School: University of Wisconsin-Platteville
Major: Civil Engineering
Company: J.F. Brennan
Internship from May 26, 2015 — August 26, 2016
My name is Wyatt Eaton and I’m a Civil Engineering major with an emphasis in Construction at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. This is my third internship overall but my second working for J.F. Brennan a Marine Construction contractor out of La Crosse, WI. I chose to do an internship in construction because of my extended interest in design and construction methods employed to build or repair structures. I have a particular interest in working on dams which one of the main areas of expertise at J.F. Brennan.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
My internship started out the way most do, sorting and organizing files, taking pictures, and mailing documents. I soon began asking the Project Manager for additional responsibilities and asking questions about things relating to construction/design and contracts. Long story short it got to the point where I was doing all the project related tasks including but not limited to daily reports, submittals, progress meetings, and making field decisions when the Project Manager was gone. There were times the Project Manager would be gone 3-5 days at a time and he trusted me to take care of things and answer any questions from the crew. During my exit interview it was evident that my performance had impressed a few people within the company and I was offered a full-time position after graduation. I learned way more during this internship than I ever expected to and it was all thanks to the people I worked with who took the time to teach me.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
I learned many valuable skills during my internship but I think the most valuable thing I learned was communication skills. Being on the job I had to interact with co-workers, clients, subcontractors, and vendors; I was put in a few situations where I was uncomfortable but as a result of being confronted with those situations I became more comfortable and was able to communicate better. Having the ability to communicate well with others is a positive trait that will be helpful in any situation life may present.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
Every morning, prior to starting the work day, I participated in the onsite safety meeting led by our SSHO. During these meetings we identified potential hazards relating to the days work activities and made sure everyone was on the same page as to prevent any mishaps. We also did a “Toolbox Topic” which identified a job related safety concern and presented some statistics then went over how to mitigate the issue. Hearing about some of the incidents that happen in construction really opened my eyes to how important it is for everyone to engage in job site safety responsibilities.
The job I was on involved painting tainter gates on a dam in confined spaces, so during painting operations it was required that we regulate and record VOC and CO levels six times a day. These levels were recorded on the confined space entry form. It was my responsibility, when our SSHO was gone or busy, to perform these routine checks and record VOC and CO levels as well as ensure the air monitor was functioning properly.
My main involvement was in QC management, I attended a 2-day Construction Quality Management for Contractors (CQMC) class for the Army Corps of Engineers where I attained certification to fill in as the QC manager in absence of the full-time QC manager (project manager). Regardless of whether I was filling in or not I assumed the responsibility of performing routine checks of our work and subcontractors work to ensure the work was completed in accordance with the contract requirements.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
The reason for the IBuildAmerica initiative is to interest more young people in pursuing engineering and construction related careers to accommodate our nations overwhelming obligation to repair old infrastructure and to keep up with the demand for new infrastructure as we continue to grow. I found the IBuildAmerica overview video very inspiring and after reading more about the movement it fortified the appreciation and respect I have for construction workers out in the field. The construction field is a very interesting and rewarding one if you’re willing to put in the work, I think IBuildAmerica is doing an excellent job of promoting that notion in their campaign for the next generation of construction.