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.

Hailie's Intern Experience: Groundbreaking and Fun with the Project Team

Hi! I’m Hailie, an intern with Alberici, working on an SCR construction at a power plant in Ottumwa, Iowa. I just completed my junior year at Purdue University, where I’m majoring in Civil Engineering. I’m interested in Construction because it is an industry that has been around since ancient times, but continues to grow and evolve every day.

This is my first internship, so going into it I was very nervous, especially because I would have to relocate to Ottumwa for the summer. I didn’t know what to expect going into the intern orientation the first day, but I left feeling a lot less nervous, and a lot more excited to start. At orientation I got to meet my fellow interns and learn about each project they were being sent to.  We learned about Alberici, its history, and its employees. Many of the employees who spoke to us had been there for over ten years, some over twenty. If people have stuck around with this company for that long, it must be a good place to work. By the end of the orientation we had learned about the company’s estimating process, safety policies, current projects, and had met over thirty employees. We also got a tour of the headquarters office, which is a LEED Platinum building. After orientation, about ten employees took us out to a fun dinner, where we got to know them a little bit better.

My first week at the plant was an exciting one. I got a tour of the construction site and the massive power plant, and learned how a coal-fired power plant operates. They began laying concrete my second day, so I got to see the testing process and watch them pour the concrete. I also sat in on safety meetings, change order meetings, daily update meetings, and a company-wide update meeting. It’s exciting to be able to see some of the things I’ve learned about in school being utilized at the site or talked about in the meetings. After my first day, some of the employees took me to dinner where I tried my first fried peanut-butter and jelly.

Now, I’m just finishing up my fourth week in Ottumwa, and I’ve already learned so much. I’ve been able to sit in on all-hands safety meetings, joint venture meetings, meetings with the owner, and many others. I’ve also had the opportunity to get a look at how RFIs, change orders, and other owner-constructor operations are conducted. It’s been very interesting to see how so many people are involved in every task on the site. 

There is a daily meeting where the craft superintendents meet with the management to staff to give updates on what has been accomplished that day and what is going to be accomplished in the next few days. These meetings have helped me to understand every task that is complete on the site, as well as the problems that arise and the solutions that are used to correct them. One of the tasks I have been given here is to make and send out the daily report. This is a report that updates the JV and the owner on what was discussed in the daily meeting the day before. It’s cool to know that something I write is being seen by so many people, and is providing them with information about the project. Another report I worked on over the last two weeks was the monthly report. This is a report that is presented at the monthly meeting, which was held this week. The monthly meeting is an opportunity for all of the people involved in the project, on-site and off-site, to come together and discuss the progress of the project, the safety statistics, the schedule, everything down to the recycling stats. At the meeting, everyone is given a copy of the monthly report. It was awesome that this report that I had worked on was being used by so many people who were very important to the project. Another task I have been given is to label the existing steel columns around the plant with their location elevation. To do this, I had to go through the owner’s reference drawings and determine which column had which location and which floor had which elevation. This was challenging to do as the drawings can be confusing and you often have to look at several at a time to understand them. This task has been really helpful to me, though, because I not only understand the drawings a lot more, but I also have a much better feel for the plant because of it.  

I was also lucky enough to attend the Groundbreaking Ceremony at the plant today this past week. There was a presentation about the project and pictures with the owners and the joint venture. This only happens once throughout the project so I was lucky that I got to experience it. 

It hasn’t been all work here, we’ve done some fun things around the area after work. After the monthly meeting we all went out to dinner together, which was exciting because I got to know the people who were working on the project off-site. We also went trap shooting. It was my first time shooting, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I even hit some birdies which was another surprise. Hopefully we’ll go again soon, and maybe by the end of the summer I’ll get the hang of it!