School: Texas A&M University
Major: Construction Engineering and Management
Company: Austin Bridge and Road
Internship from May 23, 2016 — August 12, 2016
My name is Rinu Abraham. I am an international student from India, pursuing my Masters education in Construction Engineering and Management at Texas A&M University.
The Pyramids of Giza and the Taj Mahal ignited my passion for construction from a very young age. The construction and endurance of these majestic tributes to long gone pharaohs and queens was very intriguing and I strove to understand them as best as I could. Throughout my school days, I read about many more marvelous structures like the Empire State building and the Golden Gate Bridge and I dreamt of building such marvels one day as a civil engineer.
After completing my Bachelors in Civil Engineering in India, I worked in the construction industry for two years. At my first job in Civil Maintenance in Gujarat (India), I was the first woman on-site engineer with no knowledge of the local language. It was a daunting task for me to communicate and lead my local project crew. I learnt the necessity of empathy and team work during that time which guided me in successfully completing my projects and more importantly establishing a rapport with my team. Though it was a trying time I enjoyed the challenge immensely.got the opportunity to work on a Metro Rail project. Together with my past internship with the Indian Railways, this job reinforced my passion for working in the Transportation sector of construction and for Construction Management.
As a Texas A&M University graduate, I aim to learn the academic intricacies of being a future Construction Manager with knowledge about different construction practices and ideas from around the world. Last summer I was fortunate to intern with Austin Bridge and Road from May to August 2016. It was the perfect opportunity for me to continue my passion for road and bridge construction and to understand how construction in the United States differs from my experience in India. Furthermore, it gave me the chance to correlate what I had learnt in academics with the needs of the construction industry.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
My internship experience at Austin Bridge and Road gave me the opportunity to learn the Estimation process for Highway and Bridge projects. It was very exciting to learn and subsequently contribute to several pre-bid estimates and to work alongside experienced engineers who were always enthusiastic to share their knowledge and experience. During my internship, I learned new two new software, Agtek and Bluebeam and I got the chance to witness how planning and estimation is reflected on site work. Most importantly it gave me the opportunity to meet several wonderful people and observe the quality work Austin performs.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
It was an important lesson for me to see how Austin employees from different departments collaborated during the different stages of a project. It was remarkable that estimators spent considerable time meeting with project managers during the pre-bid stages assessing the each potential bid in detail, discussing probable difficulties and advantages of a project besides the costs and quantities. The fantastic team spirit at Austin Bridge and Road was truly remarkable.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
Throughout my internship, my supervisors always stressed on precision. Working with the estimation department, I was always encouraged to deliver precise and quality work. If a particular assignment or estimate could be made better, I was stimulated to do it better.
Safety was stressed on from the very first day at Austin Bridge and Road. Besides the OSHA 10 hour safety training, my supervisors conveyed the importance of safe practices even in office. During my site visits, it was clear to me that employees from laborers to Executives at Austin Bridge and Road practiced safety in all aspects, and no compromise on quality was tolerated.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
I Build America means to me what every construction employee feels most proud about; to build something new where there was nothing before, to improve an existing structure and subsequently improve the lives of people in a society, country and the World.
Many a time people only see the grit and the grime in construction work, not recognizing the pride in improving quality of life. Throughout my career I have found it troubling that there are so few women civil engineers in the construction industry. Often this is because people are unable to perceive the value of construction work and take pride in it. I believe with movements such as I Build America, more people can be encouraged to join the industry and for those who are already in it to take pride in the work they do.