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
Thousand Islands Border Crossing CBSA Facility
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.
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
last piece of structural steel for the
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.
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
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.
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.