School: Purdue University
Major: Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering
Company: JF Brennan
Internship from May 16, 2016 — August 12, 2016
My name is Evan Pesut and I assumed the role of project engineer intern for JF Brennan in the summer of 2016. I am currently a sophomore at Purdue University majoring in environmental and natural resources engineering. I truly have a passion for protecting the environment, which JF Brennan provided me with the opportunity to do exactly that. This summer I was primarily stationed at the Fox River Cleanup Project in Green Bay. This project is recognized as one of the largest environmental remediation projects of its kind in the United States. JF Brennan’s responsibility in this project comprises of the dredging of all contaminated soil and the placement of capping material along the river bottom. As a project engineer intern, a large portion of the morning consisted of reporting on the dredging and placement progress from the previous day for client use and internal knowledge. Another prevalent responsibility on the worksite included the unification of production focused ideas with engineering rooted logistics for everyday operations and big picture innovations in the near future. Other daily tasks contained taking topographical surveys of stockpiles, creating new hydraulic pump efficiency forms, updating equipment specifications for the equipment book database, and observing dredging and placement production out on the water. Even though the Fox River Cleanup Project is not your stereotypical construction operation where buildings are erected and roads are paved, JF Brennan’s incorporation of bold passion in safety and quality work constructs something just as valuable, a healthier environment. Before my internship with JF Brennan, my experience in the construction industry consisted of nothing more than witnessing your everyday highway construction from the seat of my car as I drove along. What really intrigued my interest that lead to pursuing an internship in the construction industry was the whole concept of how designs are applied from the drawing board and projected into real life. I was also quite curious to observe how environmental issues are tied into the construction industry and how the two coexist in the workplace. Another compelling facet of construction that is vital to the production of every project no matter the industry, is how communication is incorporated to enhance the safety and overall efficiency of an operation. Personally, understanding how communication is integrated into the workplace with such a wide diversity of clients was quite an attractive quality to the construction industry.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
I took proprietary, custom-crafted equipment from the field and designed AutoCAD models. Two pieces of equipment, the new Diver-Assisted Micro Dredge Head and Sand Spreader Mount, have been sent for patent proposal which will give JF Brennan a unique selling proposition to attract and retain customers, reduce operating costs and improve company profitability. One of my proudest accomplishments this summer had to have been the development and implementation of a project staffing/crew scheduling program. Utilizing Microsoft Excel, I constructed this program from scratch incorporating VBA coding. What truly defines these tasks as noticeable results to me is due to the reality that my first AutoCAD and VBA coded program on Excel were both littered with errors and mistakes. These failures were absolutely essential to the success of these final projects because every time my AutoCAD models were edited with red pen marks or my coded programs would glitch, I learned. These achievements are more than purely results for me, they are proof that relentless hard work and the “why” behind it is what drives success. Since I had to relocate to Green Bay this summer, I believe I exceeded the company’s expectations by working overtime, including weekends, in order to absorb all of the experience one summer has to offer. As a firm believer in the benefits of cross training with all facets of the Fox River Cleanup Project, I was determined to capitalize on each opportunity to learn every aspect of the operation. I am confident that going the extra mile on the weekends to continually bolster my AutoCAD and VBA coding skills as well as expand my knowledge of hydrographic surveying alongside the surveyors definitely surpassed JF Brennan’s expectations for a first year intern. Another attribute that distinguished the quality of my performance this summer was my adeptness in identifying priorities and balancing multiple assignments varying from analytical daily reporting to creative design and programming projects.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
I quickly perceived how vital of a role communication plays in the safety, efficiency, and overall success of a project. Whether it involves suggesting a correction to an unsafe procedure or pitching an idea to upper management, it is all contingent upon the ability to effectively relay information. Most significantly, communication opened my eyes to the reality that no matter how much knowledge you acquire in college, it will go to waste if you cannot display ideas in a manner that educates everyone around you. Interacting with people of such diverse backgrounds and varying professions, such as engineers, project managers, surveyors, crew workers, and patent lawyers, has exponentially broadened my conversational aptitude and confidence in delivering information and instructions in the field.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
My active focus on safety this summer stemmed by starting the beginning of everyday with a safety meeting in the crew trailer and following up with another safety meeting later in the day with the engineers and surveyors at the office. These safety meetings aimed to bring attention to safety topics and hazards that were relevant to the specific type of work being done and the conditions in which they were being performed. JF Brennan also held a weekly company wide safety meeting with every division including diving, survey, civil, industrial, marine, and environmental. These weekly meetings sought to bring attention to near misses and incidents that occurred as well as informing the company of methods to bolster our safety culture as a whole. It was an extremely beneficial opportunity to be exposed to the safety issues that occur in other industries and to reflect on how those safety concepts can be applied to our worksite on the Fox River. Personally, I contributed to the safety of the operation by recording safety observations discovered while on the worksite via the HCSS Safety Manager application for the weekly company wide meetings and frequently volunteering to read the safety and culture topic of the day at the daily meetings. The HCSS Safety Manager application was the cornerstone for our company wide meetings which allowed safety observations from every worksite JF Brennan was represented at to be tied together and easily accessible to every other division within the company. This fluent awareness of safety within every division of the company truly allowed me to be emerged into a safety focalized culture, now I cannot simply witness road construction without looking for safety improvements where possible incidents could occur.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
From my point of view, I Build America symbolizes the true “why” behind the construction industry. Quite often over the summer I was raised with the same reoccurring question, “Why did you move so far away just to pursue an internship?” Without a hesitation I always firmly stood behind the mentality that this summer was not just consumed by an internship, instead it embodied the opportunity for me to do what I love and make the change I want to see in this world by restoring one river at a time. The I Build America movement has a genuinely unique influence on the construction industry that is distinctly reflected in the craftsmanship and pride of every single hardworking member within it. I believe that the whole notion behind I Build America is that construction is more than purely just a job, it is the backbone of America that drives innovation, connects people together, and inspires us all to make this country such an incredible place to call home. Even though I have only been in the construction industry for one summer, it has substantially influenced me to dedicate myself to what I sincerely have a passion for and take pride in everything that I do. Just the little things, like driving over the Fox River, triggers an immense amount of pride thinking of all of the people that will benefit from this project. This passion exuding throughout the worksite definitely enlightened me to the realization that I Build America is all about being apart of a movement bigger than myself, a desire to reconstruct a cleaner environment and create structures built to last for generations to come.