School: University of Evansville Major: Civil Engineering Company: E&B Paving Internship from 5/19/15 — 8/13/15
During the course of my internship with E&B Paving, Inc. (E&B), I worked on many projects both in the office and in the field. E&B has 13 offices in Indiana. I worked in the Evansville office.
At the beginning of my internship, I worked in the field on several different job sites including: city paving in Mt. Vernon Indiana, city paving in Princeton Indiana, and city paving in Evansville Indiana.
Towards the middle of the internship, I worked in the office helping prepare estimates for projects around Evansville, Princeton, and Mt. Vernon. These projects included parking lots for new fast food restaurants, private subdivisions and lanes, city streets, and even a new street in Evansville that incorporated colored concrete sidewalks.
Near the end of the internship, I worked in the office and the field I drove on-site and met with clients to get a detailed scope of work for their project. Using their preferences, I measured the dimensions of their parking lots and asphalt drives to perform quantity take-offs back in the office. The largest project that I worked on was a Ryder trucking facility near the Toyota Manufacturing Plant in Princeton, Indiana. Ryder’s existing trucking facility required new trucking paths and parking lots because the tractor trailer traffic had reduced the existing pavement into little more than gravel. The Ryder company decided that Roller Compacted Concrete Pavement (RCCP) was the best option for their facility.
What results did you achieve on the project(s), and what impact did they have on the company?
The main objective of any internship should be to learn as much information as you can about the company and its type of business; that is exactly what I accomplished at E&B this Summer.
Early in my internship, I learned the basic skills of being part of an asphalt crew. This may sound easy, but there are many techniques that experienced paving crew members use and other skills they have that takes time to master. I was fortunate enough to learn some of the controls of the paver itself. While I was out working with paving crews, I worked my way up from using a shovel to becoming a lute-man. I would not have been able to do this without the trust of the other team members. Since I was only an intern, if I made a mistake that was not corrected, the paving team would have been responsible. I truly enjoyed this part of the internship because I believe that if you have to potential to be someone else’s supervisor, you should know exactly what their job entails. Many graduates go straight from college directly to a supervisor position, and they don’t have a detailed idea of what their crew members go through on a daily basis.
I achieved even more in the middle part of the internship. Estimating is a crucial part of any construction business. While estimating, I learned both the basics and even some in-depth parts of the process of estimating for an asphalt company. To be able to estimate for an asphalt company you have to not only know the material cost, but how to calculate quantities. I did not have access to the software program that the E&B estimators use now, but I did get to use their old program. Since I was an intern, the estimators could not simply submit my calculations for use in bids, but they did show me their calculations when they were completed. Even though they were using a new program, I came within approximately one percent of their estimate on several bids. From this, I realized that I had learned how to estimate simpler projects.
Toward the end of the internship I prepared a cost estimate for the Ryder Trucking facility. This project had the largest cost of any project that I worked on. I prepared the cost estimate after I measured all of the facility boundaries and dimensions. This was difficult due to all of the parked tractor trailers on the property. The scope of work included two different properties: the main Ryder facility and an adjoining gravel lot that was in the process of being purchased by the Ryder facility. I completed my measurements for one phase at a time. Once I successfully measured the facility, I submitted my measurements and detailed drawings to the superintendent. The superintendent showed me how to calculate the number of “pulls” that the asphalt paver had to complete along with each pull’s length and width. This was incorporated into the cost estimate of the project.
What real-life technical or business skills did you learn during the internship?
I learned several real-life technical skills and management skills in E&B’s lab, plant, office, and job sites. Each section of the business taught me different skills.
In the lab I learned the techniques and processes that the technicians go through every day when designing and testing asphalt mixes. I learned how to design an asphalt mix according to the Marshall Method and the Super-pave Method. I got to perform all of the tests that a lab technician performs when testing to calculate whether a super-pave asphalt mix meets design specifications. These tests started by using the proper collection method from a 20 ton dump truck to measure a sample’s binder content. All of these methods are performed in accordance with the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) Manual.
I learned only part of the technical skills of an asphalt plant operator. One of the most simple, but crucial skills of the plant operator is to memorize all of the parts of an asphalt plant and know all of the grease points. An asphalt plant is like any other mechanical equipment; it must be properly taken care of in order to operate at full potential. Another skill I learned at the plant is how to manage both time and space. A plant operator must always be on time in order for daily operations to flow smoothly. Just like cars in cold weather, an asphalt plant needs to be “fired up” in plenty of time before it must be used. This is why the plant operator must arrive in the mornings and let the plant run for an hour before the first truck is loaded. Time is crucial for many projects; if the trucks carrying hot asphalt to the project areas are late a project could end up being delayed by several days. This costs the company money. A plant operator must be in constant communication with all asphalt crews to know whether the crew will need more or less asphalt mix than estimated. The plant operator must understand asphalt paving operations to know whether more or less capacity is needed in the asphalt silos.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
I learned that there are many components to an asphalt business. All parts of the business rely equally on one another to complete a project. This requires cooperation and hard-work on everyone’s part, both physical and mental. Communicating with clients was a major learning experience for me in this internship; it is something I have never had to do before. It showed me that being polite and respecting clients will keep them coming back to you as long as your company does quality work on the client’s project. I know this because there were several instances when I was asked to go on-site and perform a cost estimate for clients that will only work with E&B.
The main thing that I learned in this internship is to respect everyone that works in the company. Asphalt companies cannot function unless there are people willing to get “down and dirty” or willing to put in long hours to finalize and submit a bid. The asphalt crews and the mechanics are the people who are willing to get “down and dirty.” During the part of the internship where I worked with a paving crew, I realized that some people think an asphalt crew’s job is easy or men and women work on an asphalt crew because they are not smart enough to go to college and get “a real job.” These were some of the comments made to us in the short amount of time that I worked with the paving crew. This could not be further from the truth. Many of the members of the asphalt crew are more than capable to attend college but enjoy their job because they love being outdoors. As for people thinking that an asphalt crew’s job is easy, most people would not last a day in 100 degree summer heat standing next to 300 degree asphalt.
Where do you think technology will make the biggest impact in construction in the next few years, and how will it do that?
Regarding paving companies, I believe the main technological impact will be in the mechanics of asphalt pavers, asphalt plants, and asphalt mixes.
I have seen photos of some of the first asphalt pavers and they have changed a lot. Manufacturers are always making asphalt paving operations faster and smoother. A lot of equipment in use today is robotic, and it does not need a lot of human interactions. I believe that there will soon be robotic asphalt pavers that will be able to complete mainline paving (interstates and highways) and will be operated by computer programs. This will be revolutionary for asphalt industries all over the world.
Asphalt plants are also always changing. The first asphalt plants were single-barrel plants that were inadequate when compared to the current double barrel system that asphalt plants utilize. There could be a new addition to asphalt plants that could render the current double barrel systems inadequate.
The last technology that could pose a change to asphalt industries everywhere could be a simple change in an asphalt’s formula. More recently, many asphalt companies have started to incorporate shredded roofing shingles into their asphalt mixes. The asphalt shingles are produced with oil, which is also the main ingredient in asphalt mixes. Using shingles reduces the amount of oil need for a mix which in turn reduces cost. There may be other products that will be discovered that can be incorporated into asphalt mixes to reduce the cost even more.