School: Weber State
Major: Construction Management / Business Admin
Company: Granite Construction
Internship from April 11, 2016 — August 8, 2016
My name is Zach Schweinsberg, and I am studying construction management and business administration at Weber State. Over the last four years, I have also had the privilege of running mid-distance for the Weber State Track & Field program.
I am currently in my second internship at Granite Construction, a company specializing in heavy civil construction. I wanted to intern for Granite Construction in order to gain hands-on knowledge and work experience.
Last year during my first internship, I was placed on a hydro demolition, bridge rehab and full deck replacement at 300 N in Clearfield UT. During this job, we faced several unforeseen issues and, consequently, went through a million dollar change order with the hydro demo robots blowing through the deck completely.
In the spring of 2016, Granite contacted me about working on six different hydro demo deck replacement jobs on US Highway-40 between Park City and Heber City, Utah. This project was broken into two phases and was projected to last 129 days.
I was excited to tackle another hydro demo job opportunity this 2016 summer. Working on this project gave me the opportunity to become knowledgeable about hydro demo, which is increasingly Utah Department of Transportation’s chosen technique for demolition because of its major cost savings. Replacing the decks of these bridges would cost nearly $ 20 million, but because hydro demo allows us to reuse a large amount of the bridge materials the project will only cost approximately $3.5 million.
I take my internships very seriously because I put my name on the work that I do. I realize that Granite Construction has trusted me with more responsibilities than most interns, and I want to show them the investment they have made in me is worthwhile. I have done well at Granite. I value the work and the co-workers I have had the chance to learn from and form relationships with. As a result of my internships, Granite Construction has offered me a full-time job beginning in August.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
As a result of this summer’s job we had nearly a 10 percent margin. We were expected to do much better, but lost nearly $140,000 in unexpected curve balls such as not being able to dispose the 550,000 gallons of water used in the hydro demo process locally as planned. Because of my first internship with Granite, I was able to take on many more responsibilities this summer. I made submitting, paid estimates, prepared our weekly schedule / agenda and some request for information (RFI’s) ect. I helped with monthly forecasting and created change orders we did seven on this project. During the hydro demo process, I was made the night shift superintendent and ran an eight man crew while managing three different subcontractors.
Casey, the PM, and I implemented the use of an app called Fieldlens to this job. It is almost like a Facebook for construction jobs. It helped us track anything related to the project. Because it encouraged high levels of communication, I believe we were able to save money in not only material and equipment tracking, but also time spent on chasing down items that had been misplaced or lost.
I worked closely with the superintendent in scheduling the subs and ordering materials. Casey also gave me the opportunity to lead our weekly partnering meetings with UDOT and the PI group. There is a long list of items I did or was a part of this summer at Granite but these were the major components. My responsibilities allowed me to interact with area managers, operation managers and the vice president of Granite Construction Utah Operations who all gave me positive feedback on my performance at the company this summer.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
One of my goals is to learn something new every day that I am alive. This project was not only great for applying old skills I had used in the previous job, but it pushed me to continually learn new skills both in the field and on the business side. Something that I have found while working here is the value of strong communication and people skills. I am not the most “book smart” individual and still have a lot to learn, but I have learned that I am able to excel much quicker and accomplish far more by having a positive attitude and by building relationships with co-workers. I have had subs go the extra mile for me when I needed something done because of positive relationship. I think that relationship building is a large part of this business and it is something that is not valued enough. Working with many different individuals this summer taught me to observe how people think and act in order to work best with them. By learning from the mistakes and accomplishments of the individuals around me, I believe I can become a very effective construction project manager as well as being a respected individual. Wherever I go in life, I will take what I have learned from the people I have worked with this summer.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
When I was given an opportunity to run crews I would hold a safety meeting before the start of shift. I implemented the work plans I made into a job hazard analysis document and would look at the scope of work before the start of shift. In the JHA, I had ideas of some things that we could be cautious of for that particular shift. After sharing those ideas, I would also encourage the field workers to share any thoughts or ideas they had. This helped everyone to think about what they would be doing and how to accomplish it in the safest and most efficient manner.
Granite is one of the higher end (expensive) heavy civil general contractors in Utah, but one of the things that we always promise is quality. One example of this occurred during the first phase of the project. We had just finished pouring the first bridge. Overall it was good and road much better than other bridges around, but there was a small dip where the deck and approach slab would meet the PCC panels on the highway. It was enough to notice and our area manager explained why quality was so important. We worked hard with the survey department to make adjustments in the profiling for the warped panels and were able to make some very good improvements on the next five bridge pours. We also went back and ground the PCC panels for free in order to improve the quality for the ride of the bridge. This summer taught me that product quality and safety are far more important than I had originally anticipated.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
I Build America is a promotional tool for the construction industry in general and is not centered on any type of construction. The organization does an excellent job promoting the industry and bringing to light the importance of the industry in building our nation’s future. Much of my life I was aware that many people had a bad perception of the construction industry because it typically attracts a rougher crowd. Americans typically don’t notice how their lives intersect each and every day with the construction industry and that our nation’s safety, infrastructure, economy and quality of life would not be possible without the construction industry. I Build America works to reinforce the construction community and to demonstrate how the construction industry and the work we accomplish matters. I liked the “Articles” tab on the page because it reinforced their motto with ideas and helpful information in the current industry. Not only does I Build America give the current workers in the industry more value attainment, they also did a great job at promoting the industry towards the upcoming and younger generation in a positive way.