School: University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) Major: Construction Management – Bachelors Company: Kiewit Building Group Internship from 5/18/15 — 8/15/15
I worked on an Operations and Maintenance Facility for a Light Rail Train Line connecting Santa Monica, CA to Los Angeles, CA. My main tasks on this project were to act as the Concrete Engineer and to assist with Commissioning work.
Concrete Engineering: I was assigned to the job as an Intern, and took over the role of Concrete Engineer. I had never dealt with or been around concrete operations when I went into my Internship so I had a lot to learn. I shadowed the existing concrete engineer on one pour, a 60′ length of embedded track, before I took over the position. After that I was in charge of concrete operations and my duties were as follows: quantity take-off, scheduling, sub and inspection sign-offs, ordering, scheduling/hiring finishers and pump trucks, field coordination and access, and directing the pour operation. I learned an unbelievable amount and gained some very valuable experience during my few months as a concrete engineer.
Commissioning work: The project I was on had about 4 months left on the schedule so the project team was starting to look at commissioning requirements as a fairly hot topic. With this project being an O&M facility it had over 300 pieces of specialized shop equipment, some very intricate and one of a kind systems, and all of the normal building systems and products as well. My first task was to compile an organized spreadsheet that contained every single item that required commissioning, and it also contained everything that was required for commissioning (testing, training, inspections, witnesses, etc.). Once I had done this, I was tasked with beginning the collection process for O&M manuals. I broke the required O&M’s down by subcontractor and assigned a group of subcontractors to each project team member. I also assisted in commissioning meetings with the owner and scheduling testing dates.
Other Tasks: Safety meetings, safety walks, daily reports, environmental reports, quantity take-offs, submittals, posting RFI’s, material receiving reports, material lay down coordination, ordering building materials and material laydown coordination.
What results did you achieve on the project(s), and what impact did they have on the company?
The main results that I achieved on this project were finished concrete work and a major head start to commissioning work.
Concrete: My concrete engineering position played a vital role within the project. A lot of the project progress depended on me to get concrete poured in time so other trades could continue work. Also, our project was on a compressed schedule trying to catch up with the original schedule and we were stacking 3-4 concrete pours in the same day, often times overlapping by a few hours. The project was understaffed and when I arrived I was able to fill a large void. I believe that this played a major role in overall project progress.
commissioning: When I arrived at the project commissioning was just something that was being mentioned. It wasn’t until I arrived that somebody was actually assigned to working on getting commissioning started up. I was able to set up a spreadsheet and organize the overall commissioning requirements of the project so that anyone could pull it up and know exactly what they were looking at. during my last week on the project we hired on a full time commissioning agent and he said that the work I completed would save him a month of catching up.
What real-life technical or business skills did you learn during the internship?
The number one skill I learned this summer would be coordination. Construction projects are always going to have set backs, poor access and the need to coordinate and communicate with a lot of people at one time. This summer I was heavily Exposed to this atmosphere. I had to coordinate every single day for my concrete work, especially when it came to the actual pour. I had to find a time that I could get concrete trucks, pump trucks, finishing crews, get the different trades to complete their work and sign-off, and also coordinate access for each and every pour. It involved countless phone calls and conversations and I really think it is a skill that will stay with me and be useful throughout my entire career. I think that coordination ad communication skills correlate directly to being able to get work done, and I am glad that I was exposed to so much of it during my internship.
On other skill that I strengthened a lot this summer was time management. At any given point this summer I was juggling anywhere from 3-10 tasks from a variety of different people. Most of which were completely separate and all of which had substantial time requirements. I learned a great deal about how to manage time and prioritize my assignments. I worked long hours to complete everything and I made it a point to give status updates to all that were relying on me to complete a task so that they didn’t think I was blowing their task off. Time management is a skill that will always be needed and tested on a construction project and it is a skill that must continue to be refined. Working this summer really helped me bring that skill up to a substantial level.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
This internship has taught me the importance of working as a team. Time and time again I saw other employees volunteering to take on additional roles and help people out even though they were swamped themselves. I also saw a lot of people go out of their way to help me when I was struggling. At every turn somebody on the project, even from other companies, were there teaching me or showing me how to do something better or more efficiently. Construction projects take a vast level of teamwork and coordination and I think that this internship has really showed me that in a huge way. The teamwork on the project rubbed off on me immediately and I really embraced the concept, and will be using that attitude for more than just work in my life.
Where do you think technology will make the biggest impact in construction in the next few years, and how will it do that?
I think that technology will make the biggest impact in construction in the form of early conflict resolution. In the next few years, I think technology can take what is already being done with 3D building modeling, and apply it to predict future conflicts and follow along with the project as it is being built, in order to resolve conflicts with the least amount of change and change costs. Technology is advancing every single day and it has only served to make construction projects more productive. I see foreman and superintendents walking around with current project drawings and specs right on a tablet they can fit into their pocket. That’s saves them from having to go back to the drawings every time an issue comes up. Another aspect of technology that I think is going to continue to integrate our industry is the technology to build in ways that haven’t been seen yet. Every year technology advances and with it more and more is possible. I am very excited to see what we can do with that growth in the years to come.