Blogger Sidney Buford
Sidney Buford is a Project Inspector with the Facilities Operations Department at John Tyler Community College.
Blogger Ray D’Aguanno
My career began in the construction industry shortly after completing three years in the United States Army. In 1996, I started working for a small contractor in Chesapeake, Virginia where we did a wide range of construction activities. The work included excavation for home foundations, construction of steel buildings, construction of homes, renovation of residential and commercial structures and landscaping. During this time, I was exposed to reading plans, calculating for foundation depths, surveying for building site pads, and utilizing multiple tools and equipment. During this time, I started to take classes at Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, Virginia.
In 1998, I transferred to Old Dominion University and became involved with the co-op program. I was approached by a construction management firm that was working on an interstate construction project in Norfolk. My responsibilities at this firm grew quickly and so did the opportunities afforded to me. I was only held back by my own ambitions, which allowed me to grow quickly. In addition to field inspection, I was able to start learning CPM (critical path method) scheduling, cost estimating, dispute resolution, and project documentation further in depth. Once the project was completed in Norfolk, I was offered a chance to move to Richmond to start working on more VDOT projects.
After relocating to Richmond, Virginia, I started classes again – this time at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in the engineering program. While working full time on the VDOT project, I was also attending school full time and working on smaller projects doing either cost estimates, documentation review or project close-outs. I halted my education in 2001 and focused on my career full time. After closing out several large VDOT projects in the Richmond metro area, I requested a transfer to Northern Virginia to expand my experience.
Once in Northern Virginia, I began on a small construction project which connected two roads with a small bridge across a creek in the middle of Tyson’s Corner business park. This project kept me busy approximately 30 hours per week, and the remainder of my time at work was spent in the office working on dispute resolutions; reviewing and updating CPM schedules; performing cost estimates; completing cost analysis; performing value engineering proposals; and training people on proper project documentation. After settling in, I enrolled at Northern Virginia Community College.
In February 2005, a project started close to my home, so I accepted a position as the Senior VDOT Inspector for Parsons Brinkerhoff. Unfortunately, Parsons lost the VDOT inspection contract, but Dewberry took over the inspection contract and asked me to remain on the job site. Less than one month into working for Dewberry, I was involved in an onsite accident which left me physically unable to work for several years.
We moved from Northern Virginia in 2008 to be closer to my doctor in Richmond. After multiple follow- ups with the doctors, I was able to refocus my life and start picking myself up. In 2013, I was afforded an opportunity to return to school and decided to enter the architectural program at John Tyler. I have three classes remaining in the upcoming fall semester to complete my associates degree in architectural drafting. I completed my certificate in building construction in spring 2014.
During the spring 2014 semester, a position was posted at John Tyler Community College seeking a summer intern for Gilbane Building Construction. I was offered this position and started officially on June 2, 2014. Working as a contractor’s representative has been very enlightening. I have been able to sit in on scope review meetings, preconstruction meetings, O/A/CM (owners, architects, and construction managers) meetings, and even a scheduling meeting. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that occurs before the first scoop of dirt is removed from the job site. This work allows for a smooth transition from preconstruction to construction and finally to the day we turn the project over to the owner, which in this case John Tyler Community College and the Virginia Community College System.
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