School: University of South Carolina
Major: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Company: Tutor Perini
Internship from May 31, 2016 — August 5, 2016
My name is Zach Watkin and I am currently in my junior year at the University of South Carolina studying Civil Engineering. Ever since I was a child I had an obsession with construction equipment. I always loved watching the Excavators and End Dumps building across the street from me while I was a child. I was just mesmerized by the size, power and efficiency of these vehicles. Fast forward about ten year to high school, my teacher for my auto-cad class took us out to a site to see how a bridge was ACTUALLY constructed. While being out on the site, seeing the intensity of the environment, the efficiency and how much thought has to go into every process, I knew that construction would be my passion. So while at USC, I did not see many internship opportunities in field construction. Until I saw an opportunity with Cherry Hill Construction or now known as Tutor Perini Civil Eat. I immediately knew that this would be the chance for me. So I hopped in my car drove all night from Columbia to Maryland for an interview. I was hired the next week and never looked back.
What results did you achieve on the internship, and how did you exceed the company's expectations for your role?
During my internship, I was looking mainly to learn as much as I can about the construction industry because prior to this past summer I had no knowledge of construction, aside from helping my ad redo the kitchen once. I had learned so many things, about how important each step of building a highway is, more specific things like pile driving, sewage and installing RCP piping and basic facts about construction. But, one of the most important things I learned was how to deal with the other workers in that industry. I learned how to deal with superintendents, foremen, laborers and even project executives. Then taking that one step further, I learned how to get my crews to respect me, which I feel is such an important task to accomplish.
I feel I exceed my companies expectations because I did not want to be considered just another intern on a project. I wanted to be an additional engineer on the project. I did that by not being afraid to ask questions, paying close attention to everything said by another worker, and demonstrating strong leadership skills. As a result, by the end of my internship I was basically in charge of the pipe installation, pile driving and helped out with MOT. So I feel that because I proved my usefulness, that I exceeded my companies expectations.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
This summer I learned a lot of things that will affect my life in the future in a positive way. The first being hard work. Before I start my internship I was living the life of a college student, sleeping in late, not taking advantage of my free time, etc… When I showed up the first day, one of the engineers told me, and this sticks with me to this day, the average engineers show up and work 7-5 every day. The above average engineers work about 6:30-5:30 everyday. Well right there I knew I wanted to be above the above average so everyday I woke up at 4 AM, drove an hour to the sight got there around 6 AM and worked till about 6:30 PM because I want to be the best. and I did that 5 -6 days a week. Through these long hours I learned what REALLY putting in time meant. The next value I learned in this internship is how to make your crews respect you and like you. I learned how to do this by advice from other foreman and supers. They told me the little things go a long way. Si on all the hot days I would always make sure to bring my crews and foremen ice cold jugs of water, or even running to the store and picking up gatorades for them and always trying to show that I cared about them and not just them making production. This is important because when your crews feel that you respect them and also care about them as people they perform better before you because the respect you and care about you. That is a value that I can take with me anywhere I go.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
I was very involved with safety on this project. The safety engineer taught me a lot about how crucial safety is on a project. With all this heavy machinery all around you, you really have to be cautious and cannot take it as a laughing matter because people can really get injured or even worse die. I was involved with safety by reporting any incidents that I saw, which ended up being about three of them, and also taking monthly safety walks with out safety engineer.
After reviewing www.IBuildAmerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you?
After I viewed this website, I feel that “Ibuildamerica.com is very important. It is important because everyone everyday either travels over some highway, uses some building or some other piece of infrastructure that was once built by people like us. And those people don’t really appreciate what we went through to make that way of life happen for them. So I feel it is good to have an organization out there that can help shine some light on our efforts and what we do everyday.