Hailie's Intern Experience: Summit in St. Louis & Last 2 Weeks in Ottumwa

I’m heading into the last week of my internship and I can’t believe how quickly this summer has flown by. I’ve been able to do and see so much this summer it’s crazy to think it’s only been three months. The site has changed so much since I got here. When I first arrived, we were just working on constructing the foundations for the SCR structural steel and building the fab tables for the ductwork fabrication. Since then, we’ve erected over 200 tons of steel, fit-up and welded inlet and outlet ducts, constructed a crane pad and placed 1000 cubic yards of concrete in it, and erected the massive Manitowoc 21000 crane. Having never been on a construction site before, it’s unbelievable to me what can be accomplished in just three months.

Last week I traveled to St. Louis for the Intern Summit. All of the U.S. and Canaidan interns from Alberici, as well as interns from Flintco (Alberici's sister company) attended the summit at the Alberici corporate headquarters. The night before the summit I went Go-Kart racing at Pole Position Raceway with the eight other interns out of the St. Louis office. I had never been go-kart racing before so it was really fun, even though I came in last in both races! The next day, at the summit we got to meet the ACL and Flintco interns and it was so cool to hear about the projects they had been involved with this summer. On the first day of the summit we heard from the Market Leaders about all the different markets that Alberici serves. After a tour of headquarters, we took a bus to Hillsdale and learned about Hillsdale Fabricators and Kienlen Constructors. We got a tour of Hillsdale and the warehouse. There was some very high-tech looking equipment in Hillsdale that was being used to fabricate the steel, which was fun to watch. In the evening, we all go to go to a Cardinal’s game. Alberici got a box for the night, so we all got to eat, talk, and watch the game. A lot of Alberici full time staff came to the game too. It was awesome to have the opportunity to get to know them outside of work.

The second day of the summit began with site tours. Half of the group went to Lock & Dam 25 and the other half went to the Route 47 Bridge Project. I was in the group that went to the Bridge, and it looked like a really exciting project. In order to build the bridge, they had had to put one of their cranes on a barge on the river, which was something I had never seen before. After the site visits we went back to the office where we learned about the technology Alberici implements for their projects and we made a point-cloud scan of the conference room. The day ended with employee and returning intern panels. We learned about the employee’s backgrounds, projects, and experiences and the returning interns told us about why they decided to come back for another summer with Alberici. The panels were very helpful and relatable because we got to hear from people that were or still are in our shoes and how their careers with Alberici have grown.

After the summit I went back to Ottumwa for my last two weeks of work. I was excited to get back because the Manitowoc 21000 crane had finished being erected while I was away and I was so excited to see it. I can’t believe my summer is coming to an end, but at least I still have one more week!

Hailie's Intern Experience: Finding Solutions to Unforeseen Issues

The last few weeks on site in Ottumwa have been very exciting and eventful. Construction activities have ramped up a ton. I got to witness the first columns of steel being erected, the first outlet ducts be fabricated, and the delivery of the first pieces of the Manitowoc 21000 crane, which will come in a total of 68 truck loads.  One of the most valuable things I’ve learned in my time here so far is that no matter how much planning and coordination you do for a construction project, there are still problems that arise that you couldn’t have predicted.

For instance, a major scope of the project this past month has been to build a crane pad for the 21000 crane. To do this, we have had to excavate a large area in the yard outside the plant. In the process, a system of pipes was discovered that run through the yard. There were no existing drawings that showed what the pipes were used for or their path. We brought in a hydro-excavator to pothole around the yard so we were able to determine where the pipes went and their purpose. I was able to assist one of the on-site engineers in taking measurements of the pipe dimensions, then I added the pipe paths to existing drawings and sent them to the engineering side of the joint venture who added them to the official drawings. We then encased some of the pipes in concrete and rerouted others to protect them from the weight of the massive crane that will be erected in a couple of weeks. One of the things I find most exciting about the construction industry is this need to be able to navigate around unforeseen problems quickly so that you can stay on schedule and under budget.

Another project I’ve been given was to complete the 3D Lift Plan. This is an online-program that allows you to build your construction site on the website then insert the cranes you will be using on-site. The program has almost any crane you can think of and the lift capacity, radius, and a lot of other information for each crane. Using the program, you can figure out how large of lifts you can make and how far you can make them. To put the existing plant and structures around the plant into the program, I had to use our 3D model of the site and take some measurements on my own to get the right dimensions. I then added the cranes we would be using and some of the larger items we would need to lift. I had a lot of fun working on this, and I know it will be helpful to the team.

This past week my main focus has been to compile the Material Receiving Reports. These reports are made for each delivery we get to the site. They include information about the items delivered, the inspector's report of the items, and pictures. I compiled all the reports, filed them, and put them in the file database we share with the engineering side of the joint venture and the subcontractors so everyone has access to them. Once I became familiar with that process, I was able to start receiving the truckloads myself. This means I am notified when a load will arrive, then I go inspect it, fill out the report, and take pictures once it does. It’s so cool to me that I’ve been given this responsibility since this is something that the project engineers usually do. It makes me feel like a real project engineer.

I can’t believe I’m more than halfway through the summer. My time here has flown by and I can’t wait to see what else I’m able to get involved with in the next five weeks.

Careers in Construction: BIM and VDC

Throughout the month of October, which is Careers in Construction Month, we’ll be exploring a number of different construction career paths at Alberici. To kick off the series, we’ll be taking a look at working in BIM and VDC.

Not all construction work occurs on the jobsite. Alberici’s BIM and VDC experts work to “build” the project virtually to prevent future issues in the field.

What are BIM and VDC?

BIM, or Building Information Modeling, is a process that involves the creation and management of a digital representation of a facility. BIM representations are 3D and can also incorporate time as a 4th dimension and cost as a 5th dimension. Creating a BIM representation is highly collaborative and requires involvement from multiple stakeholders including architects, engineers and specialty subcontractors. Once a BIM model is created, it can be used to view a project from different angles, to detect design clashes (for example pipes running into ductwork), to verify if work in the field has been installed as designed and as a communication tool for the construction team.

VDC, or Virtual Design and Construction, describes the work that can be done using the models created through BIM.

Hillman Hall BIM

What do Virtual Construction Professionals do?

ClashAt Alberici, Virtual Construction professionals combine BIM models created by architects, engineers and subcontractors to create a complete, fully coordinated BIM representation. Using the comprehensive model, Virtual Construction professionals are able to identify clashes in design as well as identify constructability issues. In the field, superintendents and Project Managers use the model to plan and discuss the work and to verify that work is installed as designed.

Alberici’s Virtual Construction professionals also work with the estimating and marketing teams. When Alberici is pursuing work, BIM can be used to show an owner what a new facility would look like. Estimators can pull quantities from a model, a quicker and sometimes more accurate approach to completing an estimate.

Building a Career in VDC

BIM PyramaxThere are many different pathways to a career in Virtual Design and Construction, including an increasing number of university programs. Many universities offer courses in the management and use of BIM; some even offer degrees specializing in Virtual Design and Construction within a Construction Management or Engineering program.

Many Virtual Design and Construction professionals come to the field from an architectural, engineering or construction management background, and further their knowledge with continuing education focused on BIM. The Associated General Contractors (AGC) offers a credential for BIM, and several Alberici employees have earned this CM-BIM credential.

Formalized training can lay a solid groundwork for a career in Virtual Design and Construction, but it cannot replace hands-on experience. Managing the process and understanding the intricacies with various software, ensuring all models are coordinated, and managing various competency levels of those working in the model can really only be mastered in the field.

In addition to formal training and hands-on experience, a focus on technology, attention to detail and management capabilities are all essential to success in this field.

As Alberici’s Director of Project Controls and Virtual Construction Brooks Williams explains, working in Virtual Construction is a satisfying because like construction, it “offers fresh challenges, and figuring out how to leverage technology allows us to build better projects.”