Tuesday, May 13, 2014


By Ryan Kinports

When approaching a position that will put you in charge of others there are unique set of problems you will face. Being a graduate assistant is a good experience in learning how to help a set of students with varied skill levels and drive. When I started here two years ago there was no design build program at SIU. I remember discussing the idea with a professor and they told me that it would be a lot of work to get going – that is not an understatement. The real work though is not so much in setting up the program or in the physical labor a design build involves, although that is extensive, but in including as many of the students and school community as possible. It’s a challenge to keep 50+ people working on a job that operates more as a “build as you go” than off of a static set of plans. When you have a great deal of inexperience, myself included, these problems are more significant. I have found it to be a pleasant experience overall and look forward to next year’s project, but there will certainly be changes in how the program is structured with a much finer focus on allocation of people. One of the glaringly obvious problems is that we have too many people working in the same place at the same time. You might think that telling 10 people to dig a ditch from point A to point B on a build day would result in faster completion but you will find that four people on a volunteer day dig two ditches of similar size in ¼ the time. There are many aspects of a project to keep track of but the most important as I see it is time. “Later” is an easy answer to give to a question, unless of course there won’t be a later because of time constraints. Problems in construction such as waiting for the person who knows what to do to return, running out of a particular component, or the possibility of inclement weather must not be allowed to distract students. Once you lose a person’s focus it’s nearly impossible to get them back. I have a business background and we spend significant time on workflow management, inventory management, and hierarchy structure but there is no substitution for practical experience a real work experience. We are not a real firm bidding jobs but we must operate in a similar fashion in order to keep on schedule. I would say for my first experience in such an endeavor the project has gone well – we are on track to be done by the end of the semester. When I look at the site compared to what was there, and then think about how students were able to design something so pleasant and well suited to our site, I am proud to have been involved in the process. I am ready for next year and that’s good as I’ve already had freshman ask me what we will be doing.

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