Ava Li is passionate about traffic engineering, giving back to the community, and sharing snacks.
Becoming an engineer
Ava has worked at Binnie since July 2016. As an engineer, she works on traffic control plans and management plans that go along with them. These plans help to ensure all traffic modes are safely re-routed or detoured during construction periods. On a typical day, she carries out traffic impact studies for developers to evaluate and analyze the potential effects a development will have on the surrounding road networks.
In university, Ava chose engineering because she saw it as a challenge. She had aimed to one day become an architect, but as her passion grew, she decided to continue with civil engineering. Originally, her focus was on hydrology (the study of the movement of water), until she was referred to Binnie by a friend. This fresh start led her into traffic engineering, and she’s been happily at it ever since.
The most enjoyable aspect of Ava’s job is traffic modelling. This involves setting parameters and estimating how traffic will react to different scenarios. She determines traffic volumes, origin-destination pairs (number of vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists they are measuring from point A to point B, C, or D). She calculates the percentage of trucks on a roadway and other necessary information to figure out how to best plan for developments and keep traffic under control.
As a traffic engineer, Ava sees the roads differently when she drives. Not only does she notice different patterns and scenarios, but she’s more observant as to why things are the way they are. These days she is cognizant of the various signal timings, and can better anticipate driving patterns of other people on the road. She can decipher the most efficient routes based on the time of day and where she is travelling. For example, in the morning heading across Metro Vancouver for work, she takes the Queensborough Bridge instead of the Knight Street Bridge because there are fewer lights and less construction. In contrast, during PM hours she takes Knight Street since Queensborough backs up with commuters heading home.
A place on the Binnie team
As a member of Binnie’s Traffic Services Division, Ava looks to Manager Jonathan Ho for leadership and support. She sees how he facilitates her growth and cares about the team’s well-being. This hands-off, yet encouraging, approach is one reason Ava finds her job so enjoyable. Overall, Ava feels that the Traffic Services Division is made up of people who are supportive, patient, knowledgeable, and funny.
Binnie has been known to host an eclectic mix of hard-working employees. Ava appreciates being able to talk to people about her life outside of work. She likes that she can have professional relationships in tandem with real friendships that exist beyond the office.
Ava serves as the Chair of Binnie’s Young Professionals Committee where she is responsible for organizing social events and volunteer activities. Past events include trivia night, board games night, and archery tag. In January, the Young Professionals (YPs) gave back to the community by volunteering their time with Covenant House, thanks to Ava’s initiative. They helped organize clothing and gifts, all of which went toward the youth that Covenant House serves.
Ava is involved with the YPs because she sees that they are a growing force in the company. Last year, she saw an opportunity to be a resource as people continue to develop their careers here at Binnie. She understands that workplaces can be intimidating to new and young workers, and wants to be a resource for people interested in learning more about Binnie culture. YPs are always welcome to make suggestions about social activities, volunteer initiatives, or career development events the group might be interested in. This year, the YPs are aiming to get more participation from young workers across the entire company, from Burnaby to Kamloops, to Prince George. Ava is working on increasing staff participation at industry events and encouraging professional development amongst her peers.
Top employer for young people
Binnie has consistently won an award as a Top Employer for Young People. For Ava, this achievement means that Binnie is a good place for people who are beginning their careers, or who may not be entirely sure which direction to pursue. She sees it as a place where people can come to work and turn to others in the company for support and guidance. Her manager, Ava says, “wants the team to grow as individuals and develop their careers. He understands that when people are bored, it means that they are uninterested or uninspired, and he tries not to let that happen.” To Ava, winning this award means Binnie is truly doing something right.
For those who are considering a career in civil engineering, Ava believes that although the path can be frustrating and tiresome, it is well worth it. She talks about how you get to see projects come to life and be proud of what you have done. Each day she is grateful to get to work alongside professionals who make important decisions. The pressure is worth it.
Life outside the office
When not analyzing traffic patterns, Ava is a dedicated Sunday School teacher. Each week she teaches three-year-old kids stories and lessons about being kind. She finds it is rewarding to watch the children grow and learn lessons about how to treat other people. This experience has taught Ava about patience and embracing new methods of trying things when plans don’t go as expected. In her spare time, you can find Ava playing volleyball, doing Pilates, or heading out for some frozen yogurt on the pier.
“Whatever lies ahead, people in my life are there to support me through tough times.”
“Don’t think too much, just go with the flow.”
Taken (but only the first one). Liam Neeson’s character inspires Ava to work smart. She admires that he is brave, courageous, and confident. He maintains composure under stressful situations, even if he hasn’t faced them before.