School: Minnesota State University, Mankato
Major: Construction Management
Company: Ames Construction, Inc
Internship from May 23, 2016 — August 13, 2016
My name is Shane Heller and I have been involved in construction for about 9 years. My construction journey began back in high school while working for my dad’s company building homes. After my first year in college I felt lost as far as what I wanted to do with my life. My dad recommended that I take some time off and work. I was lucky enough to get a job as a laborer building bridges with Minnowa Construction. I would go on to build bridges for 4 more years, including working on the I-90 Dresbach Interchange with Ames Construction which will be completed this fall. In the fall of 2014, I made the decision to go back to college and get a degree in Construction Management. I made this decision after talking with some of the project engineers and managers on the Dresbach job. I enjoyed my time in the field, but I felt that the longer I waited to go back the harder it would be. I returned to Minnesota State University, Mankato with a greater appreciation of why I was going to school. As a result my GPA currently stands at a 3.72. My degree required me to do an internship as a requirement to graduate. I interviewed with several companies, but ended up deciding on coming back to Ames, because I felt it was going to give me the best experience this summer. After my experience working for Ames Construction on their Metro bridge and grading projects, I am confident that I made the right decision. My knowledge and understanding of highway/heavy construction has grown immensely. I think the internship should remain a requirement in the degree, because I learned more in these 12 weeks than any other part of my post-secondary education. I look forward to building off of this experience in my future career in this industry.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
This internship helped me improve in many areas and has helped me prepare for a career in this industry. I have improved in my oral, written, and interpersonal communication skills. I was constantly talking to people, sending emails, or interacting with other professionals. It helped me expand my understanding of project management responsibilities by putting together transmittal’s, attending owners meetings, and getting plans and information to the forman. I improved my understanding of job costing by reviewing project budgets, putting together cost reports, and coding invoices to the correct cost codes. I improved my ability to do quantity take-offs. I improved my understanding of contract documents by reviewing plans and specifications for the project. I also spent time reviewing the MNDOT Standard Specifications book. I improved my knowledge of scheduling by updating the look-ahead schedule each week and presenting it at the MNDOT meetings. I also was involved in talks about the scheduling logistics. I enhanced my skills in Microsoft Office (particularly Excel) and Bluebeam. There were many
spreadsheets utilized, I created pdf’s, and marked up plans with Bluebeam. I gained experience in the company’s safety practices while creating the critical lift plans. I also helped monitor a worker that overheated one day and gained experience in how to handle a situation like that. The experience overall helped me become a better professional and showed me how to represent myself as a professional in this industry. I was able to take on more and more responsibility throughout the internship and I feel like I produce timely and high quality work.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
One think I took away from this internship was how important it is to have good communication with everyone involve in the project. There is so much coordination that must happen in order to make a project successful. I was personally involved in coordinating the rebar deliveries for one of the jobs as well as all of the suppliers involved in the girder erection. The project I was involved in this summer had 110 calendar day limit for the road closure and any delays due to lack of communication would have been inexcusable. One instance happened before a holiday weekend where a crew was not going to work the Friday before the 4th of July. The forman didn’t communicate with the office that the crew wasn’t going to work and the office had scheduled a load of rebar that needed to be unloaded. It got resolved fairly easy, but it showed me the important of coordination between the field and the office. It’s a two way street. I also think doing a good job of supporting your co-workers is important. The guys in the field need to be given information and help with getting supplies other items on to the jobsite. In turn the guys in the office need information about what is going on in the field, schedule updates, and help tracking things like extra work. It’s shown me that it’s important to establish good relationships and do what I can to help when it’s needed.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
I was involved in safety during my internship by putting together the critical lift plans for the girder erections on two different jobs. The critical lift plan was an extensive document that included a narrative of the lift plan, key personal, equipment, traffic control, crane data, load calculations, crane capacity, rigging, pre-lift checklist, carne charts, a lift drawing, copies of the operator’s NCCCO certifications, calculating the boom point elevation vs. lifting height, girder height, and rigging height, girder shop drawings, a map displaying the traffic control plan, and rigging specifications. There was a lot to coordinate with this in terms of getting information about what rigging would be used, the length of boom in the crane (would it need to be reduced), what operators would be involved, when would the girders be scheduled to arrive, and more. I also found out while putting this together that things can change the day before and even the day that the critical lift is executed. During my first plan the crane mechanic decide to leave the whip line and head-ache ball on which was not accounted for in the calculations. The day of the pick I was told to go over the plan with the operators, superintendent, and ironworkers and answer questions. It was a great experience and something I learned a lot from. The second plan I made went together much quicker. I think that not only the critical lift plan, but my whole internship has shown me how much pre-planning goes into a project before the workers get to an activity. It has also shown me that no matter how well you plan things out, things will change and you will have to adapt. I was also made the Quality Controller for the curing compound that we sprayed on the footings and abutments. The cure allowed us to strip the forms early, but MNDOT required us to inspect the cured areas during the concrete cure time. It was my responsibility to keep a quality control log that showed when areas were cured and when inspections were made.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
I Build America is something that I take great pride in. Growing up my dad had his own business building homes and businesses for other people. I was constantly around tools and going to jobs he was working on. I didn’t fully appreciate what he was doing back then, but I now see the impact he made on other people’s lives. Now that I am in the construction industry I can see that the importance of the work my co-workers and myself do each day. I look back at my time as a laborer and see that I wasn’t just working for a paycheck, but to help complete a project that made other people’s lives better. My future in this industry will also be a part of making people’s lives better. The construction industry is one of the most dangerous industries in the world and the men and women that work in it deserve to take pride in what they do.