School: Virginia Tech
Major: Construction Engineering and Managament
Company: Hoar Construction
Internship from May 23, 2016 — August 5, 2016
I am Kyle Coyne and I am fortunate enough to say I chose the right career path; construction. Growing up I always had enjoyed building many things. Whether it was building stick forts in the woods or playing with my Legos, I just always enjoyed building something. I enjoy seeing things grow from the bottom up. Which is why I love the career path I am choosing in construction because the construction industry is constantly changing. I like to think my path to the construction industry was a little bit different than most, mainly due to the fact that no one in my family has ever worked in the industry. My dad was enlisted in the United States Coast Guard and my mum was a nurse born and raised in Ireland. I am currently a Junior at Virginia Tech in the Construction Engineering and Management undergrad program. However, as much as I love Virginia Tech, I did not think I would actually go there until the spring of my senior year in high school. Instead, I had decided I would try and attend the U.S. Coast Guard Academy to earn a degree in Civil Engineering, mainly to help my parents financially as the service academy is tuition free. Fortunately, my parents sat me down and explained to me that they wanted to me to go to Virginia Tech because it would better prepare me for the world and to not worry about the costs. I finally agreed to go Virginia Tech, where it took me three semesters to get into the College of Engineering and thus lead me to Construction Engineering and Management. I am blessed to say that I do not regret that decision. My freshman year, I found myself talking to Hoar Construction, a general contractor, who would later give me an internship offer the following year. I chose to go into a construction internship because I barely had much experience in the industry and really wanted to see if I would like what I was doing. Boy, do I love what I am doing and the knowledge I have gained from one internship alone is incredible in my eyes.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
Since I did not have much experience in the construction industry going into this internship, I was open to doing pretty much any type of work. I would make sure I did not say no to a task/project someone had given me. Hoar Construction was great at exposing me to the construction industry and really getting me involved in all aspects. I worked with both Field Superintendents and Project Managers. The project I worked on was a luxury residential apartment split into two towers, one 15 stories the other 13, which were connected on levels one, two, and the tenth floor by a sky bridge. I learned how to create RFI’s (Request for Information), submittal packages, file for LEED credits, give safety orientations, check concrete embeds daily, and put together subcontractor bid proposals and contracts. I think Hoar was pleased with my role has I was able to save them several thousand dollars with various projects. Especially when it came to the subcontractor bid proposal and contract, I was able to mostly complete before finishing my internship. I like to think I did a good job during my internship, especially since Hoar Construction has asked me to come back this winter and the following summer.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
There are many things I have taken away from this internship but the most important thing I have gained is that I can build my own home and there will be many people in this industry willing to help out…for a price give or take. Working this internship as encouraged me to design and build my own home in the future, which will be a fun and big undertaking in my life. I know it will be a challenge because construction is not easy and takes a great amount of detail. I have a lot more respect for construction now that I have worked my first internship. Before I always thought if something needed to be built, why don’t they just go and build it. I realize now how childish that was and how construction is a hard and long process that does not happen overnight. I hope to take the knowledge I have learned and not just apply in a construction company I might be working for, but apply it to my own home and my own life.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
When it comes to safety, I do not like to mess around. That includes quality. Unfortunately, last summer in 2015 a terrible incident happened in Berkeley, California when a balcony had collapsed with a group of Irish students on it. Supposedly, due to the wood rotting because it was not pressure treated. My family had known some of the students as they were very close with my cousins so this was very sad lost in our lives. Although the investigation and trail case are still being conducted, from that day forward I realize just how important safety and quality control are. After I received my own safety orientation at the job site, in the next couple of weeks I was giving safety orientations to workers new to the job site. It feels good to reinforce safety concerns and point out a few things that even some people who have been working for years in construction never knew about. Along with safety orientations, I would perform one to two safety walks around the job site a week and make sure they were corrected as soon as possible. I learned that if someone was not following safety procedures, that you should not raise your voice or give out to them. Instead, pull the person to the side and teach the proper safety technique. I made sure they followed the safety rules after that, however, if I caught them not following the safety rules again, that called for a more serious handling. Along with safety, quality was another big part of my job as I was in charge of making sure the concrete subcontractor installed the proper embeds in the correct locations for other subcontractors before they poured the concrete. I realized just how important this process was because if an embed was missing it would cost upwards of $5,000 to fix the mistake in some cases. Although it may take more time and more money in the beginning to be safe and have a good quality control program, it pays off in the end as prices on the project can increase for many reasons without them.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
“I Build America” is a great initiative to get younger people like myself involved in construction and to grow more of a respect for construction in this country. America for a long time as had an amazing infrastructure, however, over the decades the infrastructure in some places in this country are simply failing. “I Build America” takes a different approach to this issue, by encouraging the community as a whole to invest and respect the construction industry rather than point of some of the issues. I think more schools should teach the importance of construction to their students and this initiative should be brought to light more by schools that teach courses similar to the construction industry. I think everybody should spend at least some part of their life in the construction and or military fields in this country so they understand just how important the sacrifices those families make are for their everyday living. I’m fortunate to say that I do get to help build America.