Phil McDonald – Trainee Article

Construction Modelling 101: First Year Traineeship

Written by Phil McDonald, DBM Vircon

What is a hungry board and what do I feed it? What on earth does a Modified Ludzak Etinger Reactor do? But most importantly can you build it? These were some of the questions I have been asking myself during the first year of my traineeship. Already I have had the pleasure of working on a variety of projects, getting an insight into many disciplines. During my first week in the office, I was put to work on 2D fitting drawings for a floatation hopper. With all of the different things I have experienced over the past year, this seems like a lifetime ago.

Recently I joined our co-located team in Fluor’s office working on the BHP South Flank Inflow Project. Seeing a big project in action is a real eye opener and the size of the structures we were working on was staggering. I was very excited when I was tasked with modelling and producing fabrication drawings for a cable tray support using Tekla. It consisted of 2 shop welded frames that were to be bolted together on site. This is valuable experience for a trainee as it gets you familiar with industry standards and how to best model for fabrication. To start with I found using Tekla really challenging but after a few days I was making progress.

Everyone has been really supportive and helpful and I always felt I could ask any questions… even stupid ones. I’ve also had the opportunity to spend time on site at the Western Australian Water Corporation’s Woodman Point Waste Water Treatment Plant. We were out on site checking drawings matched to what was built on site. It was challenging following historic RFI communications between engineers but also fun and at times I felt like a detective.

It’s not always fun and games though; sometimes I have had work that requires ploughing through excel spreadsheets or updating title blocks on 3,000+ drawings. They aren’t always that engaging but it’s a job someone has to do.  If you’re a trainee out there reading this and doing something a bit repetitive right now just know it’s all adding to your experience and building your character. Opportunity’s will arise for you to do something more challenging.

I see a rapidly evolving future for all aspects of our industry and I think there will be further developments in BIM, VR and AR. It’s going to be interesting to see how new technology is implemented.  With year 1 under my belt, I am excited about what opportunities the next year will bring and how the industry will evolve and change throughout my traineeship.