2012 Interns Recap their Week in Baltimore and DC

August 01, 2012

Written as a collaborative effort between: Alex Wong, Amy Lopez, Anais Malinge, Brett Korporaal, Chris Romano, Jennifer Palacios, Jennifer Warner, Jesus Cuellar, Landon Reed, Maya Stuhlbarg, and Ribeka Toda

KAI’s much anticipated, annual Intern Week started off with a blast: a two-run walk-off home run by Baltimore Orioles Catcher Taylor Teagarden in the bottom of the 13th inning – Go O’s! We never looked back. The excitement of the early arrivals’ first day in Charm City set the tone as KAI interns trickled one by one into downtown to spend July 16 to 20 in Baltimore, MD and Washington, DC learning about the past, present, and future of the transportation industry.

Monday, July 16

With Baltimore staff anticipating our arrival, we set out from our hotel to begin the adventures of Intern Week. Shortly after settling into our workstations, we made our rounds to meet everyone. What were intended to be quick “Hellos” from the doorway easily turned into invitations to sit down and chat at length.

Around midday, we convened in the main conference room for “A Day in Accounting” with Larry Van Dyke, CFO; Zulay Loftin; and Melissa Bourquein. The conversation centered on KAI’s business strategy. While the firm has 12 offices dispersed throughout the nation—as well as an office in Brisbane, Australia—KAI works to maintain its “one firm” philosophy by encouraging its staff to stay connected and support multiple offices on a variety of projects.

Tuesday, July 17

Come Tuesday morning, the office was brimming with energy and excitement once again. Given the activities planned for later in the week, the day was blocked off for project-related work. During lunch, we engaged Mark Vandehey, CEO in a conversation about the vision and goals of KAI. Many interns also met with Mark in a one-on-one setting to discuss their experiences during the summer internship program. As the afternoon turned to evening, we worked together to finalize the details for our Project Fair presentations and ended the day enjoying food at a great local restaurant.

Wednesday, July 18

In the early morning hours, we kicked off the Intern Jamboree with a group of interns from Maryland Transit Administration (MTA). We took a ride on the MARC commuter rail to Washington, DC and sent the first of several tweets to update KAI friends and followers. We rose to street-level from the Metro and hustled to Bike and Roll to join the interns from Toole Design Group and the District DOT. There we strapped on our bike helmets and hit the pavement for a tour of DC transportation sites. The safe and hilarious Joe Toole, former Associate Administrator for the Federal Highway Administration's Office of Safety, led the way. Activities throughout the tour included gliding down the bicycle lanes along the center of Pennsylvania Avenue and location checks at the White House and the original mile marker for the first Army Corps of Engineers’ expedition. We explored the transportation collection at the National Museum of American History, envisioned DC’s original topography and infrastructure and its early public works projects, and engaged in general merrymaking while hand-signaling turning movements.

In the afternoon, Joe accompanied us on foot to the office of Toole Design Group (no relation to Joe Toole) for a roundtable discussion of MAP-21 with Greg Cohen, President and CEO of the American Highway Users Alliance. While the visit to Toole Design Group provided everyone respite from the 100-degree weather and a chance to refuel with Potbelly’s sandwiches, the discussion of federal transportation policy making and the latest transportation bill was, by far, the paramount experience of the day. Enhancing the serious topic were strikes of lightning and cracks of thunder as a summer storm rolled through the metroplex. Once the storm subsided, we bid adieu to our generous hosts and splish-splashed along the pavement to the Bullpen outside Nationals Park for a pregame happy hour with the DC chapter of Young Professionals in Transportation and a few rounds of Cornhole. Finally, we headed into the ballpark to continue networking and enjoy a winning game against the NY Mets.

Thursday, July 19

After setting up posters for the afternoon Project Fair, we set off in a sleek coach bus, accompanied by our fearless leaders Alek Pochowski and Joe Toole. The first stop of the day was Maryland Transportation Authority’s (MdTA’s) Fort McHenry Tunnel Facilities for a tour of the operations command center and the ventilation and pump facilities. We then hit the road, continuing on to the William Preston Lane, Jr. Memorial Bridge (Bay Bridge). We met with the operations director to discuss safety and congestion challenges associated with the high levels of peak period traffic on the bridge. We even had the opportunity to ride across the Bay Bridge and admire beautiful Chesapeake Bay.

Back at the KAI office, we gathered for the Project Fair and presented some of our summer work. Ranging from intersection operations to roundabout design and to ped/bike facilities, the projects reflected the diversity of our experiences. Baltimore staff and guests scored each of the presentations in a few categories, including Fewest Misspellings, Best Orators, and Most Head Scratching. The winners received fabulous prizes—candy and Baltimore souvenirs!

We ended the night with dinner at Schuckers in Fells Point (a dining decision arrived at with the best of the interns’ negotiation and consensus building skills) with Joe Toole and members of the MTA and KAI staff. A prodigious storm hit Baltimore that evening and flooded a few blocks of streets (shout-out to the cabbie who was bailing water from his cab with a plastic cup), forcing some of the interns back into the office for a few excellent ping pong matches. Thankfully, Alek showed off his creative routing skills and navigated the stranded interns through the inundated network.

Friday, July 20

The final day of Intern Week was a time for recovery from the eventful Jamboree. We met with Kelly Laustsen, Ed Myers, and Joel Mann to discuss strategies for effective project management, including managing project work time, planning schedules, and communicating regularly with project team members—strategies we can apply to both school and future jobs.

On Friday night, Joel joined us in setting the town on fire with the spices of a rich Afghan dinner. We closed out Intern Week with a visit to the classy Owl Bar, a former speakeasy located in the historic Belvedere Hotel.

All in all, the Intern Jamboree experience was one that none of us will ever forget. We thank everyone in the Baltimore office for their warm hospitality and staff, company-wide, who made Intern Week such a success. Thank you!

Check out photos of Intern Week on KAI’s Facebook page.

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