Company: Granite Construction Company
School: University of South Florida
Major: Civil Engineering
Internship Dates: 5/14/2018 — 8/3/2018
Briefly, tell us about yourself and why you chose to do an internship in construction.
My name is Andrea Diaz, and I am a junior at the University of South Florida pursuing a major in Civil Engineering with a concentration in structures.
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, my passion in structures is probably rooted by the Old San Juan city structures, that intrigued me for their 16th century Spanish colonial architecture, which differed from the modern buildings around my neighborhood.
Another influence might be the fact that my father is a civil engineer. Years ago, I dreamed of holding those rolls of paper he brought home and understanding them. My brother must have felt the same way since he majored in civil engineering as well. However, when it came time to apply to college I decided to rebel from the family career path and chose computer engineering as my major.
My freshmen year exposed me to my first programming classes which made me realize that computer engineering was not the right career choice for me. That summer, between my freshmen and junior year, an HR internship brought me to I-4 Ultimate project. This internship gave me the opportunity to become familiar with the construction community by interviewing and hiring people for that project. Witnessing the atmosphere around construction me realize there was no way out, construction ran in my blood, and it was my passion!
Therefore, when I returned to school I changed my major to civil engineering and haven’t looked back!
I am an active member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) student chapter at USF, and this past spring I had the opportunity to participate in the GeoWall Competition at the Southeast Regional Conference. The GeoWall competition consist of designing and building a small-scale mechanically stabilized Earth (MSE) retaining wall that will hold sand loads. This was my first-hand experience of building a structure, which involved assembling the wall with a team in a given time frame. The moment we placed our final load, and the wall held together was the most satisfying feeling, and I knew this was something I wanted to do on a larger scale.
I chose an internship in construction because it would provide a unique opportunity to get valuable hands on experience in the field that I want to pursue a career. Working with diverse groups of people to complete meaningful projects, such as roads or buildings is something that inspires me to be a part of the construction industry. I couldn’t wait to graduate to get into this community and, therefore, this summer I interned with Granite Construction, one of the SGL joint venture partners, at the I-4 Ultimate Project. This is a $2.3 billion job that consists of a 21-mile makeover of the I-4 interstate. This internship was with the structure’s team at the Ivanhoe area which is approximately 4.9 miles long and includes 30 bridges, most of which are multi-phased. Working on this job was an incredibly rewarding experience, and I can’t wait to get back out on a job.
What results did you achieve on the internship and how did you exceed the company’s expectations for your role?
During my internship, field and project engineers assigned me tasks related to their areas of work.
The pile driving field engineer gave me several tasks among them were surveying, developing crane location plans, and quantity tracking. One of the field tasks consisted of shooting elevations on over 35 piles, this helped streamline the pile driving for the crews as it gave them a quick reference to look at and perform their cutoffs. The development of the crane location plans was comprised of conducting soil bearing tests to determine if any reinforcement was needed where the crane was to be placed. Then the gathered data was transferred to an excel spreadsheet, and a photo was marked up with the location where the crane would be placed. After gathering all other relevant information, the plan was submitted to the crane coordinator for approval and it got the green light. Another task was tracking pipe pile deliveries. This entailed submitting receiving reports and updating an internal tracking sheet which helped maintain the inventory of available piles and served as a backup for approving supplier invoices.
The structure field engineers tasked me with setting up the sensors used for mass concrete pours, as well as helping place them on a couple occasions. Similarly, I assisted in the installation of the new cooling system used for the mass concrete pours. This system expedited the wait time for concrete curing. I attended a deck pour and got to see how the Bidwell worked, and jumped at the opportunity, to the crew’s amusement, to step in and rake some of the concrete.
The lead structures engineer assigned me with completing takeoffs for the pile templates, approach slabs and rebar embedment in pedestals. I updated the quantity book to reflect my numbers for pile templates and separated the quantities for approach slabs into the different phases. These new quantities were important to update our forecasted costs and track the job’s progress more effectively. Verifying that the rebar embedment length in the bridge pedestals drawings met the minimum code requirement, if discrepancies were found then we could submit any necessary RFIs before they would affect the job’s schedule.
All the tasks assigned to me during this internship were executed with passion, integrity, and a deep desire to learn, but most importantly assisted the field engineers in succeeding in their different duties. The value added by my work was evident by the completion of the different milestones, for example, the successful concrete placement of the footings in Lake Ivanhoe. Overall, I exceeded Granite’s expectations by always being willing to step up for any task assigned. Whether it was data entry or field work, I was always eager to start working on those undertakings because I knew how important they were for the successful completion of the project. I was able to manage my time to make sure all high priority tasks were completed before any deadlines. By working hard, completing all tasks, and taking pride in my work I was able to exceed the expectations set for my role.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
Although I grew up with a father in the construction industry, I will admit on my first day I had very little of the construction terminology down. However, I quickly realized everyone was eager to explain what everything was. On my first day, I was taken to see a bridge deck that was getting prepped for a pour. The field engineer gave a full explanation of all the parts of a bridge from the footings, to the columns, to the beam caps, to the girders, and up to the SIP (stay in place) deck pans. These terminology sessions were common during the summer, and everyone instilled their knowledge to me. I gained a lot of practical knowledge; however, I also learned some valuable lessons.
The importance of team work and how necessary it is for achieving positive results is something that was emphasized in my internship. Realizing your role in the team, and how you are helping advance the completion of the project is vital in maintaining a good dynamic between coworkers. The team is working towards the same goal and it necessary for everyone to be committed to their part, but also to help others complete their work.
The most valuable lesson was the importance of good communication, something I will carry with me during my life; both skills are vital at the field and office. These foster good safety practices, meeting deadlines and proper coordination so that tasks occur when they need to happen. Good communication was depicted in the power of a good conversation, those where I made sure to be listening and asking questions as this proved to be the best way to learn. I spent a lot of time at the field, there I loved talking to the field staff about what they were doing, as I found it that the best way to learn was to have the professionals show me. For example, the day I was raking concrete on the deck pour, it was pointed out to me that I was doing it incorrectly, the guys proceeded to show me how to improve my technique and assured me they had all struggled on their first pour. Maintaining open communication with everyone I met was one of the most rewarding things I did, since it allowed me to learn form the people around me.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
The first thing I did before starting my internship was attend safety orientation. All employees and subcontractors are required to attend this safety orientation and sets a precedent of how important safety is on our job.
Moreover, I was able to join the Safety Committee for my area and attended the monthly meetings. This meeting is led by our safety manager and is an opportunity to meet with some craft personnel, discuss the months incidents and ways they believe we can improve safety practices. By having open discussions with members of different crews we can communicate why certain incidents occurred and work on preventing it, instead of hiding incidents this creates an open relationship that is focused on improving safety. This is a great way to get feedback from the people who are actually doing the work to see how we can improve safety practices on the site.
Additionally, I attended the Safety Stand Downs, this is a monthly meeting where all area personnel gather and discuss any new hazards and ways to improve safety around the site. Having everyone present improves the communication between all the people working on the site and helps everyone understand the dangers they are faced with, but also serves as reassurance that there are others there looking out for them.
On the quality side, I was tasked with setting up sensors for mass concrete pours, assisted in their installations and completed the final report. Monitoring the concrete temperatures during the curing period is vital in confirming the structural integrity of the structure. The final report serves as confirmation that the finished product complies with the specifications.
During my internship I realized the importance of quality control in assuring the integrity of what we are building. Moreover, I realized why I love construction, the sense of community, which is prevalent when it comes down to what our priority is, keeping each other safe.
Safety is the most important thing on our project and everyone is encouraged to play an active role in it. Whether I was picking up a fallen cone or reminding someone to wear their gloves I knew that every small action could prevent an accident. By working on safety, we work on creating a secure work environment that ensures that everyone goes home to their families and I was honored to be a part of that.
After reviewing www.ibuildamerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you.
I Build America (IBA) gets me excited about working in construction in the United States. I build America does a great job of highlighting why I want to work in construction, the people. It gives a platform to men and women to talk about their achievements in construction. It serves as a window into the atmosphere of construction and showcases all the different opportunities within the field. Additionally, I Build America is a platform that allows the public to appreciate all the hard work that goes into construction. Construction is a dangerous industry; however, the job still needs to get done and there are men and women working hard everyday building homes, schools, hospitals, airports, and roads.
As a young person coming into construction, IBA helps me see that the opportunities within the field are endless. I feel honored to have been able to have worked alongside, people who have sacrificed their lives to building America. I am glad that IBA is working to make sure that people who work in construction are getting the recognition they deserve.
Construction is the foundation for America, and I Build America is working to make sure new generation appreciate the opportunities within the field.
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