John Bazzoni has a problem—he’s just lost his cell phone. He spends a lot of time in and near the water, and his cell phone was a casualty of an especially rough day. “People in my line of work have the most current cell phones, because we’re always dropping them in the water!” Bazzoni says.
As project manager of construction administration for a coastal engineering consulting firm, Bazzoni spends about half his time in the field. And despite such challenges as losing his cell phone, he says the most enjoyable part of his job is when he’s anywhere near the water.
"People in my line of work have the most current cell phones, because we’re always dropping them in the water!"
Bazzoni works for Connecticut-based Ocean and Coastal Consultants, Inc. (OCC), which provides civil, structural, coastal, ocean, and geotechnical engineering services for coastal and waterfront projects (see related story, p. x). The company plans and designs projects, performs construction oversight, and ensures that the completed job meets their standards.
When he’s in the field, Bazzoni observes in-process construction; checks the completed work for conformance with design; and investigates pre-construction site conditions. Office work primarily involves developing construction estimates.
Bazzoni earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology, focusing on upland construction. After college, he worked for a general contractor whose sister companies included a marine contractor and a coastal engineering firm. Bazzoni had the opportunity to work for all three companies, and decided that he liked coastal engineering the most. “It’s not cut and dried, like building a condominium project,” he says. “It’s diverse because every project has a unique challenge.”
Not surprisingly, the biggest challenges come from working in and near the water. Bazzoni says one of the hardest things for those new to marine construction to learn is how to work with the tides. “If you deal with the tide by using divers, it can be slower and more expensive,” he continues. “But if you wait for the tide to be in your favor, that can also be expensive. So you have to figure out the right balance.”
Bazzoni was required to obtain certification for SCUBA and surface-supplied diving, although he doesn’t dive as much as OCC’s other engineer-divers. He’s also received mandated OSHA instruction, first-aid and CPR training, and has been trained to work in confined spaces. But he says the most important skill in his job is his on-the-job training in marine construction. “It’s important to know how long it takes to build something,” he explains. “You also have to what types of labor, equipment, and materials to use and how much all of this will cost.”
"It’s not cut and dried, like building a condominium project"
Field experience is a necessary part of any engineering education, adds Bazzoni, because it allows students to produce constructible and economical designs. He advises students who are interested in coastal engineering to get plenty of field experience. “Do internships and work-study programs, or whatever it takes to get hands-on experience,” he adds. “Knowing how things get built and being on actual construction projects is a tremendous advantage for a job candidate.”
It might also help to have a waterproof, floatable cell phone—Bazzoni’s next project involves three weeks of field work!
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