Weeks 3-6 working for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) presented many different challenges and showed the different types of projects I will be working on. The first major change was the frequency of when I worked. I began this summer thinking I would work 10 days each biweekly for 8 hours/day like a regular full-time job. However, toward the end of week 2 I was presented with other work schedules that I had the option to switch to. 1 of these included working 8 of those days at 9 hours/day, 1 day for 8 hours, and then one free day off and the other option was 8 days for 10 hours/day. These options are presented to employees for multiple reasons: to improve quality of production at the workplace by allowing workers to choose schedules that they would prefer, it provides extended hours that employees can serve customers and the flexibility in scheduling supports Michigan’s Clean Air Campaign by allowing me to choose a schedule that will reduce the number of days that I commute to the office. After creating a list of pros/cons of each option, I settles for working 8 days for 10 hours/day over the course of 2 weeks. This switch was tough because the days are very long but I feel that this is good experience.
I spent the first two weeks doing Micro Station training and designing pavement markings for the first time. Since then, the overall project has progressed and therefore what I have done has progressed with it. My co-worker and I have spent time also doing designs for roundabouts and boring hole samplings. In case you are wondering what boring holes are or why they are important to sample is because it is very important to know what the surrounding terrain and soil is like when placing any new or replacing any existing road structure. Knowing if the surrounding area is a wetland or some other terrain type could change how a road is designed. Other than these two additions to what I have worked on, I have also spent a lot of time critiquing my work and redoing most of it. When anyone finishes a design, they submit the design to the boss who gives feedback. This feedback ranges from being immediately approved to having that employee needing to redo everything. I haven’t been unlucky enough to have to redo everything on any design yet but I have certainly had to make many changes for each design.
Lastly, the photo attached to this post is from week 4. This was taken on the first day that my coworker and I was able to go out into the field and survey a bridge in person. This field trip allowed us to see what exactly needs to be inspected to assess when a bridge will need repairs, when a interstate or any roadway will need repairs, and the importance of always inspecting a terrain in person. Inspecting the terrain in person is important because the department creates design plans that will consume open land and currently used land. Land that is inhabited tends to have water lines, access to electricity and other networks such as fiber optics that may need to be relocated for our project so it is the duty of the department to make sure all of these networks are accounted for.