARRB employees in the different Strategic Working Groups. Next up, we have Emma Bourke from our Road Asset Performance team.
What does a day in your life look like?
Let me take you on a road trip... I sometimes start my day by driving to the Brisbane depot to jump into an ARRB vehicle and drive to wherever our job starts (it could be Rockhampton for example). Or I could catch a taxi to the airport and hop on a plane to a destination where the ARRB vehicle is parked to commence a job or continue a project where we are taking over from a previous crew that are due for a well-deserved break. In the mornings we wake up and get ready for work, we'll pack our suitcases as we very rarely stay in the same motel every night. We only stay in the same motel if we have a lot of work in the area or if it's a Saturday because have Sundays off.
We generally start at 7am, however it depends on where you are and if that state has daylight savings. We cannot work if the sun is too low in the mornings/afternoon as it affects the images collected by the cameras. We meet at the vehicle at 7am to pack the vehicle, fuel up the vehicle, get coffee and breakfast. We strive to visit all the local bakeries to find the best pies in Australia!
Once we're fuelled up for our big day ahead, we do the daily calibrations for the vehicle. We find a wide quiet street or an empty carpark to do our daily calibrations which is a bounce test, 180* and 360* and complete our daily checklist. Once this is done, we are ready to collect data for the day.
We collect as much data as we can until the sunlight in the afternoon begins to affect us. We then head to the next town or back to the town that we are currently based from and back up the data we have collected for the day onto a hard drive to send back to the office for the data processing team. This is what a typical day out in the field looks like.
What made you decide to get into field surveying?
I decided to apply for the job as a road surveyor as I have a keen interest in travel and wanted a new challenge. Since starting with ARRB, I have had the opportunity to travel quite extensively throughout Australia, predominantly within QLD, NSW and SA. This has allowed me to see and experience some amazing places within Australia. I was excited to experience a new challenge in a different field and develop more knowledge in an area that I had minimal knowledge of.
What are your favourite and least favourite parts of your job?
My favourite part about this job is that I get to travel and I get to see the amazing sights of Australia whilst doing a job I love. I also get to meet lots of interesting people and experience different cultures and ways of life. Australia is rich in history and it is interesting learning about the towns and how far they have come since being established.
My least favourite part about this job is that I tend to miss out on a lot of life events, such as birthdays, weddings, engagements, family get togethers, births and funerals. However I'm lucky that my family and friends are so understanding and with today's technology, they're only a video call away.
Name a career highlight of yours
A career highlight for me was last year in 2020. I was one of four field staff scheduled to do a job in South Australia for DPTI. I was scheduled to be on the project for two weeks and then have a two week break while the other crew relieved us to keep the project running. Unfortunately, this did not go to plan as COVID was rife at the time. COVID resulted in us not being able to keep to the original plan put in place for the project. Staff members put on this project were not able to fly into SA as the boarders had started closing. We were unsure what our options were as these circumstances were something we had never been through before. I decided to stay in SA to keep the project on track as I was worried that if I flew home, I would not be able to enter SA again and it was a place I really wanted to explore.
I was thrust into a position that had me running the project and training two office staff in Adelaide who had no previous experience driving or operating an ARRB survey vehicle, whilst navigating a state that I had never been to before. This responsibility was something very new to me as I had only been with ARRB for just over a year. I found this a challenge as I was and still am learning all the different problems that arise out on the field, whether it be computer related, equipment related or mechanical. I kept my Project Manager updated on the progress of the job and let them know any problems that arose. This enabled him to keep our client updated about the progress of the project on a regular basis.
I spent a total of 156 days out in the field, and call me crazy, but I would do it all again!
What advice would you give for someone wanting to work in the industry?
If you are wanting to get into the field of road surveying, don't be shy to apply even if you don't have any experience. I had no previous experience with road surveying and I applied for the role as a field road surveyor. It just takes someone to give you the opportunity and to learn and grow in an unfamiliar field. I am certainly grateful that I was given the opportunity to come on board with ARRB to learn new skills and gain knowledge in a field that was very new to me.
Read about the lives of other ARRB staff here: