The Fabricated Geomembrane Institute (FGI) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) expanded its Summer Internship Program to three companies and six interns during the summer of 2017. The main objectives of the program are to introduce future civil engineers to the geosynthetics field and civil engineering construction, and to provide a connection between potential employers and the many undergraduate (~2,400) and graduate students (~1,200) at the UIUC.
This past summer, Colorado Lining International—now Raven Industries—rehired Guo Cheng, a graduate student studying geotechnical engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) at the UIUC, plus three additional summer interns: Billy Hernawin, also studying geotechnical engineering in CEE at the UIUC; Raymond Pu, studying transportation engineering in CEE; and Xin Li, studying structural engineering in CEE. Owens Corning (OC) also participated in the FGI’s Internship Program by hiring Abdou Diouff, a graduate student studying Construction Management in CEE. And the Layfield Group hired Elsa Wingaardh, who is also studying Construction Management in CEE at the UIUC. These six interns spent between seven and thirteen weeks learning about all aspects of geomembrane fabrication, testing, installation, design, estimation, quality control and quality assurance. In addition, they learned about other geosynthetic products that are typically installed with geomembranes, such as cushion geotextiles, geonets, drainage composites and geosynthetic reinforcement materials.
While at Colorado Lining International’s headquarters in Parker, Colorado, Billy Hernawin, Guo Cheng, Xin Li and Raymond Pu worked on factory fabrication of geomembrane panels, including welding, patching, and both destructive and nondestructive testing of the completed panels. The interns were also exposed to hands-on field experience with basic operations, including site cleaning, unrolling and unfolding the geomembrane panels, preparing the panels for welding, performing air channel and vacuum testing of the field seams, and recording and archiving all of the roll numbers and inventory.
At the Owens Corning facility in Granville, Ohio, Abdou Diouff gained valuable hands-on experience in the research and testing of geosynthetic materials and for a variety of applications. As an intern, one of Diouff’s first projects was to conduct tests to quantify the interface friction or shear strength of the RhinoMat and RhinoSkin woven-coated polyethylene geomembrane products. He also evaluated the use of earth anchors for ballasting exposed geomembrane covers from wind uplift on top of closed landfills. In addition, Diouff traveled to Mississippi to attend a Geosynthetic Materials Association meeting with the Mississippi Department of Transportation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Research and Development Center, and local engineers. During the meeting, the GMA contingent updated attendees on new specifications, geosynthetic products and applications with these end-users.
Elsa Wingaardh worked at Layfield’s fabrication facility in San Diego, California. She gained valuable exposure to the business aspects of a construction company while working in the design and estimating department at Layfield. Once a project request was received from the sales department, Wingaardh assisted in providing an in-depth analysis of the specifications, quantifying the project, pricing costs and creating a final project budget proposal. To assist with preparing the budget proposal, she visited several job sites to gain sufficient knowledge of the work being performed.
The FGI is working on their 2018 Summer Internship Program and hopes to see it expand even further. The internship program has been a great assistance to the FGI research activities at the UIUC, because the interns return with hands-on experience of the testing, installation, and quality control aspects of geomembranes.