School: Florida State College at Jacksonville
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Company: Petticoat-Schmitt Civil Contractors
Internship from February 1, 2016 —
With a desired future in mechanical engineering, I chose to follow an internship in construction to help grow my knowledge of the real world needs of this ever-changing industry. A construction internship has helped to build a solid foundation on which i can stand while I complete my degree, and also allows me to apply the skills taught in the classroom to real-life experiences. While growth of civil construction was projected at 9 percent from 2015 to 2016, an urge in the second-half of the year pushed it to 13 percent creating a steady work flow and a great starting-point for young millennials to enter the construction trade(s). My internship is with a safety-oriented civil contractor in Northeast Florida where we construct a number of both public and private projects. Being with a company that has an emphasis on safety is very important to me. Construction is considered one of the most dangerous professions although I believe almost every construction accident can be prevented. Proper equipment training and usage can help to decrease the risk of an injury due to carelessness or incompetency.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
With my internship I expected to learn how to build our country’s new infrastructure as the aging roadways and bridges are looking to be improved or replaced and I have done just that. After spending countless hours studying the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Design Standards and the FDOT Specifications for Road and Bridge Construction, I have been able to effectively compose and review official submittals, write work plans and schedules, and attend progress meeting to discuss the state of the project and how we can complete it safely and early. My company expected high-quality work from me as I had already been an employee since graduation from high school. Working as a mechanic I was able to learn about the equipment and how each individual piece was used to perform while also showcasing my high work ethic which was immediately noticed by the upper management including the company president. 6 months to the day after my employment began with Petticoat-Schmitt Civil Contractors I was offered an internship to work with the public projects as an Intern Field Engineer which has led to me being the main point of contact for 2 projects that total approximately 10 million dollars of work for my company. Being a trusted team member is important and as a young intern, I have been recognized as a dependable employee with high work ethics and the will power to sit down and learn, or get out there and make it work.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
In my internship, I learned multiple life skills that would help to shape my life for the better. With life comes responsibility and during my internship I was responsible for progress billings, submittals, budgeting, and safety. As a team member, I was expected to show up on time, be a good team player, and do everything I did to the best of my abilities and by doing this, I became a trusted team member that could be relied on to answer the call no matter the situation. From multiple co-workers, I have heard that I’m always the smiling face that they can count on even when times are their roughest. I pride myself on being a hard working individual and my internship has helped me to understand just how much it pays off to be such a hard worker. Working hard earned me my first job as a mechanic and showing even higher work ethic in that position showed the company officers that I was the type of employee who could really help to grow our company to be great. Through my internship, I expanded on my knowledge of construction techniques, estimations, and practices that I will be able to implement in the future to better the field of infrastructure repair and improvement. I have learned valuable life skills that I will always remember as they have impacted my life in unimaginable ways.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
At my company, we pride ourselves on being one of the safest contractors in the nation, winning the 2009 recipient of the National Utility Contractors Association NUCA William H. Feather Award for meritorious achievement in construction safety with multiple honorable mention awards. I was able to compare our safety program to those of other contractors in our area by speaking with friends who had gotten jobs working as laborers for other companies and talking with fellow employees about their perspective of our program compared to others. The safety program at Petticoat-Schmitt (PSCC) is phenomenal and it should be everywhere. The protection of your employees is the number one priority. No employee’s means no work completed. PSCC has every employee complete an eight hour, competent-person, training course in the first week of their employment. After completing this course, every employee should be well educated on how to safely perform most tasks on any utility construction site. Through this course, I was able to learn that the quality of the work-site should be kept high in order to prevent accidents or injuries. This can be done by providing the crew’s with the correct Personal Protective Equipment and exactly what tools they need for the job. The smallest things can lead to a quality workplace, for example, full brim hard hats to keep ears from being sunburned and small electrolyte packets to replenish nutrients on hot days. Small details like this will help employees to be better prepared and protected while working what could be considered one of the world’s most dangerous professions. My involvement on safety was to keep a sharp eye on the job and help to inform the workers on ways that they could lower risks and perform some work easier. This would help to save the company time and money that would otherwise be used for compensation.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
After reviewing I Build America I was able to better understand just how important our trade is to the nation. Without improved infrastructure, America would still be running on the same, old, de-laminating asphalt highways that were built in decades passed. Resurfacing and drainage improvements are a mainstay in our nation for travel as we develop more technology for automobiles and better logistics for transport by tractor trailer. Improved highway surfaces, lighting, interchanges, and signage have helped to make every roadway safer by providing less confusion and less chances to make a deadly mistake on the road. I Build America also taught me that wastewater treatment plants and their rehabilitation are some of the most important aspects of modern construction as clean water supplies are being tapped into more and more each day. The cleaning of sewage to produce clean, potable water is an impressive field and being able to work with a company who has a treatment-plant division will help to broaden my knowledge of every aspect of modern and future construction as I grow in my company. As we get more technological advances, GPS equipment and 3D modeling helps to ease the pain of building a project from scratch. These technological advances will attract younger employees who want to apply their knowledge of computers and their functions to build the next generation of infrastructure. New software such as HeavyJob and HeavyBid also helps the stress of everyday hour and quantity tracking on jobsites no matter how spread out they are. I Build America introduced me to a number of applications, software’s, and upcoming ideas that I can introduce to the officers of Petticoat-Schmitt in order to enhance the workmanship of the company whereas to create a quality product for both the public and private divisions of construction.