TML'ers have their say! #4

In this section we would like to introduce you to our colleagues at TML. This way you get to know us a little better and discover what everyone within TML is doing. Recently we had a conversation with Willem, Dirk, Kris, and Hanne!

Hello everyone, and thank you for taking the time for us. Tell us, what great projects are you working on right now?

Willem: Ah, I am helping to develop the vision for Telraam by preparing a proposal for subsidies. But what interests me the most at the moment are dynamic traffic models. I can further develop the expertise gained during my PhD, collaborate with the software developers, and thus know the ins and outs of the models. That is a pleasant approach; my expertise is quite strong in depth, and I am happy that I can continue to work on it. I am also a jack of all trades in the field of computer technology, and as an autodidact I want to learn a lot of information all the time, for example for data processing, web technology, etc.
Dirk: In my case I am working on several interesting projects. I spend most of my time on the Oosterweel connection. I support the entire process at a traffic engineering level, at a process level, I support the negotiations with the contractor, and I try to get everyone in the right direction, which is not always straighforward. I also monitor all traffic figures, so that everything is well substantiated since many parties are looking at these works. I also try to draw attention to road safety in other projects, and to link human behaviour to traffic engineering techniques.
Kris: I am working almost full-time with our Telraam product and its new company, Rear Window. We are now mainly going to further develop parts of Telraam, such as the new sensor and new features on the website. I am now working on the remote sensing project for TML. It is great to be involved in useful technologies, to work with interesting international partners, and to devise new forms of enforcement.
Hanne: I spend most of my days designing traffic light controls for the traffic light control centre in Antwerp. One of my favourite aspects of this at the moment is a microscopic traffic simulation of the Noorderlaan. I really like it, especially because it concerns well-defined control areas, and you see a lot of progress with that. You quickly have a finished result. Designing intersections, microsimulations, drawing up traffic light control cycle plans, checking counts and measurements, etc. My tasks vary very well. We have been doing this for a few years now, we know the clients, and the cooperation runs smoothly.

All those projects sound very exciting! And now we are even more curious: how did you end up with traffic engineering at TML?
Willem: I think I've always liked developing computer programs. That once started with programming a game by myself. My passion lies in the development of algorithms and pieces of software code, with an eye for the theoretical side. Traffic has come my way rather by accident. I went to study engineering as there you can learn about many things about the world. I opted for civil engineering, because there you could immediately see your realisations in the world. Ultimately, I am passionate about the simulation models used and the link with traffic models.
Dirk: After graduating as an engineer, I thought it was important to have proper interactions and communication, to understand the situation, to have insight into how things work, and to explain it to people in such a way to understand all their concerns. Traffic is a good angle for this because it has a lot to do with the functioning of a system. I like to keep doing it and would miss it if I couldn't do it anymore.
Kris: I had gained expertise in environmental science and calculation techniques. I was also familiar with quantisation techniques. I started at TML because there had just started a project for the determination of emissions from shipping and rail traffic. Until then, the sector had only worked with simple estimates. We created the EMMOSS model at that time, and that has now become the default reference.
Hanne: I started my engineering studies at the time, and in the second year I chose civil engineering as my major. Of all the specialisations, I found traffic the most interesting. Later, during a previous job, I was looking for something new. A colleague of mine knew someone at TML. That's how I came into contact with the company, because of a vacancy. And it was exactly something for me. I read it, and immediately had the feeling “I can and want to do that!”

Thanks for that look at your life. How do you usually start the day, and what do you do outside of TML?
Willem: I get up. Drink coffee. Turn on my computer. Read my e-mails, and try to reply to them directly, or to classify them. I'd like to sit on top of that.
I like sports. Normally we used to play football with TML every Thursday, and I miss that now. It was a lot of fun, through rain and wind! I also play on a café team, do a lot of walking and mountain biking. And you may not have expected this, but my other great passion is BBQing. And specifically, low 'n slow. Although I rather do Texas style (mainly because I was there for a few months). That sounds very fierce, but the main thing is that you keep it lean, only with salt and pepper as a topping. And start preparing your meat at eight o'clock in the morning, moisten it every so many hours, and thus combine all kinds of techniques. Awesome!
Dirk: Yes, I get up… I start every day with an ice-cold shower for thirty seconds. And after my breakfast I spend about five minutes planning my day a bit more. I also briefly check my e-mails to see if anything stands out, but I certainly don't want to become a slave to them. I do follow up on them regularly, and put important tasks from e-mails on my to-do lists. Outside of TML I really enjoy cycling. This winter I did this once or twice a week with the mountain bike, my remedy for the corona isolation. It is a sporting and social action. This summer I would like to go on a fourteen-day mountain bike ride with some friends, a hundred kilometers a day, to Bonvalle-sur-Arc via Switzerland and Italy. The coolest thing you can do is leave one day and then arrive somewhere else days later. And what's really great: mountains! I recently did three peaks of the Alps with a friend who also guides. It is mainly a matter of perseverance, but in the context of a friendship, you can always perfom a little more.
Kris: After I get up, I first walk through the house screaming. No, that's a bit exaggerated. I always start with my e-mails. To organise myself, I have an app with to-dos, and then I pick what I'm going to do that day and move everything else. Usually it is an hour and a half later, and then a storm of new e-mails arrives. I try not to do anything work related after 7:30 in the evening. I enjoy my family, like to watch football, and want to completely unwind. Well, nowadays there are also Telraam workshops in the evening, but I like to include them. I also try to make time to read.
Hanne: With all the homework, I first set up my desk, make tea, and fill a pitcher with water. Fortunately, when I open my e-mails, it's not that bad. After that, I like to start something I can work on, such as working on a microsimulation. I do smaller things in between. By the way, the whole process has changed with working from home: I now get calls from colleagues, while we used to just talk to each other when we were not busy, sat together, or went to get coffee. Now you have to take each other's agendas into account much more. Outside of TML I enjoy spending time with our baby, and I've been taking sewing classes for four years and sometimes making my own clothes. Those lessons mainly give me self-motivation, otherwise I would probably not advance that much.

Oh! We were baffled from time to time. In a nutshell, we'll remember Willem's juicy meat, Dirk's cold showers, Kris' screams, and Hanne's sewing skills! But above all, let us thank you very much for this interview!
© 2021 Transport & Mobility Leuven | Westsite: Online Oplossingen en Webdesign