Company: Granite Construction
School: University of South Florida
Major: Civil Engineering
Internship Dates: 5/13/2019 — 8/9/2019
Tell us about yourself and why you chose to do an internship in construction.
Hello, my name is Andrea Diaz. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico and moved to Orlando, Florida when I was sixteen. My father and brother both work in construction which allowed me to be introduced to the industry at an early age. Growing up I would always see plan sheets around the house, and I would try to understand them. As a child I had a passion for building Legos and problem solving. I was a member of my school’s math team and participated in many competitions. Now I visit escape rooms to get a fast-paced problem-solving experience.
I started at the University of South Florida, August 2016 as a computer engineer major. But after interning at the I-4 Ultimate project that following summer, I realized construction was the life for me. The atmosphere was so exciting, and everyone was eager to tell me more about their careers in the industry. Although my dad had worked in construction this experience is what set my mind on working in construction. I returned to school and changed my major to Civil Engineering.
I am a senior at the University of South Florida. I am an active member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Through ASCE, I’ve been able to have fun and learn about Civil Engineering. I have personally participated in building a GeoWall (a box with craft paper that works as an MSE wall) and a plan reading competition. This year I will be a part of the Concrete Canoe construction team, I hope I’ll be able to put some of my past concrete pours into good use for our team.
Prior to this internship I had had several internships with Granite both in estimating and field engineering. I chose an internship in construction this time because, after my last internship, I could not picture myself doing anything else. The sense of comradery in the field, and the opportunity to be a part of something that will be around for decades is something I cannot pass up. When I am on a job my team becomes my second family as we are all working long hours to finish our project on time and safely. I love waking up every morning to help build America.
What are some of your proudest achievements and how did you exceed the company’s expectations for your role?
Coming into this internship I had previous experience working with Granite, but like starting any new job I was nervous.
I joined this job before we were given Notice to Proceed (NTP), which was unfamiliar territory for me. However, on my first day I was put straight to work, I began performing drainage takeoffs. My team still hadn’t hired a full-time field engineer, so I knew I had to step up. I was quickly given more responsibility putting together quote comparisons. About a month into my internship my boss ‘promoted me’ to a real field engineer position and tasked me with organizing a buyout for our temporary asphalt. I was excited to be trusted to handle a portion of our job with little supervision. I began by performing a takeoff on the temporary asphalt, then I contacted vendors and requested quotes. As quotes started coming in, I set them up in a comparison sheet, while I was doing this, I was conscious of the upcoming schedule, so I knew I had to get quotes in quickly. Finally, I sent the quotes over to my boss and project manager so they could handle contracts. It was an amazing experience to step into a role that allowed me to use what I had learned form my previous internships.
Once our job started going, my boss tasked me with being the point of contact for lane closure requests and handling Maintenance of Traffic (MOT) activities. I became familiar with the stipulations the regulating agencies stated on our plans and developed traffic shift plans. I gathered all lane closure requests form our different teams and submitted them to the regulating agency. I also assisted our survey manager with gathering the correct information that was required for the closure requests. I had never done anything related to MOT so I was this was a great learning experience.
We had been having trouble setting up iPads on our job, so I decided to try and solve the issue. I got ahold of one of our new foreman’s iPad and started setting it up. I realized there was many forms that required different accounts which was causing confusion. I developed a step by step guide that showed how to properly set up the iPads. I sent the file to the Superintendents and my boss. At our scheduling meeting our general superintendent pointed out that I had developed a guide that was “easy enough for a child to follow”.
One day we had a small concrete pour from one of our temporary guardrail attenuators. We didn’t have a field crew yet, so everyone stepped up. We had our superintendents, project engineer, project manager and me working to get the concrete placed. It was something that furthered my respect for craft labor. It was a very hot Florida day and working on spreading the heavy concrete was no easy task. It was rewarding to see our final product at the end of the day, and I was glad to help the team that day.
During my internship I felt like a true member of the team and that was the most rewarding feeling.
How were you involved with safety during your internship, and how did it change your perspective of construction?
During my internship I was able to work closely with our Safety Manager. We would regularly go out and do inspections on our subcontractors and crews. Granite prioritizes safety on all its job and Zone 3 was no different. We had our daily morning meetings with the crews where we discussed what the daily hazards were. “Safety by Choice” meant we were all responsible for safety and no one was excluded. As an intern I was encouraged to speak up if I saw anything, I considered unsafe. On one occasion I alerted the safety manager to some subcontractors who were working while there was lightning in the area. It quickly became a regular part of the job to look out for all the people working around us, since we want everyone to go home the way the came to work. A great opportunity I received at Granite was CPR Certification. Members of the team were encouraged to attend a CPR course that was offered in our office. It was very exciting to see many members of the office and crews participate in this class, it was a great to assure safety on our job and putting the responsibility on us.
One situation that jumps out at me was when were inspecting our crews performing clearing and grubbing. We had just parked across the street and suddenly a tree branch fell on the live roadway, luckily the incoming car noticed and was able to stop, the operator quickly cleared the roadway. This was when I was introduced to near miss reporting. We went over and talked to the operator and assessed what had happened, minutes later the foremen and other crew member arrived. They had left the site briefly to handle a delivery, they informed us they had previously been using a flagger to slow down and alert traffic when they were clearing close to the edge. We determined the operator should only clear close to the roadway when the flagger was present. It was really eye opening to see how close to a potential serious accident we were. It made all of us step back and asses what can be done to make the operation safer.
Safety should always be the priority of a job. Working in construction you tend to spend most of your time at the office or the field. The people you work with become your second family and their safety quickly becomes your priority.
How did you utilize technology or innovative practices at your internship?
Technological advances often help a project’s efficiency. One of the tasks my boss tasked me with was to solve the issue we were having with communicating with everyone on the team. I had previously used OneNote at school and decided to create an online notebook for our team. This was an easy way to share meeting notes, file locations, work plan statuses, schedule and work assignments. I set up the program so that it would be easy to understand for even the most technologically challenged members of our team. Additionally, I inserted hyperlinks to all our important documents which we had on our Sharepoint, this helped solve issues with people not being able to find the newest drawings or updated work plans. This was a quick and easy solution that solved a lot of issues our team was facing. By developing this system, a lot of miscommunication was avoided, and time was saved.
Like on most Granite jobs, we used HCSS HeavyJob to submit timecards, track quantities and integrated the safety module. Using HeavyJob is common on most Granite jobs and I was excited to learn how it works. It was great to see how everything is user friendly and allows for almost instant communication between the field crew and office team. Having the safety module was not just a good way to reduce paper but it was a great way to get everyone on the same page with just the touch of a button. We were able to have the team submit their take fives and had access to the notes they were taking early in the day. This was also a good way to distribute any relevant safety news on the job.
I’ve used Bluebeam to complete my takeoffs during all my internships, however, it was not until I was in class this semester that I realized how useful this tool is. My professor was recalling how he used to hand draw all his designs, this made me realize that’s how takeoffs used to be done. It is amazing to see how even the most basic programs are so important to helping with accuracy and efficiency on the job.
I was involved in erosion control measures on this job, one of the cool pieces of equipment I got to use was a turbidity meter. The turbidity meter allows us to take field water samples and measure the turbidity. The results are instant and there is no need to send samples to the lab. If there were any issues with water turbidity, we would be able to begin dealing with them immediately because of the fast results.
Technology is changing construction for the better. It is helping develop better equipment which in turns makes the work safer and increases efficiency.
What did you learn during your internship that has positively affected your life?
This internship will be my last one as I plan on graduating May 2020. Being on this job helped me grow as a professional and an individual.
At the beginning of my internship I was nervous of working with a new team. I also didn’t feel very confident with my own abilities. This quickly changed when I was handed my first task, since I was able to jump right in. I grew in confidence as I stepped up to opportunities when they presented themselves. I learned to trust myself and not be afraid to make mistakes.
Working on the MOT schedule helped me understand the importance of a well though out sequence of work and the importance of communication. I learned that establishing a good communication system with a team is the most vital step to a successful project. Everyone needs to be on the same page for a job to run smoothly.
I’ve also had a great mentor guide me this past year, he was my previous boss. He has constantly pushed me to learn everything I can and to step up to new challenges. I am grateful for his advice and value his input.
I’ve learned that the most important step to learning is asking questions and listening. I was constantly asking my team about what was happening on our project and this was the best way to learn. Everyone was eager to show me what they were doing, and I was grateful for their time.
The people I’ve met have also been an incredible part of my life. I saw my team more than my family this summer, and they quickly became my second family (as corny as it may sound). I’ve made friends that I hope will be in my life for a long time. I know I can always turn to them whenever I have a professional or personal dilemma.
I realize some kids spend their summers going out and working part time, but as I look back at my summer internship, I am happy I got to spend it with my Granite team. I cannot wait to graduate this May so I can go out and join the construction industry.
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