School: Missouri State University Major: Construction Management Company: APAC-Missouri Internship from 1/5/15 — 5/15/16
My name is Chase Ekstam, I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to hold an Intern position with APAC-Springfield, a branch of APAC-Missouri and Oldcastle Materials for the past 10 months while pursuing my Bachelor’s Degree in Construction Management at Missouri State University.I am what would be considered a “non-traditional” student while attending Missouri State University, this due in part to my decision to not continue with a higher education until later in my life. Prior to my return to college I worked in the construction industry as a laborer straight out of high school, and eventually worked my way into operating heavy equipment for an excavation company, this is where I found my passion for the heavy civil construction industry. Also, during that time I joined the Missouri Army National Guard as part of the 1438th MRBC Engineer Company where my passion for heavy civil construction grew even more.
At the age of 26, my want to know more about the construction industry led me to Missouri State University to pursue my Bachelor’s Degree in Construction Management. While at Missouri State I was astonished by the presence of the local construction contractors and their participation in the Construction Management degree program, not only for their support for scholarly and extra-curricular programs, but also from their emplacement of well put together internship programs. One company that stood out in particular to me was APAC, not only in part to their highly regarded reputation in the asphalt materials and construction industry, but also their progressive mentality in utilizing up to date software and technology to move forward in the fast paced construction industry.
My first introduction to APAC was during my sophomore year while participating in the annual Associated School of Construction (A.S.C.) Competition in Nebraska City, Nebraska. While I was not an Intern with APAC at that time a fellow friend and teammate on the Heavy-Civil team was interning with APAC. Through this teammate and the generosity of APAC’s estimating department we were able to utilize HCSS HeavyBid an estimating software program to create and build working crews to establish production rates and get a solid understanding of the timeline and cost of the work to be bid. I believe that having the ability to utilize HCSS played a crucial role in our team that year taking first place in the Region 4 A.S.C. Heavy-Civil Competition.
When the opportunity came along to accept an internship with APAC, I was excited and intrigued to gain experience in estimating and estimation software. APAC’s internship program is a well-established and organized program that is adherent to the students development along with the company’s. Having little to no experience in estimating’, I was first introduced to establishing quantities and pricing of materials to be used and estimating crew productions. Once solid foundations of these practices were established I was introduced to HCSS HeavyBid software where the estimation process was expanded into a multitude of accessible information. During the school year, I continued to work under the estimators in the office helping build estimate proposals on HeavyBid daily for a wide-range of projects. The projects ranged from privately owned subdivisions, commercial and public parking lots, to public city streets. Each day I could expect to learn new and useful information from the mentors throughout the estimating department at APAC.
This past summer, I was assigned to a position in the field shadowing a veteran Superintendent for APAC. I worked mainly on a MODOT (Missouri Department of Transportation) contract that consisted of three separate projects.Each of the projects consisted of different challenges and schedules that had to be overcome to successfully complete the project on time and satisfy the owner.Over the three projects there was approximately three miles of new roadway built from the ground up, two existing intersection widenings, two installations of signaled intersections along Route 60, multiple utilities relocations, a parking lot replacement at a middle school, and another parking lot replacement at a medical clinic. Overall the project would consist of approximately 38,000 cubic yards of Class A excavation, 27,000 tons of aggregate installed, 26,000 tons of asphalt, and nearly 12,500 linear feet of concrete curb and gutter.
What results did you achieve on the project(s), and what impact did they have on the company?
APAC was the prime contract holder on this project and would be self-performing all excavation and pipe installs, the installation of all aggregate, all concrete work; consisting of curb and gutter and sidewalks, and the installation of all asphaltic concrete. Along with self-performing these areas of the contract APAC contracted seven subcontractors to assist in other trade areas to complete the project.
This type of project with the extent of different tasks and construction trades being conducted throughout the life-cycle of the project, it was of high importance to maintain a positive management position during all phases of the project. This was the objective given to me by the Job Superintendent and Project Manager for APAC during my introduction to the project. As an intern, I was asked to assist in tracking daily productions of both APACs crews and the subcontracted crews. I would refer to the Costs Reports compiled from HCSS Heavybid daily to track our crew’s productions and compare them to the cost and production rates that our estimators had built into HCSS. I would then report these comparisons back to both the superintendent and project manager of the project to be further evaluated. We would discuss the current outlook of the project at weekly jobsite meetings conducted at the on-site project trailer.
Also, during my duration on this project I was tasked with lending assistance to the Job Superintendent with the scheduling and oversight of the subcontractors. I assisted in projecting a schedule and timeline of critical tasks that needed to be accomplished for the continued progression of the project. I would then work with each subcontractor’s leadership both in the field and their office to coordinate the approved timelines to accomplish these tasks.
I had daily interactions with MODOT’s Construction Inspectors in which I would relay any substantial information about the progression of the project and any estimated timelines for completion of tasks that were substantial. I also worked in partnership with MODOTs inspectors to maintain a positive traffic safety plan by updating any signage or barricades used to display and relay information to the general public about the current construction in the area. By keeping the traffic safety plans up to date and within specifications, APAC was able to establish a zero accident jobsite not only for the general public but for the trades men and woman on the project site.
What real-life technical or business skills did you learn during the internship?
During my internship and continued internship with APAC, I have been fortunate to acquire a multitude of skillsets and knowledge, not only through the daily job tasks, but through the availability and generosity of the staff at APAC.The staff is always available to assist in any way they can to make sure my comprehension of the skills are understood and accomplished in a way to support my success in my daily tasks and future career.
While working with the estimators at APAC my knowledge and understanding of how estimates are put together and the overall thought process of how to bid projects has increased tremendously. One way the estimators have helped to do this is to assist me in gaining the knowledge to bid the projects in such a way as to make the construction crews most likely to be successful in meeting productions and costs while at the same time making the company successful in all the ventures APAC takes on.
During my time in the field under the supervision and guidance of the Job Superintendent and Project Manager my skills of being able to assist in managing a multi-million dollar job and all the facets that go along with such a position, were honed to a point that I have an undeniable gratitude.My mentors were able to give me the skillsets to understand that a project is a constant moving and ever changing object that needs complete attention for the success of the project, both for the company and the owner. I was able to gain the understanding of how in construction you cannot only concern yourself with those tasks for that particular day, but you must also consider all the upcoming tasks and variables that coincide with those tasks. I was trained on an expanse of information on how to adjust crew sizes, predict scheduling issues, and forecast and set the logistical factors for material hauls to and from the jobsite.
With the passing down of this knowledge from the Superintendent and Project Manager I was able to grasp the concepts of how to successfully capitalize on these aspects, and how to stay within or above a successful margin for the company.I also gained a positive attribute of being able to communicate between several different entities and relay the most substantial information needed, and to comprehend what information should be kept proprietary to safeguard the position of the company in an ethical and beneficial manner.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
Through the entirety of this internship I feel that many life skills and attributes have been acquired for myself, and have played a crucial role in giving me reason to re-evaluate my goals and aspirations in a positive way.From the beginning of my internship with APAC I have felt a true feeling of comradery and family in this company.Even as what could be considered a low level position as an intern, the amount of generosity and interest in helping someone come through the ranks in this industry has been undeniable.
During my involvements with this company as an Intern, I’m reminded daily of how a good solid work ethic and a want to learn something new every day can fulfill many positive aspects in my life. I have been able to acquire a skillset that is invaluable for myself in my future career and have had the opportunity to work side by side with some of the most reputable men and women in the industry. From this I have gathered an understanding of what it means to be a successful working professional.
APAC has given me the mindset to understand that to be successful in this industry you must be passionate about what you are doing and always carry the well-being of those you work with, with you.They voice hard work and work even harder to accomplish their jobs, but at that same time always keep the safety and well-being of their workforce in mind. They have given me the mindset to understand no matter how fast or under budget you can get the work done, it all means nothing if not every single member of your workforce goes home to their loved ones safely.
Where do you think technology will make the biggest impact in construction in the next few years, and how will it do that?
Technology in the construction industry has always been a mainstay as the driving force to lead the industry into new areas of expertise that help improve and refine practices that have been in place for many years.In years past the advances came from mechanical and industrial developments that would help to improve and simplify the processes and methods of construction. In recent years the technological advances have come in the form of the digital age where the impacts have been made to make the industry a more lean and refined instrument that is capable of producing in high quantities at a high efficiency.
In the next few years I believe we will start to see the unification and revitalization of these two ages, and begin to make enormous strides in producing renewable energy on a large mass scale.With these advances, both the mechanical and technological sectors will be primary factors in revolutionizing a method to decrease the dependency on unrenewable natural resources and pave a way to re-think all areas of construction.