Cadets creating more road space

The Department of Transport is delivering the $340 million Creating More Road Space program to make it easier for people and freight to get around on our roads.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) has dramatically altered the way Melburnians move around the city with more people now expected to use cars to travel. 

To keep Melburnians moving during this time, DoT is ramping up direct traffic interventions by tasking more response crews and traffic engineers with tackling congestion hotspots, incidents and blockages on the network.

Tayla Donegan and Azadeh Emami joined DoT as cadet signal engineers in November 2020 and are the only women recruits in a group of 14.

Both became interested in transport during their engineering studies, and are now passionate about optimising the road network to make travel simpler and safer for Victorians.  

Azadeh recently received the Young Professional Award at the ITS National Australia Awards, recognising the passion and positive contribution she has made and is likely to make to the Australian transport technology industry.

Get to know our cadet signal engineers below.

Tayla Donegan

Tayla Donegan

What has your study/work journey been to this point?

I graduated from Monash University in 2019 with a double degree in electrical and computer systems engineering, and commerce. During my studies I worked as an undergraduate project engineer at Transurban and developed a keen interest in the transport industry. Prior to joining the Department of Transport, I was working as a business algorithms analyst at Deloitte.

Why did you join the program? What was your interest?

I was keen to work in the transport industry again and was particularly interested in the opportunity to develop technical skills that would allow me to help make travel simpler and safer for Victorians.  

What are your impressions of the program so far?

The network optimisation engineer cadetship has been excellent so far. All the cadets have been learning constantly through a dedicated training program and additional on-the-job training, which has been fantastic.

What are you working on in the program?

Given the traffic signals space is a specialist technical area, we have really been focusing on developing a strong technical foundation so that in the future we can help deliver solutions to help Victorians move efficiently and safely. Up until this point, the work I have been doing has been focused on the design of traffic signals on arterial roads.

What do you want to do after your cadetship?

After my cadetship, I would like to stay within signal services and really apply the new skills I have developed to make tangible impacts. I am particularly interested in optimising the road network by integrating different technologies, so I am keen to get involved in some of the exciting signal innovation projects and trials.    

As one of two women among 14 cadets, what’s your advice to any woman thinking of working in this area?

I strongly encourage any woman interested in joining the transport industry or studying engineering in general to pursue it. There are plenty of exciting things happening and new technologies emerging within the industry. As a result, there are challenging new problems arising that really do require diverse thinking to solve. 

Azadeh Emami

Cadet Azadah Emami

What has your study/work journey been to this point?

I studied my PhD at the University of Melbourne in transport engineering. I was also involved in the Australian Integrated Multimodal EcoSystem (AIMES) as part of my PhD project. I have an electrical engineering background and graduated with my master degree in 2016.

Why did you join the program? What was your interest?

I studied transport engineering for my PhD and became interested in transport engineering during this time so I decided to choose a career in transport. I believe DoT is the best place to work for transport engineers, which is why I chose to work here. I really like the training program they are providing to new cadets. It refreshes your mind and prepares you for your future tasks.

What are your impressions of the program so far?

I find the program really interesting and interactive. I find the trainers friendly and supportive. They put in so much time and effort to help us learn the concepts.

What are you working on in the program?

We are going to work as network optimisation engineers at the end of the program. At the moment, our team is also working on traffic signal plans.

What do you want to do after your cadetship?

I would really like to be engaged in the design of traffic signals. I would also try to learn from my colleagues and always keep my mind fresh.

As one of two women among 14 cadets, what’s your advice to any woman thinking of working in this area?

I think this is a really good place to work for women. The team is supportive and friendly. It has flexible work arrangements, which is good to balance work and life. The department also provides equal opportunity for people from diverse backgrounds, which is great.