School: University of Maine
Major: Civil Engineering with a minor in Construction Management
Company: Cianbro Corporation
Internship from May 31, 2016 — August 10, 2016
My name is Michelle Hale and I am a second year student at the University of Maine. I am studying Civil Engineering with a minor in Construction Management. My interest in the construction industry dates back to my third year of high school. I was enrolled in a two-year vocational program at Region 9 School of Applied Technology. From the construction program I gained knowledge about the residential construction industry, obtained my 10-hour OSHA card and my NCCER Core Curriculum certificate. This program also requires each student to partake in a job shadow related to the construction industry before completing the program. This is where I found the opportunity to job shadow the Assistant Engineer on the Martin Memorial Bridge Replacement project in Rumford Point, Maine. That cloudy and cold day in April was the day I realized that I wanted to pursue a career in the construction industry. Upon graduation I enrolled in the University of Maine to study Civil Engineering with a minor in Construction Management. By signing up for the University’s career center updates, I was notified that Cianbro Corporation was seeking out interns within the construction industry. Civil Engineering and Construction Management students were encouraged to apply. Once I signed up for an interview time I met with a recruiter and was given an official offer in January of 2016. During my conversation with the recruiter I mentioned that my “dream” summer would be to participate in a large-scale bridge project. That wish was granted. I was blessed with the opportunity to fill a role as a project engineer on the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge Replacement project in Portsmouth, NH.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
During my time at the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge Replacement project I was placed in the Tower Precast Yard under the project engineer. After my first two weeks, Matt, the gentleman I was mentored by, moved to another phase of the job site. Matt instilled full trust in me to not only run the Tower Precast Yard, but I also adopted the Tower Stair crew. In the Tower Precast Yard the crew was continuing production of concrete segments to created the four lift span towers for this moveable span bridge. Once the tower segments were cast, cured and moved from the casting forms to the yard, the Tower Stair crew would begin installing the galvanized stair system that went to the top of each tower. As a result of my time in the Precast Yard, the production factor for the yard increased each month. For the first time since the project began, the Precast Yard reached the scheduled quantity of segments completed by the end of the summer. Also, the Tower Stair crew was able to complete the segments needed to begin stacking weeks before the segments needed to completed. This allowed them to continue production ahead of schedule and gave the inspectors the convenience of inspecting the segments on the ground, rather than on the barge in the middle of the Piscataqua River. I will be returning to the bridge project during my month long break in December to further assist Cianbro with the construction of the bridge on the river.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
Once my mentor left the Precast Yard after the first two weeks into my first internship, I was nervous. I was nervous that I would not have the capabilities to continue production of not just one, but two separate crews at nineteen years old. By reminiscing about the summer, this was not the case. I was able to not only continue, but also improve production of the Precast Yard and develop a successful crew from the beginning. I gained valuable experience that will make me more employable and more successful in my future. I quickly learned project management skills. I learned how to order consumable materials needed to continue production and to look ahead at the schedule to see what the crew may need three weeks from now. I learned how to set up concrete placements and communicate with professionals from other companies. This developed my organization skills further that will not only benefit me in school, but in my future career. I was not only learning about the procedure and operations of the Precast Yard, but I gained irreplaceable leadership skills. I had two foremen, one supervisor and 10+ crew members looking to me as a leader and relying on me to make the connection for them between the printed plans and the reality of the finished product. All while reporting to a senior project engineer, senior project manager, project superintendent and other project and field engineers about where the Precast Yard was currently within the timeline of production, and where we were headed next.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
The Sarah Mildred Long Bridge Replacement project puts safety as a #1 priority. There has been no record of a recordable injury since the beginning of the project. As project engineer, it is part of my job to ensure the crew is not only continuing production at a reasonable rate, but to do so safely. The Precast Yard has a mentality of watching out for each other. If a crew member was doing a task unsafely, they wouldn’t wait for the safety supervisor or I to put a stop to it. Safety was everyone’s responsibility. When the Tower Stair crew received handrails for installation, the outside handrail had no mid-rail present. Although the Maine DOT didn’t require one since there would be a chain link fence through out each tower, it was a safety concern for our company. Without a mid-rail, the crew members would need a tie-off point once they reached a height of six feet. I contacted the safety supervisor and we came up with the solution to install temporary mid-rail with 2×4 wood boards and secure them with u-bolts, so that no tie-off was required.
Along with safety, I assisted the Quality Control engineer with monitoring the quality of the concrete that was placed. Upon the arrival of each concrete truck, we would test the concrete for the entrained air percentage, slump and take temperature readings. If the concrete was not within specifications, we would reject the truck. Once the placement was complete, we would create cylinders and allow them to cure overnight. The next morning we would meet at the on-site break location and analyze the concrete cylinders at the breaking point. The main factor was the strength of the concrete. The cylinder had to show that the concrete mix was above 1500 pounds per square inch (psi) in order to strip off the forms, and 2500 psi to lift and relocate the segment. To ensure the concrete would reach this strength, water-curing blankets were placed on top of the segment overnight to keep water available so the hydration process could continue through the night.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
I Build America emphasizes on showing how construction impacts our everyday life. It is also about recruiting young people to the construction industry. I Build America represents the reason why I became interested in the construction field. This is a career that I know, without a doubt, makes a difference in every day life. Without construction, we would have no water to drink, no bridges to drive over to get where we need to go, no houses to live in, no hospitals to take care of our sick family members and no schools to educate the upcoming generation. The construction industry is the main reason why our society has shaped into what it is today. Along with instilling pride in the hard working men and women who dedicate their lives to the construction industry, the industry is in need of new members. As workers start to retire, new workers need to fill their shoes in order to keep the industry alive. With the incoming of a new generation, come new ideas, new methods of production and a new insight to create innovation within the industry.