School: Ball State University
Major: Construction Management
Company: Lithko Contracting
Internship from 5/11/15 — 8/14/15
I worked on a 7-story post-tension parking garage for Oklahoma University Medical College. When I got there, we had just finished drilling/pouring piers. Then the next step was foundation work, I worked side by side with a field engineer doing layout out for grade beams and pier caps. Gaining experience in using a total station and being a rod man. After we laid templates for each grade beam an operator would start digging each time he dug I would set up a laser level and get the bench mark and use that to derive the elevation for each grade to make sure we would have enough clearance on the bottom and top of the beams. Then after the grade beams were dug out I would do takeoffs to get an exact number for the quantity of concrete. After we finished the perimeter foundation work, we began laying out for knee wall or foundation walls where the slab on grade work could then begin. Carpenters would set the set slab edges and then I had to get elevations for FF and pop chalk lines on the entire perimeter of the Slab on grade area. Then we had to place elevation dowels so the finishers could get FF, we placed over 50 dowels in this particular pour because of the slope we had with this slab on grade. We repeated those steps I just covered for three more pours after that to finish the slab on grade work. I worked in laying out columns with the field engineer basically the same way we did the grade beams, but the columns had to be precise because they worry going be the structural components for the garage and also because they would be extending 7 stories high and if they are off just a 1/8″ at the base, when we get to floors above that 1/8″ could change to 1/2″ which could create conflict. I worked with each of the different carpentry crews (walls, decks/beams, columns) and for two weeks this summer I worked with our finishers pouring concrete at wee hours of the morning. My first day with the finishers we poured 700 yards of concrete for a warehouse. As we started going vertical the filed engineer and I would layout columns and then we would mark each column after it was poured with an elevation. Each elevation on the columns was the mark that the crews setting our tables and beam forms would use to get the elevation of their forms to ensure the FF was correct. At the end of the summer I placed myself with rodbusters, which in my opinion is the hardest job on site that we have. I wanted to learn to tie and lay rebar and so that is what I did for the remainder of my time with the company. On rain days I would be in the job site office going over plans and RFI’s with the QA/QC guy. After our first deck pour I worked with the inspector and or QA/QC guy stressing cables and ensuring that every thing went how it was suppose to. When I left we were just finishing getting the 3rd floor 1st pour ready to go.
What results did you achieve on the project(s), and what impact did they have on the company?
The results I achieved while on this project was a huge improvement on my layout skills. I would say approximately half of the time was doing some form of layout, whether is was transferring elevations or marking where form work needed to go. When I first came out I thought I had it all figured out, but soon realized how much I had to learn and that is what I did, even though I still a lot to learn.
What real-life technical or business skills did you learn during the internship?
I learned how the different subs communicate within the project and what can happen if they do not. Ex: the electrical sub thought he had his conduit high enough that it would be out of the top of the concrete in a column well turned out it was too low and our guys quick caught it and let him know even when it wasn’t our responsibility and we saved him a lot of time and money. I learned the difference between two different types of bosses, one that was laid back and one that wanted to get things done. I learned that you need to balance between the two because the laid back one the crews liked him, but took advantage of him. The one that rushed everyone, no one really cared for him; therefore crews wouldn’t always do their best because they were rushing. So, if one can balance between the two, they would make for a great boss, which is what I will try and do when I get to that level one day.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
That relationships and reputation are everything when it comes to construction. It goes the same for everyday life, but in construction you are more than likely going to be working with people with different personalities or with a company that is not a fan of your company. But if you can put your differences aside and work as a team the project will go much more smooth than if you were just creating conflict the entire job. And that is were reputation comes into rule, if you have a reputation of being respectful and knowledgeable about your work, then there is higher chance of winning jobs and having companies wanting to work side by side with you. Same goes for life you want people to have trust that what you say you are going to do, you do.
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 have the biggest impact on energy efficiency. Because that is a huge deal now, everyone wants to save money and make buildings and system as energy efficient as possible. This is already being done with new software, but I feel that that software is going to continue to advance in the future. To add to that research on products and experimentation with new products and systems will combine with the energy efficiency technology to make buildings highly efficient.