School: Old Dominion University
Major: Civil Engineering Technology
Internship from 3/23/15 — 8/28/15
During my internship at i+iconSOUTHEAST I had the opportunity to bid and work on multiple projects. Our company believes in showing interns the the entire process of bidding work as well as physically working on a job site. One job in particular I was able to assist our estimating department is the Hampton Coliseum Lake Water Quality Retrofit, which involves driving over 12,000 linear feet of sheet piles for a weir which will help regulate storm water runoff from the parking lot adjacent to the lake. We ended up winning the award and plan on mobilizing early October.
I also had the opportunity to work on a few of our job sites which are currently in progress. A few of these jobs include Portsmouth’s MLK Extension, Courtland’s bridge replacement, Virginia Beach’s Hyatt Place and Point Chesapeake’s Seawall. Our biggest project to date is the Martin Luther King Extension which involves over a mile of off ramps and tunnels connecting Portsmouth with Norfolk Virginia. We are a subcontractor to Skanska and Kieweit, also known as SKW. Our contract for this job consists of driving concrete piles, pouring the concrete superstructure and pouring over a mile of concrete decking.
What results did you achieve on the project(s), and what impact did they have on the company?
I currently work in our estimating department working on upcoming bids. My main job in the department is to assist our Chief Estimator through the bidding process with whatever he needs. I have helped our chief estimator by performing material takeoffs, interpreting the design specifications, compiling quotes for each bid item within the project and recently imputing different bid items and activities into HCSS.
I feel I have helped distribute the work load through our estimating department by performing some of the simpler tasks like takeoffs and compiling quotes for our estimators which can be time consuming considering the amount of upcoming work. I am hoping to broaden my knowledge about our estimating software, HCSS, when I attend the HCSS 101 course this November. This will help me to eventually start estimating the smaller jobs which take up a lot of our estimators time. Once I have a little bit more knowledge of the program I am hoping to help out tremendously within the department.
What real-life technical or business skills did you learn during the internship?
I have learned a lot of good business skills and business practice through my internship, some of which I would have never learned in a classroom. By starting off in the estimating department I have really grasped the value of the dollar when it comes to building bridges, bulkheads and laying foundations. I now know how much work actually goes into the construction process and how to estimate accordingly. When estimating an upcoming job, one needs to be sure to mentally plan out how a certain job should be built to optimize profit margins and to stay competitive when bidding work against other construction firms.
If there is one main thing I have taken away during my internship with i+iconSOUTHEAST it is to abide by our core values which are “work safely, value people, act with integrity and provide solutions.” I learned that if you keep these four main principles in mind while estimating and working on a construction site your company will continue to be successful and your key stakeholders will be pleased with your work and attention to detail. As long as your “customer” is happy they will continue to utilize your construction firm.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
One main lesson I learned which really affected my life in a positive way is how to communicate with people in a way that is beneficial for the company, as well as on a personal level. I found out quickly that the construction industry is all about forming positive relationships with the suppliers, GC’s and owners in order to make your company successful. When I started at i+iconSOUTHEAST back in March I literally thought I would be stuck in an office cubical designing and running calculations in different programs like my school made it seem like I would be doing, but I quickly learned this was not the case. In order to make a deal happen between a contractor and an owner you need to network with all sorts of people from all parts of the industry. Building things is such a small portion of this work, networking and finding where your next job will be is what keeps Construction firms open and on top.
Before working at i+iconSOUTHEAST I was a bit shy and reserved when it came to communicating with people. This internship showed me how to branch out and represent both yourself and your company in a positive way. If there is one thing that I take away from my internship it would be networking is key to making deals and forming great relationships. This goes for working in the construction industry as well as ones’ personal 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 believe technology has, and will, greatly impact the estimating and planning side of construction. As jobs become more and more complex with stricter and smaller budgets I believe it is imperative to give the most competitive price a construction firm can in order to get the job and stay within budget. The only way to do this, while still making money on the job, is to have reliable estimating software which will accurately depict the costs a job will incur over the duration of the project. Every successful job relies on a healthy budget and thorough planning in order for a job to meet specification and return a profit.
Technology these days makes material take-offs a breeze compared to a few years ago. Accurate quantities of material is key to visualizing how a job will get done from the begining to the end of a projects life. Once these quantities are figured out it can then be plugged into estimating software, such as HCSS, that have formulas which account for profit, material cost, overhead, burden and employee compensation/ wages. Before estimating software came into play, I’d imagine all these things would need to be accounted for by hand on a piece of paper using a calculator, which could result in many errors due to the lack of organization. There are many pieces of technology that can improve the construction industry, however considering the estimate is like the building blocks of a successful project I strongly believe that this piece of technology will improve construction projects within the next few years.