School: California State University, Sacramento
Major: Construction Management
Company: Royal Electric Company
Internship from November 18, 2013 — September 16, 2016
My interest in the construction industry began during my summers while I was in high school. I would work as a laborer remodeling homes as a summer job. After high school, I decided to join the Navy to serve my country. I spent six years on active duty, stationed in San Diego, CA. The Navy took me a long way from where I was born and raised in Blairsville, Georgia. However, I met my wife who lived in Sacramento and she, along with other reasons, convinced me to stay on the west coast. After I finished my tour in the Navy, I realized I wanted to pursue my interest in the construction industry with a degree in Construction Management. I am currently a student at California State University, Sacramento majoring in Construction Management.
I feel extremely lucky to be involved with the excellent CM program at Sacramento State. It is truly amazing how involved the construction industry is with the program. There are many classes that I have had the pleasure of taking from professionals within the construction industry. Knowing they are taking time out of their busy schedule to come teach the next generation of construction professionals proves the dedication within the Sacramento community. Another example of the industry’s involvement with Sacramento State’s program is the time that many professionals donate to help coach our Associated Schools of Construction Teams that compete in Sparks, Nevada every year. I have had the opportunity to participate on Sacramento State’s electrical team for the past two years. With the help of these professionals, we have been able to place third in the electrical open problem for both of those years. Also, this last year I was selected as the Most Valuable Presenter for the electrical problem. None of this would have been possible without the support we receive from the industry.
Since my separation from the military I have been interning at Royal Electric Company in Sacramento, CA while completing my Construction Management degree. Royal hired me knowing that I had very little knowledge in electrical construction, but understood I was very adamant about getting involved in the construction industry while I was in school. In my time there, I have worked as an assistant estimator learning the ins and outs of electrical contracting. Recently I was able to move from the estimating side to take on the role of a project engineer for the commercial division.
This summer I was asked to be the project engineer for the Westlake K-8 Charter School in Natomas California. It is a completely new ground up campus, with a fast paced schedule of only thirteen months. With such a short schedule it was extremely important that we hit the ground running. As the project engineer for this site, I am responsible for the accurate and timely completion of all submittals required for the electrical scope of work. I am also responsible for drafting RFI’s, coordinating with our subcontractors, and procuring necessary materials from vendors.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
As the project engineer for Westlake Charter School my first task was to prepare all of the necessary submittals for our scope of work. Since the project has such an aggressive schedule, we were responsible for turning in submittals for our underground scope only days after we were awarded the contract. Since the start of the project I have been ahead of schedule when turning in all of the necessary documentation for Royal’s needed materials. The preparation of these submittals often require close coordination with our subcontractors and vendors who will be supplying materials for this project. I am the direct contact for all of our subs and vendors on the Westlake project.
In addition to preparing submittals I took on the responsibility of drafting all of the RFI’s for any issues that may affect our scope of work. I found this task to be an amazing learning experience as we were allowed to have an open line of communication between the engineer of record and Royal Electric. I found this a little peculiar as it is a Design Bid Build public works project, and usually any dialogue between the contractor and engineer would have to go through the proper channels. However, since this project has such a short duration, the school district wanted to allow us to be able to talk through any of the issues directly with the engineer, and follow up any changes with the proper documentation. I have been able to have many conversations with the engineer who designed the project, and help solve any issues that we have come across thus far.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
Since my involvement with Westlake Charter School, I have a new found understanding and further respect for three specific values. Those values are teamwork, communication, and time management. All of these values were absolutely critical to ensure that work was completed in a timely manner. A break down in any of these skills would cause many issues to arise.
Teamwork on a project with a condensed schedule and a tight work space is absolutely crucial. Throughout the duration of this project, there were and are multiple trades stacked on top of one another getting the work completed. We are working together toward a common goal, and therefore are responsible to hold up our end of the job to make sure other trades on this project are not affected or fall behind as well. Everyone is expected to work simultaneously with one another.
This project proved to me how important effective communication skills can be when solving extremely complex issues. As I mentioned earlier, Royal Electric was allowed to have an open line of communication with the engineer of record. I was able to call the engineer directly and explain to him exactly what we were seeing on the drawings, and have him explain the intent behind what was shown. This allowed us to work extremely fast toward solutions. Once we reached a solution, I was responsible to follow up with a confirming RFI in order to communicate our solution to the rest of the project team.
Time management happened to be the skill that I thought I knew the most about. I am a husband, father, student, and an intern so my knowledge of allocating the proper amount of time to activities is often challenged. However, on this project I learned what the implications were if a task was not completed in the appropriate amount of time. Having even one activity get pushed back a day because of improper scheduling could potentially result in weekly delays for other parts of the job. This meant we had to stay on top of every activity that we had direct control over.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
Every week the project manager and I attended the weekly subcontractor coordination meeting on site with the general contractor. This meeting always had a portion of time dedicated to talking about safety issues that they were seeing onsite, as well as issues that could possibly arise. We were responsible to pass all of this information along to the crew that was on site, and make sure that they were all in compliance with Royal’s own safety regulations.
Construction is an adherently dangerous occupation, but when you mix in 100 plus degree temperatures it becomes extremely dangerous. This was the case for the Westlake Charter School project as it started construction in the heart of summer in Sacramento. To make matters worse the site was wide open with no shade structures around. As such, we had to make sure that we had a proper heat illness prevention plan in place so that no one would succumb to a heat injury. Per OSHA, you are required to supply a shade structure to your employees that work out in extreme temperatures. However, the project manager and myself made the decision that it would be more beneficial to provide an air conditioned work trailer for the employees to cool off in during breaks.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
I Build America is an initiative with a main goal of bringing a positive outlook on what the construction industry is, what it does, and how you can be apart of it. Following the great recession in 2008 the construction industry came to a grinding halt. Leaving much of the workforce scrambling to find employment. Desperate to find work, much of the skilled labor left the construction industry for good. Currently the construction industry is booming. The only downside to this boom is there is shortage in skilled labor, and construction professionals. I Build America seeks to show the career opportunities that the construction industry has to offer, and the personal satisfaction that it provides.
This past year I had the opportunity to be a mentor for the ACE mentor program of America. ACE stands for Architecture, Construction, and Engineering. It’s main focus is to show high school students the potential career paths in construction related fields. I choose to be a mentor at Calvine Continuation High School in Elk Grove, California. This was a very difficult, and rewarding location to work. The students were often resistant to work with us, but once you had their attention they were fully engulfed in the idea of designing and building something for their community. Our project was a community center in Elk Grove Park focused on youth activities, such as skateboarding. The students had to come up with a design that stayed within the parameters of the project guidelines.
I feel as though the ACE mentor program has the same focus as I Build America. I am excited about my career in the construction industry, but I understand that if we do not have a strong enough work force the construction industry will not be able to meet its full potential. I think the best way to ensure the next generation of construction professionals and skilled labor is by giving your time to the community and spreading the word. I understand that the industry will only be as strong as the generation that replaces the current professionals.