February 20, 2019
January 25, 2019
Since 1951, National Engineers Week has been educating and inspiring young people on the importance of engineering within society. This week, we spoke with employee-owner Eden Roth about her journey to become a Field Engineer with Sundt’s Concrete Division. Eden graduated in 2017 from Arizona State University with a degree in Construction Management. While attending ASU, she was involved in various activities including Advancing Women in Construction, Design-Build Institute of America, and the Associated Schools of Construction. Eden started with Sundt in April of 2018 and has worked both in the office and out in the field.
What attracted you to become an engineer? Was this something you always knew you wanted to pursue?
The funny thing is I actually didn’t know I wanted to become an engineer. I saw the students around me getting jobs as engineers, both project and field engineers, and actually applying what they learned in school to their job, and I just thought that was great.
There are a lot of different paths a person can take with a Construction Management degree; how did you decide on becoming a Field Engineer in the Concrete Division?
So, when I started going to school for construction, I didn’t know that I wanted to go into concrete; I just knew I wanted to build things. I met my mentor Chandra in Advancing Women in Construction at ASU, and she started talking about how important concrete is and how it’s the foundation of the structure. So, I started looking into it, and I realized how much I could learn from it, and here we are today. I can honestly say I love concrete!
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced while being an engineer, I’d have to say, is changing groups or project teams that I’m working with. Everyone works together and communicates differently, so you really have to take the time up front to get to know one another if you’re going to be successful. But once you do take the time, it’s worth it.
What’s your favorite part about being an engineer? Least favorite?
My favorite part about being an engineer is probably that you have to be collaborative and you have to work as a team. I enjoy being around other people, and there’s no other way to succeed except to work with your team and your coworkers. My least favorite part about being an engineer is probably that you work day or night, rain or shine; it might be midnight, maybe the middle of a hot day, but you’re out there. I guess that makes it the most fun too.
Knowing what you know now, and being where you are in the industry, what advice would you give your younger self just starting to find your way in the construction world?
Knowing what I know now, I would say not to be scared, and to go for it. I think it’s really easy to limit yourself and let fear dictate where you’re going, but this is the most supportive industry I think I could have found myself in. If you’re thinking about pursuing a career in construction, do it.
How does it feel being a woman in a predominantly male industry? Is it different when you’re in the field compared to in an office setting?
For the most part, it’s a lot different than what I thought it was going to be. The men all seem to be really supportive, and I haven’t had any issues with clashing or not feeling accepted. I’ve learned that if I ask questions, then I get support, because this is the most supportive industry that I’ve ever come across. There are actually a lot of women out in the field, and in the office. I find it fun to come to big events with the whole company, because even though I might be the only woman in my jobsite trailer, I get together with the Sundt family and I realize that there’s a lot of us and that I’m not just one.
August 24, 2018
Project Engineer II Dinesh Allam has been selected as one of the top 20 under 40 construction professionals by Engineering News Record (ENR) Southwest. Dinesh leads efforts to automate preconstruction processes for Sundt’s Concrete Division, and his work has resulted in substantial time savings and added value for the company. Starting as an intern with various design and construction firms on civil projects, he went on to earn a master’s in construction engineering from Arizona State University. Dinesh joined Sundt in 2016 as an Estimator, and now as a Project Engineer he is developing cost management dashboards with the company’s project management group. This week, Dinesh took some time amid his busy schedule to share about his recent award.
At 26, how does it feel to be the youngest (and the only twenty-something) selected in ENR Southwest’s Top Young Professionals?
I just thought “Wow!” I expected there to be more [people in their 20s]! (Laughing). But it’s a huge honor for me. When I heard the news, I knew I’d get some stick from everyone, like, “Oh, here comes that top-rated guy!” It’s been nice though; at the different jobsites, people have been recognizing me. So yeah, it’s been a good ride.
Your ENR profile describes you as an innovator. What’s the most innovative thing you’ve done with Sundt?
Innovation, for me, is more about our culture. But one specific thing I did was take apart 2-D take-offs and turn them into 3-D take-offs. This resulted in time savings across the board, which led to a big culture change in our division: how we hire, how we estimate, everything. I give credit to my group too because they adopted that. It’s hard sometimes to change the way people do things. I was 23 when I joined Sundt and brought up this idea, and they said, “Do it.” They trusted me, and that was a huge deal. Based on our survey, we were able to achieve 82% time savings across all major [precon] processes. And, from last year to this year, we have the same amount of people and twice the amount of revenue. That’s something I really take pride in.
You come across as someone who is very driven and invested in this industry. What motivates you?
When I see inefficiencies, I see opportunities. If I can make a difference in my circle—within ACI (American Concrete Institute) for example, then it can impact the whole industry. And if we can drive that innovation from within Sundt, it benefits us but also everyone else too. That’s one of our core values—industry and community service—and sometimes those commitments cost money and work hours. But Sundt realizes the benefits are real and gives me those opportunities, and for me that’s also motivating.
So you’re working on your MBA, guest lecturing at ASU, giving your time to different industry and community efforts—how do you keep everything balanced?
My number-one rule is that once I go home, I shut off my work phone. I also run every day, which helps me shed off all the stress. And I just do a bunch of active things like mountain biking. The other side is spending quality time with friends, having a social life.
Looking toward the future, what are some big-picture trends you see affecting the industry in the next few years? And where do you see yourself within that process?
Everyone is trying to cut costs for construction services, and we see this trend happening in every market; people are trying to pay builders less and less. I think if we can pursue certain niche markets and establish ourselves as a leader, and perform really innovative and skilled work, we can differentiate ourselves and rise above that trend.
July 12, 2017
Starting nearly a decade ago, Sundt has been performing work at San Diego International Airport (SDIA), in joint ventures alongside Kiewit Construction and Austin Commercial. Both the Terminal 2 Landside Improvements and Rental Car Center were highly successful projects, winning industry acclaim and adding tremendous value to air travelers’ customer experience.
Now the Airport Authority has chosen Sundt again, to perform two more projects at SDIA that together will be worth approximately $200 million. The Airport Support Facilities project, an approximately $130 million design-build project, is currently in design with construction slated to begin by the end of this year. Shortly thereafter, Sundt will begin construction on the Air Cargo project, as a member of a public-private partnership selected to build a new facility for FedEx, UPS and DHL.
Describing our continued relationship with the Airport Authority, Sundt Project Director Brad Kirsch said, “It’s a reflection of the confidence we’ve built with SDIA from our past two projects. This time, however, Sundt is the sole contractor, and we are absolutely prepared to deliver.” Brad also mentioned his pride in the fact that Sundt is, above all else, a builder—and that we have unique capability to self-perform much of our work. “When we’re asked to take on challenges, like building a 3-million-gallon underground storm water capture and reuse facility, our concrete and transportation groups are up for the job.” Top Gun references aside, there’s a reason Sundt is consistently a builder that airports trust.
May 4, 2017
Sundt’s GO 10 project involves improvements to Interstate 10 in El Paso.
A U.S. Census Study last year showed Texas is the fastest-growing state in the country, adding an average of 1,183 residents each day. The need to keep up with infrastructure demand has the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) managing and providing more than $7 billion a year in transportation projects.
Sundt is performing one of those projects, GO 10 on the west side of El Paso. It extends 5.75 miles of Interstate 10 and includes construction of collector-distributor lanes through the corridor, improvement of I-10’s direct connection with Paisano Drive/Border West Expressway, addition of lanes to the interstate in both directions and reconfiguration of ramps and overpasses at three exits.
The project team is working at the most complex portions of the job on the project’s critical path. This work is key to meeting the goal of completing the project in December 2018, six months ahead of schedule.
“Each of these critical locations represents all of our trades simultaneously erecting bridge interchanges, installing retaining walls, connecting underground utilities and performing roadway grading operations,” Project Director Jason Esparza said.
The project team plans on resuming concrete paving by the end of July in an effort to finish nearly 40,000 square yards of the new collector-distributor lanes. Work is also being installed by subcontractors, including electrical infrastructure, asphalt pavement and steel girders.
The team set the stage for success by performing value engineering during the construction phase on the concrete paving. Substituting 9-inch pavement and eliminating 12-inch pavement on the widening of the I-10 main lanes created significant savings for TxDOT and us. The team also helped prioritize right-of-way acquisitions to open more work earlier for our crews.
“This approach allowed us to work in areas ahead of schedule,” Jason said.
A vendor demonstrates ways to eliminate silica dust at Sundt’s Las Cruces High School job site.
Small amounts of dust can cause big problems on construction sites. To further make the point, Sundt dedicated a day during Safety Week to concentrate on the hazards of silica at our job sites across the Southwest.
Silica is a mineral commonly found in many materials on construction sites, including soil, sand, concrete, masonry, rock, granite and landscaping. The dust created by cutting, grinding, drilling or disturbing these materials can contain small crystalline silica particles. Respirable silica dust can cause lung disease. It only takes a small amount of airborne silica dust to create a health hazard.
“In preparation to comply with new OSHA standards and protect our employees from exposure to silica dust, we have been testing numerous tools for drilling, grinding, chipping and cutting of concrete,” said Sundt Area Safety Manager Jerri Dragt. “The tools must either capture the silica dust or wet methods must be used to control the dust from becoming airborne.”
Workers at our Las Cruces High School Phase 2 project watched demonstrations on dust-busting products earlier this week. Many of the tools have vacuum attachments and filters, capturing the dust before it enters the air. Our Concrete Division is testing the tools with different manufacturers to see which ones best serve its needs.
There also are attachments for tools that spray water at the point of the cutting tool for saws. When chipping or jackhammering, a constant spray of water is beneficial.
The hazards of silica dust and the recommended controls are also a regular topic for our weekly safety meetings. The most important part of the discussion is eliminating the dust in the first place.
The mission of Safety Week is to collectively raise the awareness of the construction industry’s continuing commitment to eliminating worker injury, and to communicate its dedication to a shared culture of care and concern. This is the third year we have served as a sponsor of the event.