We’re all about data at the Iowa Department of Transportation. Getting the data strings to weave together in a useful way is just one of the ways the 2017 Design Employee of the Year, Kyle Bennett, helps his team in the methods section and all of the designers he works with.
Automation is Bennett’s main work product. “Our section is here for support,” said Bennett, a 14-year Iowa DOT employee. “We’re always looking for ways to do things faster and better. If we can’t find a way that’s already on the market, we’ll create one.”
Brian Smith, Bennett’s supervisor, said he nominated Bennett because he’s so good at solving problems that his work may go unnoticed. Smith said, “I think people can take for granted how easily and quickly Kyle is able to get updates and adjustments made for them. He’s very customer oriented and always puts himself in the other person’s shoes.”
Bennett says he sees his work unit as the superusers of the automation that is coming in the near future for all Iowa DOT designers. He said, “I like what I do because I want to keep learning. We’re always working on the next big thing that will help people work more efficiently.”
Some examples of Bennett’s recent work include a cost estimating database. He took over support and development of the system and added several features to make the process easier and help designers develop better cost estimates. Smith said, “Things are always changing and now we’re moving into a web-based cost estimating system, and Kyle has done a lot of the heavy lifting on testing and documentation. Kyle worked with the team and the software developer to work out the bugs.”
Automating the process of getting accurate data into one database can be a big task, but making sure the data is shareable and useful to many others is another goal for Bennett. “We’re working now to tie everything together using geographic data points. We want to be able to tie data together from initial design plans all the way through construction to maintenance on down the line.”
Getting so many types of data in different formats and locations to work together is certainly a challenge, but one that Bennett looks forward to. “What I like about my job is the flexibility,” he said. “We are able to do a lot of research and throw ideas around. In our section, we each have our areas of expertise. We communicate well and we’re able to bounce ideas off each other to get the best product for our designers to use.”
Outside of work, Bennett doesn’t slow down. He and his wife, Melissa, just bought some land outside of Boone and are planning to build a new home, the fourth they have built together. They are also the parents of a new driver, Brevin, 14, who got his permit in late December. The Bennett’s daughter, Briley, 10, isn’t far behind and also keeps her parents very busy.