School: University of Florida Major: Construction Management Company: Ranger Construction Industries Inc. Internship from 5/5/15 — 8/21/15
At the beginning of my internship, I was tasked with assisting the head of the business development department. In business development I helped estimate potential projects ranging in size from $100,000 to $30 million. My job specific duties were contacting owners looking for upcoming work, networking to create a working relationship with owners, and supporting the bidding process. During the bidding process I performed take-offs evaluated costs for performance, and contacted subcontractors for work to be performed. After a month or so within the business development department I was asked to join a team working on three separate projects Ranger was awarded to the Palm Beach International Airport. I was asked to support the project manager with preconstruction and construction duties as our resources were depleted and deadlines approaching.
My first task for these projects was to create a full working schedule for 7 phases of construction that included flight holidays, airplane navigations, and extreme liquidated damages for closing runways too long. Construction duties included updating the construction schedule, tracking costs, and monitoring on-site construction activities. Most of my summer internship was spent working on those functions, but with some free time I was able to explore some other areas of the company. One day I was able to make a trip to our sister company White Rock Quarries and experience a lime rock detonated blast. One midnight I was able to join another project manager to witness a full shut down of I-75 for a bridge demolition. Another week I was able to spend some time on an earthwork moving project and operate various pieces of equipment. Lastly, I spent two weeks with a QC technician following our paving crew checking spread rates, smoothness, cross slopes, and density on asphalt being placed on the I-95 Express lanes. This was all completed within a three month internship from the help and guidance of the kind men and women of Ranger Construction.
What results did you achieve on the project(s), and what impact did they have on the company?
Ranger Construction had been awarded a large amount of work before showing up for this summer’s internship; with that being said the staff in the office, including the president, vice president, project managers, and project engineers were all extremely busy and under a great amount of stress. Project start dates were arriving sooner than later and job specific tasks were piling up. The operations manager asked me if I could take over pre-construction tasks for an airport job to alleviate some of the responsibility of other project managers and engineers. I took on the task of turning in submittals, tracking down sub-contractors, badging personnel for security clearance, and creating a working schedule from a set of plans.As I worked on the job I was given, I tallied ten-hour work days to help expedite services with the start date approaching. The submittals that I completed were a safety plan, quality control plan, electrical, and asphalt mix design. Contracts from subs that were going to be performing work began sending in their contracts for review as submittals from me were going out. I finally was able to get some help from the project manager and engineer because their previous job had just concluded and were taking over the airport project. In the end all the submittals, sub contracts, and schedule were turned in on time and ready to go before the start of construction because of the responsibility given to me.
What real-life technical or business skills did you learn during the internship?
There were two main business skills instilled in me this internship that I believe can take with me for the rest of my career. These two skills are communication and patience and they stood out to me constantly throughout my three months. These skills aren’t just necessary for the construction industry but can be applied in life at home as well. First, communication is possibly the most important skill to have within the construction industry due solely to the fact that numerous emails are sent every day, phone calls are answered every day, and meetings are held weekly. In the construction industry everyone works as a team to accomplish goals, in our case successfully built projects, and without communication accomplishing that is nearly impossible. I learned to speak my voice when I thought an idea was important, ask questions when I didn’t know the answer to something, and listen to what other people are telling me so I can adequately do my job correctly the first time. In construction everyone must be on the same page to make sure that work is done correctly, and if problems arise everyone can be informed and understand what they are and talk about how they can be fixed sufficiently. Communication can be applied in my everyday life as well by letting my parents know where I am, telling friends where to meet when we hang out on the weekends, and even talking to my professors about classes back at school. Communication is a part of life in and out of work. The next skill I learned was patience. Patience is key in construction because mistakes can be made if you try to rush things. Rushing in construction can be detrimental in terms of money and in life & death. Patience can be applied to many instances in construction. Tempers flare and situations can get heated when stakes are on the line. Keeping a level head and being patient with someone can neutralize a situation to allow for proper thinking. Patience is a virtue and taking that skill home with you can lead to a better lifestyle.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
The goal for this summer’s internship was application. I wanted to take what I have learned this past year in school at the University of Florida and apply it to the real world industry to get the most out of my learning experience. The classes that I wanted to touch on the most were estimating, Heavy highway project delivery methods, and lastly scheduling. Our school doesn’t allow student to take summer classes because they believe internships are crucial to the learning experience and provide an experience that cannot be given in the classroom. With that thought in mind, I tried to maximize my learning by asking Ranger construction to put my knowledge and studies to the test. I used proper bidding techniques and strategies learned in the classroom to complete a bid I put together for a $300,000 resurfacing project for our sister company. It was my knowledge gained in Heavy Highway project delivery methods class that made it all come into perspective on why Ranger pursues or doesn’t pursue design bid builds, public private partnerships, and lump sum projects. Lastly, I was asked to build and execute a fully working schedule from a set of plans. I couldn’t have achieved that if it wasn’t for my class on scheduling, which explained the terms and layout breakdowns to properly create a flowing and a functioning construction schedule. My goal for this summer wasn’t just to experience what the construction industry had to offer, but to apply my construction knowledge to the real world industry for a well-rounded learning experience and Ranger Construction provided the scenarios necessary to achieve that. I expected to know and understand most of the tasks given to me based off the fact that I was taught the information in class; that wasn’t the case at all. From this experience I now understand that there is always something new to learn in this industry. What has positively affected me was I made a couple of mistakes during this internship but I learned from them, they made me better, and has taught me to always have a thirst for knowledge in this industry that I have such a passion for.
Where do you think technology will make the biggest impact in construction in the next few years, and how will it do that?
When I think of technology I immediately associate the word with efficiency. Efficiency can be described as achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort. So what is wasted effort? In the construction industry wasted effort is resources such as equipment, materials, and people, which when wasted, all cost MONEY. Every single contractor’s goal is to create a quality job within a budget provided. Some old-fashioned contractors may say “we already do that with our ways of construction now,” this may be true but, what technology can do is save money within a budget by producing a productive project. Now construction is a vast industry ranging in many different types of work. Different types of technology can be applied to all types of construction. My internship was with a heavy civil road and bridge contractor so my technology will be focused on how it can grow and contribute within the heavy highway industry. The technology that I believe will make an extreme impact on the heavy highway industry is drone surveying. Drone surveying allows job sites to be surveyed quicker than a surveying crew that may take a full week to note all the progress on a job. The drone can survey a full project within a day, giving key information such as material excavated, placed, or stock piled. Other information such as grade elevations and as-builts can also speed up the construction process. I consider real-time information key to making a job site dynamic. Drone surveying provides up to date accurate maps and data that can measure progress against a schedule. Drone surveying can also allow you to view the landscaped surface and impose overlays of plans onto what’s actually been built, calculate volumetric measurements and allow you to share all of this to company executives and owners. Minimizing wasted effort can be achieved through drone survey by allocating resources properly through real-time tracking.