School: Texas Tech University
Major: Civil Engineering
Company: Allen Butler Construction, Inc.
Internship from May 4, 2015 — May 2, 2016
My name is Geraldo Hernandez and I am a student at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX. I am currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering. I am fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity to be a Project Management Intern at Allen Butler Construction, Inc. (ABCI) for over a year now. ABCI is an experienced heavy highway civil construction company. While working at ABCI, I have been given opportunities to contribute to a variety of great construction projects. While working full-time this past summer I was given the responsibilities of Project Engineer to assist in a major bridge overpass development. I am grateful for the professional growth and unique experiences I have encountered while being an intern.
Growing up in Fort Worth, TX construction projects were always nearby in one way or another, mainly due to my father’s construction business. It has always fascinated me to see the visible evolution of a construction project. The precision of construction is truly captivating to me. While working with my father I was able to learn the trade of home renovations. I became knowledgeable about a great deal of construction equipment and participated in the necessary communications with subcontractors. I am lucky to have had the opportunity to see both the structural side of construction as well as civil construction.
I chose the construction profession because it is highly collaborative, challenging, and requires superior motivation to accomplish goals. I have always wanted to be involved with the creation of interstates, highways, and bridges. All of these super concrete structures contribute to the ever-increasing civilian needs of our modern society. In order to contribute to the forward momentum of society, a construction engineer must build the crucial foundation of an intern.
As a college student with a goal-oriented mind set, I knew an internship in civil construction would be a beneficial milestone towards my future career of becoming a Professional Engineer. Through this internship I am able to acquire the knowledge one can only gain from on-the-job experiences. I have enhanced my ability to think with the essential engineering mind set. I look forward to the day where I am able to apply all the principles and resources I have learned about while interning in construction. With the help of my internship at ABCI I will soon be able to implement and stamp my own designs.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
From this internship I have been able to experience the behind the scenes operations of heavy civil construction as well as the different levels of manual dexterity demonstrated on the field. I am privileged to be a part of both aspects of my future career.
The majority of my internship is spent in the office assisting current projects by managing and tracking daily operations. I have had the opportunity to interact with chief administrators of ABCI and learn from professional engineers, inspectors, project managers, and crewmen. I have also gained the skills necessary to communicate with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), subcontractors, and suppliers regarding tasks at hand. I have seen how the estimating and recording processes of construction is planned and executed. My experiences in the office have not only been beneficial towards my education but they are also preparing me for my long-term goals.
While on the field I have been able to see the step-by-step progression of the project. It is fascinating to me to see how the plans on paper evolve into real-life transportation. I am now much more versed about the implementation of traffic control, storm water prevention, surveying, and the necessary materials needed to build a successful framework for heavy civil construction. I have been able to observe the production of road widening, asphalt paving, bridge work, and drainage system operations. I am incredibly fortunate to have been given the opportunity to witness first-hand the machines and technology used today to create our roadways.
I believe I have exceeded my company’s expectations for my role through my work ethic and dedication to succeed. While managing and tracking materials I have created multiple spreadsheets used company wide. These spreadsheets detail and organize contact listings, trucking information, estimation forecasts, cost tracking, phone memos, and disadvantage business enterprise (DBE) details. ABCI is now able to view all project information in one easy step. I also believe ABCI has been impressed with my interactions and people skills. By building personal relationships with my coworkers I have now become the office’s go-to guy whenever they need help with something, for example AutoCAD drafting, verifying shipment delivery, performing measurements, and data entry. My ability to build relationships has allow me to effectively manage the individual expectations from personnel within the company to get the job done.
By illustrating I am ambitious about my position, my willingness to help others, believing in the work I do, and pushing myself to learn more each day, provides my company an in-depth look at my efforts. ABCI can see that I am dependable and able to exceed expectations that I aspire to accomplish.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
This internship has given me the stepping stone I need to further my career. I have been able to learn many different aspects of heavy construction and practice what I’ve been learning in the classroom and develop hands-on, practical skills.
Interactions with my team have already begun to affect my life in a profoundly way. The Chief Project Manager at ABCI has inspired me to further my education and career by becoming a licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.). As a P.E. I would be considered at the top of my profession. I would be equipped to prepare and submit engineering plans to public authorities or private clients. Becoming a P.E. would also demonstrate my commitment to the highest standards of engineering practices. This license would open up career and business opportunities only few people have the ability to achieve.
Immediate supervisors have also taught me to think outside of the box with an engineering and business mind set. My time spent learning from them have helped me take the in house technology and apply it on the field when obstacles arise. For example, a problem from the field surfaced when culvert inlets and junctions boxes were improperly installed. In result of this issue, pipe and roadway alignments were jeopardized for a good stretch of the project. Adjustments needed to be made. Thus, we went to the drawing board and figured grade, offset, and alignment calculations. The calculations were used in AutoCAD for verification then surveyed on the field to resolve this issue. The moral of the example is that from my interactions with the supervisors, I have learned how to define the problem, think out solutions, and utilize the resources you have to perform sufficiently with minimal cost. These problem solving abilities will be very beneficial in my future career.
Overall, the most positively influential aspect of my time spent as a Project Management Intern would be seeing my predecessor’s leadership abilities. He has shown me how to lead a team, think strategically, and manage projects. Leadership is about the vision of the future and ability to motivate employees to achieve it. Being able to encourage team morale and lead a project to success is key in being a superior leader. He has taught me to have the drive necessary to attain results. I strive to have his dedication and determination. I will always be grateful for the impact my internship at ABCI has had on me.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
Safety is the top priority on all projects at ABCI. The multiple methods of prevention put in place keep everyone safe from the hazards of construction. Before each job, every employee must be properly trained on how to handle the unexpected accidents that may arise on the job site. Every week employees must attend the Job Hazard Analysis Meeting to discuss the routine precautions, as well as any new machinery or material that needs to be briefed. The safety programs enforced on the job take a large amount of time to plan, then properly execute. These commendable efforts demonstrate the dedication and passion the people of construction have for their line of work. From the tailgate talks to the office conference room, safety is always the primary concern. I am much more versed in the importance of safety all thanks to my internship at ABCI.
While interning, my company appointed me to enroll in a Traffic Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (TMUTCD) course to educate me on the necessary rules and guidelines for traffic control plans. The sixteen hour long course consisted of the regulation of signs and barricades, application of traffic control devices for all roads and highways, as well as how to analyze the traffic control plans. I am much more cognizant of the priority of safety on the job site.
I am now responsible for drawing up and implementing traffic control plans for projects needing traffic switches and detouring. These plans ensure safety on the job site for not only the construction workers, but for civilians as well. For example, ABCI needed to grind and groove a road before project completion over a bridge. Preparation required closing a two lane highway down to one lane. The lane closure extended for approximately two miles. The tedious work of grooving, required a man operating a machine alongside the oncoming traffic lane. In order to secure safety on site, two attenuator trucks and numerous traffic channeling devices needed to be precisely positioned. Every 40 feet a channeling device was placed to direct traffic. Signage and message boards also played a critical part in the traffic safety of this task. These signs provided adequate notice to the 75 mph traffic. Speeds were reduced by 50 mph to guarantee safety for both construction workers and drivers. This is one of the many examples of the traffic plans I have been in charge of while interning at ABCI. Being involved in safety precautions first hand allows me to understand the importance of laws, regulations, and communication.
Now that I’ve experienced the front lines of the construction process along with its safety aspects, I have much more respect for the men and women of construction. The job of the average construction worker is an extremely demanding, rigorous, and a potentially dangerous career. And despite all the drawbacks, the people of construction always have the hearty ambition to keep society moving forward. The profession of construction is an honorable field to become a part of.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
I Build America (IBA) is a driving force behind the recruitment of the next generation of heavy construction and engineering. By encouraging the interest of upcoming contributors, the construction profession will prosper and excel leaps and bounds ahead of other industries. The efforts of IBA are extremely admirable in ensuring the young people of America have an opportunity to understand the value that construction adds to today’s society. The more people contributing to the profession the more advanced it will become.
IBA is a spokesperson for the everyday construction worker through the People of Construction program. This ambition shines a light on the accomplishments of the construction industry that is often overlooked. An immense amount of planning, preparations, and sacrifices are involved in the construction and implementation of the infrastructures used in everyday life. The People of Construction program brings awareness to all the hard work performed by construction employees. I am inspired by the movement and recognition IBA brings to America’s finest construction workers. By illustrating the personal stories of individual construction workers, IBA gives them the acknowledgement and gratitude they’ve always deserved. By putting a face to the men working on the side of road, this initiative will hopefully inspire drivers to exercise caution when driving in construction zones.
Through their annual Impact Awards, IBA demonstrates their advocacy for a more safe, efficient, and enjoyable America. This award honors the business that design and execute the construction projects that have had a deep impact on our everyday lives all across the country. The Impact Awards demonstrate the deep appreciation for the hard work and determination of the men and women of construction. The majority of the population is unaware of how beneficial these projects really are to society and the Impact Award is a way of bringing that well deserved awareness.
Personally, I have an incredible respect for the movement encouraged by IBA to better the construction industry. As an intern, it is humbling to see how IBA acknowledges even the interns of the construction industry through their scholarship programs. IBA reaches out to all different aspects of the construction profession. Their commendable devotion to construction truly makes a difference in how the field is perceived by the general public.