Intern Happenings – By: Lauren Jewett, AEI Mechanical Intern

Cal Poly Pomona Seniors Visit South Region Elementary School #10

By: Lauren Jewett, Athena Engineering Mechanical Intern

After two internships and a couple of other estimating jobs, I was looking for a change, something different. I wanted to find a successful company with a small company feel. Somewhere that would trust in my abilities, and give me responsibilities that other employers save for the full-timers. After my search started to look dismal, I stumbled across Athena Engineering, Inc. Not only was it considered one of the top independently owned private companies in the area, but it was also woman-owned.

Now call me biased, but as a competitive female myself, I am very much aware of the male to female ratio in the construction industry, and how difficult it can be, at times, to be successful in a field dominated by men. Regardless, I sent out my resume, and hoped for the best, as AEI had managed to accomplish just that.

It wasn’t until my first interview, when I had a chance to see their office that I knew this was what I was looking for.  With the organized office spaces, friendly faces, and great natural lighting, I could already picture myself sitting behind one of those shiny white Macs with my own stack of papers. The next step was to impress. I must have been lucky that day…

For the past few months that I have spent as an Athena Engineering, Inc. intern, I have often pondered whether I have learned more about the construction industry here, than I have in the actual classrooms as a Construction Engineering student. It is no wonder Cal Poly Pomona has added internships to the required curriculum. Then again, I guess it is considered a Polytechnic school for a reason.

Even with the perfect internship, another major part of our curricula is our senior project.  Since I am now a senior, that time for me has come.  The project I have chosen is competing in the Associated Schools of Construction 2012 Student Competition.   This isn’t considered one of the easier of tasks, but the description was one that I could not pass up:

“The Associated Schools of Construction is the professional association for the development and advancement of construction education, where the sharing of ideas and knowledge inspires, guides and promotes excellence in curricula, teaching, research, and service.”

This competition, in a nutshell, involves six team members, who spend sixteen hours in a confined room (don’t worry, we at least get food runners), and one problem statement.  The problem statement comes on a compact disc and if the information contained on that compact disc were to be printed out, it would be equivalent to half a tree and worthy of an eight-inch binder.

The disc contains a set of plans to an actual project and all the information our team needs to be chosen as a pretend, yet worthy, company competing against many other pretend, and hopefully not so worthy, companies.  The key to success at this national competition is practice, so my team and I have set off to do just that.

Our plan was to get a feel for site logistics, phasing, safety cultures, and whatever else we thought would be helpful to our future mock company.

Luckily, with my new recent internship at AEI, I knew just where the best place to practice would be.  My employers, and their “always-willing-to-help-when-can” attitude, allowed me and my fellow team members to visit one of their most recent projects, the South Region Elementary School #10.

I had conveniently spent the past couple of months writing Submittals, Job Hazard Analyses, Crane Plans, RFCs and other such information for this project, that I felt comfortable getting my way around the site… But not without a little help from my friends.

Upon arrival, AEI’s Mechanical Foreman, Vince Jackson, was able to spare a few moments to give us all a brief overview of what the Mechanical Subcontractor’s responsibilities are for this particular project. He also paid special attention to the group’s attire, inspecting our PPE and escorting us to our next tour guide (as any responsible and diligent Foreman should!)

Not only was AEI eager to help, but Taisei Construction Corporation, the General Contractor on this project, was also very welcoming. Senior Safety Manager, Greg Patrick, gave us a full on tour of the site while explaining the extra measures they take to make sure every person who enters the job site arrives home safely after the work day is done. With over thirteen months since the scheduled start date working on South Region Elementary School #10, and zero accidents, our team was eager to hear what Greg had to say.

After the deluxe tour, we were lucky enough to take a few minutes out of Taisei’s busy Project Manager, Mike Edwards’, schedule.

As the voted Project Manager for our competition team, I was all about what he had to say. He described the specific delivery method, 17406 Lease Back, the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) system , their BIM coordination process, the project’s scheduling and many other useful subjects, in detail. He also accounted much of the project’s timeline success to Taisei’s very efficient Superintendent, Ed Dickson.

All in all, our field trip exceeded our expectations and was very helpful in getting things moving for our team. Big thanks to Athena Engineering and Taisei for letting us get our feet wet in the overall process of building construction, real life hard work, planning, and the sometimes stress that comes into play, no matter how experienced or talented a team may be.

-Lauren Jewett, Athena Engineering, Project Assistant

Cal Poly Construction Engineering Majors (left to right): Lauren Jewett, Blake Niggli, Freddy Flores, Alfredo Flores, Franklin Le, Cory Waterbury/ Taisei Construction Corporation Staff (left to right): Scott Kaufman, Greg Patrick, Mike Edwards, Barbara Dillon, Ryan Schneider.

Cal Poly Construction Engineering Majors (left to right): Freddy Flores, Alfredo Flores, Lauren Jewett, Cory Waterbury, Blake Niggli and Franklin Le, standing with AEI’s Mechanical Forman, Vince Jackson (middle).

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