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Re: Advice on Filed Experience.

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Field experience is vital to every young engineer's growth. It takes many
forms including:

    1) Observe how the various pieces go together and what difficulties are
encountered by the guy trying to put them together. Several  examples might
        a) think about providing for adequate erection tolerances
        b) think about the problems with using columns with 2 anchor bolts
(you better be using 4).
        c) think about bolting back to back beams together thru a column web
with the same number of bolts on each beam. (Very unsafe condition)
        d) think about dealing with winter conditions for concrete, steel
and masonry.
        e) Away from the job an experienced friend build his
house or pour a concrete driveway. This will give you some badly needed
hands on experience.

    2) Get to know what are the commonly made mistakes. These mistakes are
made by  all parties including the general contractor, the fabricator, the
erector, the engineer, the architect and the owner. There will sometimes be
little clues in the field (enlarged holes, some piece of steel or rebar cut
off, extra rebar laying around after all the concrete is
personal pet peeve) and sometimes large ones in the office (requests for
extra money). Take pictures and then bring them back to the office to
discuss with your supervisor.

3) Get familiar with the various inspection manuals and your specifications.
These are sometimes very good guides. If you have full time field men or
even your supervisor, offer to take him to lunch to pick his brains about
recent field problems. Keep your ears open when you hear about a field
problem discussed in your office. Find out everything you can and then file
it away in your memory.

4) Observe drawings (specifically the details) and construction by other
architects and engineers, preferably outside your office. Ask yourself, why
is he or she doing it different from me? And then dig for the real answer.
It may be cost, ease of fabrication, speed, erection, safety, etc. Don't
accept the answer, "We have always done it that way". That person doesn't
know why it was decided to do it that way in the beginning. Also that detail
may be outdated. Keep digging.

5) Review each and every detail you do with a skeptical eye. Picture
yourself trying to build it. Whether it be up on a ladder with a heavy tool
belt and a hammer drill or down in a trench fighting with ground water. Are
there enough clearances? Can you see what you are doing? Will there be muck
under the footing once it is poured?

6) Get familiar with how the contractural relationships work with various
contractors and what their responsibilities are and what yours are.

7) If you are asked a question that you cannot answer or don't feel
comfortable answering, tell him that you will check with the EOR and get
back to him, then do it! Don't get back to him 3 days later, do it
immediately! Answer only questions related to engineering or interpretation
of  your drawings. Do not answer questions such as on site safety, schedule,
contractural interpretation, etc. Let the project engineer or architect
address these issues.

As you continue to do these things, you will feel more at ease and confident
in your answers and will be able to broaden the scope of your answers to
perhaps other disciplines, interferences, etc. After you have gained
experience in these areas, the questions are pretty much similiar. It is
rare that we get a question that we haven't answered before.

Jim Kestner, P.E.
Green Bay, Wi.

Francisco Duarte wrote:

> I would appreciate any respond
> I see that there are lots of people interested in the P.E. exam results.
> As a junior engineer myself, I am close to that point where I would be
> taking the exam.
> But there are other issues that concern me most at this point  in my
> career.  I have been working for almost two years and
> in such span of time I have been able to learned  three times as much as
> what I had learned in school.  The only thing is that I hardly go out to
> the field. My field experience is limited. Any suggestion on how to
> improve in such important area in my career.  For those Engineers that
> have field experience  or are working with a junior engineer , How do
> you provide growth to the Junior Engineer in field knowledge or how you
> obtained your experience? And for the Junior Engineers "E.I.T." How are
> you obtaining knowledge about construction methods and field experience?
> For me, I have been asking my boss for years, but there is so much work
> that he does not have time to take me.  The other option is to go by
> myself to the field, which I am planning to do in the near future. The
> only problem is that I will be at the mercy of the contractors and
> alone, which means no supervision to guide me through the rights and
> wrongs in construction.
> I thank you all in advance for your opinions.
> Million thanks,
> Francisco Duarte, E.I.T.