School: Virginia Tech Major: Construction Engineering and Management Company: Manhattan Construction Co. Internship from 5/18/15 — 8/21/15
This summer I worked as a project and field engineer intern on Fairfax County Public Safety Headquarters in Fairfax, VA. It was a 142 million dollar, LEED Silver and blast proof building that will be the new home to both the fire and police departments. The building is comprised of a steel structure with an architectural precast and curtain wall exterior. This project also had a five tier parking garage that was connected to the building with a bridge. Since this was both a LEED certified and blast proof building, the design incorporated features such as green roofs and blast proof precast panels, giving me the chance to experience the coordination efforts and quality control checks necessary to the success of the project.
What results did you achieve on the project(s), and what impact did they have on the company?
When I arrived on the project, it was in the structural stage of construction. This gave me the chance to review, post and create RFI’s relating to structural, MEP, and architectural features since construction was in the early stages. I also created logs to ensure up-to-date contract drawings, shop drawings, RFI’s and submittals. This was important to the company because it ensure that no mistakes would arise from working off outdated plans.
Quality control was an important focus of mine this summer. Before each concrete pour I would check the layout of MEP poke throughs in the metal decking as well as the structural embeds and block outs to ensure correct locations, avoiding the cost of rework to the company later. After each pour I would perform floor flatness quality control checks using a F-Meter Rolling Floor Profiler. In the contract specifications were project standards that had to be maintained. After each quality control check, I tabulated the results and locations and sent them to the owner and concrete subcontractor. This benefited the company because it showed the owner we cared about the quality of the project just as much as they did, building trust and respect.
What real-life technical or business skills did you learn during the internship?
This summer was a great learning experience for me. Since it was my first internship with a general contractor, I was exposed to many new practices and processes. When I first started this summer I had never posted an RFI or transmitted a submittal and had to ask a lot of questions. By the end of the summer, other project engineers were relying on me to create this RFI’s and submittals on my own.
I also got to spend a lot of time in the field with the superintendents using survey equipment to layout control lines and elevation benchmarks. I had taken classes in college familiarizing myself with the equipment but actually getting to use them in the field with confidence was a great feeling.
As part of my summer internship we had to give a presentation to senior management showing what we learned and enjoyed about the summer. I have attached a PDF file of this presentation which further explains the key things I took away from my internship.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
One of the key things I took away from my internship is that showing respect to everyone, no matter their position, is the key to success. Before this summer I worked as an Electrician’s Assistant. Having this background I know how hard construction is. Many of the engineers I worked with this summer did not have this background and seemed to look down on the construction laborers and what they do. One of my favorite experiences of my internship was lat one day after a concrete pour when there was a few yards left over. There was only one laborer left so I helped him pour a duct bank with what was left over. This may seem like just a little job but it gave me a sense of pride to know that I physically had a part in the construction of the project. After that day, every time I saw him or any of the other workers, I felt like they had more respect for me and knew that I was not just another college kid coming to tell them what to do, but rather just another person working to ensure the success of the project.
Where do you think technology will make the biggest impact in construction in the next few years, and how will it do that?
In the coming years BIM will have a huge impact on construction documents. I believe that superintendents will start to carry around iPad’s or have field stations with all the plans, instead of having paper plans in the job site trailer. These electronics plans will have many benefits. First, all changes can be linked to the area that it effects, reducing the risk of missing RFI’s, ASI’s, etc. This will ensure that all plans will be current. Submittals will be linked as well, which will provide the exact dimensions, reducing rework later. Secondly, BIM technologies allow for much more detailed plans. These allows for fabrication of materials offsite in factories, under ideal conditions, improving accuracy and ensuring that they will be right the first time. The third benefit is that a 3D model can be created for owners so that they can see what the project will look like before it is built, reducing field change orders. The 3D models can also incorporate schedules and can show the phases of work, allowing for better preconstruction plans such as site layout. These technologies also decrease the amount of man hours necessary for commissioning. Lastly, upon completion and hand over of the project, very accurate as-built plans can be given to the owner which will incorporate the operation and maintenance manuals, reducing the time and cost to solve problems that may arise in the future.