Civil engineering offers a multitude of opportunities for students, and, as they learned during a field trip with Superior Construction, there are dozens of different types of jobs tied to civil engineering projects, like the First Coast Expressway. The expressway is a $180 million dollar transportation project currently under construction in Clay County. Students started their tour at the Superior Construction field office, where they met with a safety official who discussed the importance of safety on job sites. They got an overview of the major construction project via an aerial view, taken by a drone operator employed by Superior Construction, and learned more about the background of the project. They also met the recruitment manager for Superior Construction, who introduced the students to a UNF engineering intern. Then, everyone loaded onto the bus for a ride out to the First Coast Expressway job site. On the way, Project Manager Alton Chamberlain explained how the bid process works with the FDOT, and what it means to be a general contractor on the project. The First Coast Expressway is a 9.7-mile-long, 4-lane divided highway project which will help drivers get from St. Augustine to the Baldwin with the ability to bypass downtown Jacksonville traffic. While it’s projected to be a 4-5 year process, Mr. Chamberlain explained that they’re a year ahead of schedule already. Once at the site, students met Tim Gebauer, who shared the opportunities in surveying for construction jobs. He introduced the student group to drone operators who get the surveying done in record time (30 minutes) over what the old-fashioned methods. The same work used to take a survey team a week to accomplish. The drone operators gave the students a look at their drones, as well as an example of just what those flying cameras could do. The students saw the images produced by the drones as they flew over a massive borrow pit. Mr. Gebauer shared that technology is being integrated into the industry at a rapid pace, citing that even bulldozers now have model design screens built right in to tell the bulldozer operators what to do each day. He shared that there are so many tracks to success in this industry, whether you graduate from high school and jump right into entry-level surveying, or if you go to college to study engineering or geomatics.
On the way back, students enjoyed a “safari tour,” as Mr. Chamberlain pointed out some of the structures and construction vehicles on site, and explained their purposes. Superior Construction Recruiter Nicole Greene told the students more about the company’s college internship program and said that they may be expanding to high school students, as well. She also offered opportunities for day shadow experiences for those students who are interested. It was an amazingly informative field trip with lots to see and lots to learn. We thank Superior Construction for hosting our students and look forward to continuing to work with the company in the future!