Company: Austin Bridge & Road
School: Texas A&M University
Major: Industrial Engineering
Internship Dates: 5/21/2018 — 8/24/2018
Briefly, tell us about yourself and why you chose to do an internship in construction.
My name is Harrison Hayworth and I am an industrial engineering student at Texas A&M University. I was born and raised Kansas City, Missouri up until I was recruited to play division 1 soccer for the University of Arkansas- Little Rock. It was at UA- Little Rock that I found my passion for construction through my dual civil and construction engineering degree program. This excitement for construction led me to intern for Austin Bridge and Road for the past two summers.
Through the engineering program at Little Rock, I developed a strong understanding and enthusiasm for process of construction through the extracurriculars I participated in. Being one of the eight sophomores to co-found the ASCE concrete canoe team at the university gave me a first hand opportunity to utilize the construction portion of my education at Little Rock. This is truly where my fascination for the industry was formed. I got to help lead, manage, and be a part of a team through the entirety of a construction project, and since then, I have known that this is what I want to spend my life doing.This project allowed me to catch my first glimpse of real life construction and work with the estimating, scheduling, testing and budgeting that was required to complete the hefty task from pre-construction phases to the usage thereafter. This project instilled a genuine appreciation of all of the intrinsic benefits the industry has to offer and it showed how even a small team can accomplish a daunting, seemingly impossible task with organized management, teamwork, and the work ethic to match.
Following this project, I spent the spring 2018 semester abroad to further diversify my industry knowledge through interning at Limah Design in Dubai, and MDS Civil Engineering Ltd. in the United Kingdom, I learned as much as I could about construction and what I wanted to do in the industry. Through daily hands on experience, I continued to learn as much as I could about this industry. Working as an Assistant Projects Manager for the firm in Dubai, I was able to help build malls, high rises, and other important structures to cater to the demands of the local clientele. While in England, I was able to work on residential developments to help counteract the rising housing crisis. This insightful spring gave me the chance to learn about the construction industry from many lenses, and this gave me the one of a kind perspective I have today. From then on, I have had one goal: to reconstruct the failing infrastructure here in the US.
After receiving my fifth concussion that devastatingly ended my soccer career, I transferred to Texas A&M, where I am now an industrial engineering student. Along with the civil and construction experience I have gained over the past three years, I have a new perspective from my industrial engineering education that specifically focuses on improving efficiency, optimizing systems, and implementing them to get the best results.
I chose a construction internship because I want to use my degree and my diverse knowledge of the industry in the field to close the gap between the engineer's plans and the contractors capabilities. Austin Bridge and Road allowed me to have the opportunity to build innovative, efficient and durable projects. With this company, I had the chance to be challenged by my peers daily, and to be encouraged to think, build, and work innovatively. I chose Austin Bridge and Road because I knew that I would be able to play an integral role in rebuilding America’s infrastructure, while maintaining the values that sold me on the company a full year earlier‒ safety, service, integrity and ownership.
What results did you achieve on the internship and how did you exceed the company’s expectations for your role?
Going into this summer’s internship, the expectations were different than my previous internships. Austin Bridge and Road knew me, my work ethic, and capabilities and they had high standards for me. My supervisors communicated with me thoroughly from the start what they wanted from me this summer and referenced a detailed matrix of responsibilities of a full-time project engineer. This communication upfront allowed me to realize the expectations they had for me on a daily basis and focus on meeting them early so I could pursue my personal goals for the internship.
My supervisors anticipated for me to perform like a full-time project engineer would on a daily basis, but I wanted to take this a step further. It was my goal to have the field knowledge to make innovative suggestions, and bring new quality ideas to the table that could be used to optimize the task that was at hand. I also wanted to build on the work that I was able to do the previous summer for the project to continue to get even further ahead of schedule.
In the first couple weeks of the internship, I was able to fulfill the responsibilities of a full-time project engineer and continue working to achieve my own goals. I focused on the details of my quantity tracking takeoffs for the project by comparing them to the estimates, and I was able to make a difference. I helped the project team change the costs based on the takeoffs to show more accurate numbers. In this process, I was able to find a handful of cases, due to my attention to detail, that would save the project time and money. Overall, this task helped predict the cost of the job correctly from the beginning so there would be minimal waste of time and money before the project was even started.
For example, this project has 42 bents and the amount of concrete used in the footer and seal slab could vary based on how the concrete was poured. One of the takeoffs I did was able to determine which process for the seal slab and footers would be the most cost effective and have the least waste all while being as time efficient as possible. This helped cut down on the project’s overall time, and have the item fall below the allocated budget for it before the project was even officially started.
Along with my quantity tracking, my attention to detail expanded beyond this into the organization of the project administration, and in the field. I organized the layout of the field yard to optimize the limited space we had by breaking down each part of the yard into a specific zone with the available square footage. This allowed us the freedom to hold the most material, equipment, and parking for employees all while being able to tell immediately if a piece of new equipment or material could fit in the yard.
I also restructured the supplier schedule and tracking so the project management team was aware of when supplies should be ordered for the project. This organization allowed the project management team to easily see if there were certain escalators on prices they needed to avoid to make the most of the budget for each item. By going above and beyond in regards to the fine details of each piece of what I did this summer, I was able to make a significant impact on the project and the management team and in turn achieve my personal goals for the summer.
What did you learn in this internship that will affect your life in a positive way?
Austin Bridge and Road has taught me that my voice matters, and it’s important to speak up and use my voice. This summer, I learned how incredibly important it is to communicate effectively in the field, as well as in the office. Communication keeps the entire team on the same page, and keeps the project moving forward efficiently. This summer, being a part of a team and being able to contribute as a full-time member taught me more about how to be a good team player and collaborate with coworkers to find the best solution.
I learned that the best solutions come from being discussed together as a team, rather than making decisions as individuals. When we were finding a way to get the second crane to the south side of the job, there were several people working on the problem at once, and several suggestions to achieve the goal. The ideas were flowing from the engineering department to the project management team, and back again. If this problem was not discussed and brainstormed as thoroughly as it was, a good solution would have been more difficult to find, and the job would have been delayed. This unique problem gave us the chance to work together to find the best course of action.
During this collaboration and communication, I found that innovation is able to flourish in this industry. This keeps pushing ideas and methods forward. I also learned that in order to think innovatively, sometimes it is crucial to take a step back, and try to see the whole picture and what the possible outcomes will mean for each part of the project. If the crane was not able to be crossed in a cost effective and timely manner, there would have been serious implications on multiple aspects of the job—working days would have been lost, unnecessary charging of unused equipment to the job would have occurred and the project would begin with a delay.
By stepping back and seeing the job as a big picture, it was easy to find the solution to cross the crane on the bridge with counter weights, instead of bringing in a barge to cross the crane by water. This method of crossing allowed us to cross in the most cost and time effective way, while allowing us to repair the the existing bridge in order to keep the public safe in the process.
My three internships this year have taught me so much about construction, but the lessons I learned in the summer internship were bigger than construction itself. I was given a unique opportunity to relocate several hours away from my family and friends, to work in a remote location that would further enrich my work experiences and benefit my future career. I’ll admit that I was hesitant at first, but this summer taught me to embrace this unfamiliar challenge, and make the most of it. By being put in that environment during the summer, I was motivated to learn more than I did the previous summer. I was the only intern on the job and was able to make an even bigger impact in the work I was doing, as well as in the community around me.
This summer, the bridge replacement that I was working on was more than a heavy civil construction project—it was a community construction project. Once completed, the bridge we were replacing will be able to withstand the harsh weather conditions and hurricanes the area has seen in the past. This double corkscrew bridge will not only benefit Austin Bridge and Road and my learning experience, but it will have a significantly positive impact on the community around it. The local residents will have access to their homes and belongings when this bridge is complete, and they will not be displaced for weeks on end like during the aftermath of Harvey. Because of this project, the community has been rejuvenated for the first time since hurricane Harvey hit it last season.
Construction was able to provide jobs for locals, give businesses more customers, and even help with the annual library fundraiser—due to the limited capabilities of the existing bridge, the fundraiser was not able to happen last year. But with this construction underway, this year’s library fundraiser was able to make up for last year’s loss. Next time severe weather hits the area, the community will be in the best position to handle the situation, and be as safe as possible. Austin Bridge and Road taught me that in the construction industry, we are not just building bridges and roads, but we are building the livelihoods and communities of all the people that use them.
How were you involved with safety and/or quality during your internship, and how did that change your perspective on construction?
During my first summer construction internship, I learned that everyone in the industry has a responsibility to look out for one another in the field. It is your right and responsibility to speak up if something seems unsafe, if you have questions, or if you are unsure of what is going on. No amount of work is worth risking the safety of someone in the field. Austin Bridge and Road stresses this to every employee in the company, from the full time employees down to the summer interns in their safety training. Austin Bridge and Road is not just a company—it’s a tight knit community, and they want every single person to be able to go home to their families at night. The fact that they care about our safety was emphasized from day one, and they wanted us to care about our own safety too.
Over the summer, I had the chance to work a night shift when we were doing emergency repairs on the existing bridge, and I was heavily involved with the safety that went on that night. The week leading up to the emergency repairs, I was in close contact with the Department of Transportation personnel in the tower that opens and closes the existing drawbridge. I made sure that there was not only one lock out method for the bridge apron the welders would be working under, but three different methods to ensure the subcontractors would be safe and comfortable working under these conditions.
From the safety meeting before any work was started that night, I took the time to get everyone out in the field on the same page, so there would be no accidents or miscommunications on what the plan was. The tower personnel, the welders, and the Austin Bridge and Road employees all were aware of the work being done and when the next shift of workers were coming. When the new shift of workers arrived, they were debriefed again and the work continued without a hiccup. By making sure these things were done prior to the work being done, we were able to be proactive to prevent accidents that could occur, rather than retroactively fixing dangerous accidents.
While lifting the custom barges, I noticed some irregular movement when the lift started and I immediately halted the work. After talking with the crew for a couple minutes, we were able to collaborate and determine that we should be using a tagline for this lift, due to the weight being slightly imbalanced. By stopping the work being done, we were all able to remain safe and continue with the night work after a well discussed solution was presented. Continuing on that night, I made sure everyone in the field had the proper PPE for night time, so the discussed plan ran smoothly.
In addition to the night work, I had the chance to help set up the safety orientation for subcontractors and company workers, with the goal to explain the unique hazards our site had compared to other sites. We discussed working around water, discussed Austin Bridge and Road’s life critical rules, and performed “turtle trainings,” where we educated everyone on the endangered wildlife in the area, as well as procedures to take if they were spotted. From the very beginning, Austin Bridge and Road helped me learn that everyone in the industry has a responsibility to look out for themselves and one another. From the first orientation day, it was clear to me that the safety of employees and subcontractors are more important than speeding up the work being done. Everyone has the responsibility to be safe, speak up for safety, and look out for each other.
After reviewing www.ibuildamerica.com, tell us what I Build America means to you.
I Build America is the vehicle that is changing how society and potential future builders of America view the construction industry. The old stigma associated with the construction industry is changing tremendously especially from the work I Build America is doing. IBA is showing the next generation of builders that construction is not only a respectable field, but one that is both internally and externally beneficial—it’s something to be proud of.
IBA has developed a well designed movement and platform to market the construction industry to potential future builders in order to shape the next generation of construction, and this platform is constantly being improved. These future builders are so crucial to the development of the nation because of how much the industry and the infrastructure is being built and rebuilt. What I Build America is doing is allowing construction to keep up with the demand for more people in the industry.
By marketing and recruiting tirelessly, I Build America has been successful in bringing new builders, like myself, with no prior connections to the industry to help keep up with the growing demand. The industry has the chance to expand exponentially because I Build America making construction an increasingly well known field to go into. Because of my first construction internship and I Build America’s continual advocacy for how rewarding this industry can be, I continued to build in the construction industry with my second, third, and fourth construction internships. Not only were they able to help my decision to stay in this line of work, but now my younger brother is also pursuing a construction management degree to become a future builder of America too.
The infrastructure in America is currently failing and we need to invest in correcting these issues. There is no better time than now to get into construction and shift the status quo on attitudes towards this industry. IBA is tipping the scale in the minds of the undecided, like myself, to not only join the movement, but to have the same passion and fire burning in their hearts about the work to do on a daily basis. Because of I Build America, I was personally able to see the potential in the construction industry and to outwardly take pride in the work I was doing to recruit my younger brother to join the movement.
History has been shaped by the construction of accessible infrastructure—relationships have been built, and new ideas flow continuously through the body of this historic nation, propelling progress forward. IBA is molding history by reaching new potential future builders, and opening their eyes to the benefits of the construction industry so that we can keep up with the growing demand to improve this country’s infrastructure. Construction offers a chance to be innovative, solve problems, and be proud of the work you do and the people you do it with. I Build America is giving the construction industry a new face and future builders insight to what a career in construction has to offer.
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