School: North Carolina State University
Major: Civil Engineering
Company: Granite Construction Company
Internship from May 10, 2016 — August 10, 2016
My name is Zachary Hayes and I am a rising senior in Civil Engineering at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. Ever since I was little I envisioned myself growing up and doing something construction related and I have always been fascinated with large scale construction and earthwork with large machinery. When looking for an internship, I wanted one in the construction field just to see if construction work was how I imagined it would be and to determine if construction was something I could see myself doing for the duration of my career. I stumbled on Granite’s internship position late in the school year after I had not had much luck with other companies, but I must say that I hit the jackpot. The position was for working on a large scale project (11 miles of highway reconstruction) in my hometown (I-40/440 Reconstruction, Raleigh, NC). I was thrilled that I would be able to not only work in the construction industry for the summer, but that I would also be working on such a large project that was of importance to me because of the highway’s significance in Raleigh.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
For the last 8 weeks of my internship, I worked as a fill in as the Field Quality Control Technician because the normal technician had to take long term leave due to major surgery. By doing this, I took a major weight off of the back of the Quality Control Manager who was having to do both his job and the job of the Field Tech. This was not something I expected to be doing, but I thoroughly enjoyed being in the field everyday with the paving crews and I learned a lot about asphalt, paving, management, and field engineering. It was also something the company did not expect me to do as an intern. However, I do think I exceeded their expectations by taking on this role and I believe that they were pleased with the results I gave them.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
I learned that I can definitely see myself in working in the construction industry as a career. It confirmed what I had previously thought in that I would enjoy what the construction industry has to offer me as an engineer who likes to work in the field work as well. Now that I am confident in knowing that I want to work in the construction industry, I can focus my attention to seeking out what I specifically want to do and search for those types of jobs. I think this is really positive for me because I won’t be heading into job searching without a clue for what I want to do.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
As previously stated, I was heavily involved in quality during my internship because I acted as the Field Quality Control Technician during the latter half of my time with Granite. Before the internship, quality was something I did not know much about. However, I’m glad I was able to have such experience with quality because I learned that it is a very important aspect to construction. My job as the acting Field Tech entailed me taking core samples of asphalt that had been laid and to check the density of the asphalt behind the rollers as the crews were paving. Taking the core samples is important in two ways. First, the samples show the height of the lift of asphalt and ensure that they are within the appropriate tolerance. This is important because asphalt that is too thin can result a lack in durability and asphalt that is too thick can cause the grade of the roadway to be too high and/or mess up superelevations. Second, the samples ensure that the asphalt density is within tolerance. Asphalt that is not compacted enough (<92% density) can result in lessened strength and durability and in turn will have to be milled up and repaved. Taking densities with a gauge as the crews are paving ensures that they are getting appropriate compaction and that rework will not have to be done.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
To me, I Build America means to take pride in the work that you do if you work in the construction industry and to respect the value that construction has on modern life here in America if you are a citizen. I believe that Americans often take the construction industry for granted and do not have the respect they should for the industry. Americans love the luxurious life they are able to live because of the construction industry but are often impatient and disrespectful of the construction process that must take place in order to have progress and maintain a society that can continue to be blessed with modern day luxuries. To me, it seems that I Build America is trying to 1. Encourage construction personnel to take pride in their work and teach them the importance their work has in America and 2. Educate Americans on the value of the construction industry on their individual lives and on the “life” of this nation.