Growing up with a fascination for Construction

4/10/2017
Growing up with a fascination for construction, there was always one name that stuck out to me— PCL. Fast forward to now, and I’m lucky to say that I’m on my third work term with the company.

My name is Kevin Musson and I’m in my second year of the civil engineering technologist program at Algonquin College in Ottawa, Ontario. I’ve been very fortunate to have three very different experiences in my co-op work terms. Over the past year, I’ve been able to call the Thousand Islands Border Crossing Redevelopment, West Block Rehabilitation, and now the Government Conference Centre Rehabilitation my home away from home. Each site has taught me different aspects of the construction industry, both in the office and in the field.

Thousand Islands Border Crossing CBSA Facility Redevelopment

 

My first term was an hour and a half away from home, and I commuted every single day. TIBC is a new construction project that will be replacing the old Canadian Customs building at the border of Ontario/New York. The new building will be able to accommodate almost twice as much traffic with its new lanes and a separate area for incoming commercial vehicles. On-site I was greeted by Mike Mason, superintendent, who immediately made me feel like a valuable part of the team, instead of just a four-month temporary student. Mike put an unbelievable amount of trust in me, which gave me the confidence boost that anyone new to the industry would need. My tasks included: tracking underground utility installation, concrete orders, organizing third-party inspections, and general schedule planning with the trades on-site.   

Greatest Lesson: Ask questions! Ask the trades, your boss, and your coworkers as many questions as possible. These are people who have years of experience in the industry, and were once in your shoes.

West Block Rehabilitation

Signing the last piece of structural steel for the
glass roof.

After working in the field, I wanted to experience a bit of the office side of one of our projects. West Block is being renovated to upgrade seismic capabilities and become a temporary home for the House of Commons while Centre Block receives similar upgrades. I worked under Travis Grimes, project manager at West Block. Working with Travis and his team, I began to understand how the process of construction begins on paper way before it begins on-site. West Block is a huge heritage project where much of the work is hidden under heritage items. This means that sometimes you would find ideal conditions when you open a wall, but more often than not you wouldn’t. What amazed me the most was West Block team’s ability to work so well together when those kinds of issues arose.  Any time a problem came up, PCL was able to consult with the trades and each other to come up with a solution in what seemed like record time.

Greatest Lesson: Stay organized! Your co-op term may only be four months long, but some of the work you do could be used a year down the road. If you’re as detailed and organized as possible, it will be much easier for someone to pick up your work and understand it even after you are gone.

Government Conference Centre Rehabilitation


While the office experience was great, I decided that in order to truly understand what was happening on-site, I needed more experience in the field. Similar to West Block, the GCC will become a temporary home for the Senate while Centre Block is receiving upgrades. From day one, Mike Muldoon, assistant superintendent, has kept me busy. I’ve been given plenty of responsibility working with trades to help close interior walls and ensure that heritage aspects are maintained. I’m looking forward to expanding my knowledge in the field with the great team at the GCC.

Greatest Lesson: Be versatile! Sometimes your plans just won’t work out. It’s a great skill to be able to roll with the punches and create a secondary plan that will cause as little disruption to the schedule as possible, while maintaining the owner’s expectations and consultant’s specifications.

Overall, my experience with PCL has been more thrilling and meaningful than I ever thought co-op terms could be. Thank you to everyone in the Ottawa district who have been extremely welcoming and helpful to me throughout my time here. 

COMMENTS

  • Way to go Kevin!

    Corey O'Connel
    04/14/2017

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