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Story About A Civil And Structural Engineer (PART 1)
PART 1: Living at University…
I had to go to more than 10 years ago. I got an offer from a local public university called Universiti Pertainan Malaysia (now called Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)). The offer I received was not the program I chose. During that period, the offer was Degree in Civil Engineering and you didn’t know what civil engineering is? I tried to ask my friend, my relatives and who I have met, but no one can tell me what the show was about. Time was critical; I had to choose whether to accept the offer or enter a private institution. Due to my family financial problem, I had to accept the offer because the cost of studying the program was low. It costs around RM300 per semester (+90USD). I lived in college for about 4 years. In the initial period of studies, I still do not really understand what civil and structural engineering is? I learned structural theory, hydraulics, hydrology, etc.
During one of the semester holidays, I got a part-time job at a highway construction company in Seremban (a city in Malaysia). I was paid about RM300/month. This company had a project to upgrade an existing roadway to a 4-lane roadway. I was a trainer and assisted a resident engineer. It was an interesting job for me, because I worked in the civil works environment. It was an unforgettable job. The work was very challenging. I had a group of workers working under my direction. These workers were purely imported from India. So I had a hard time communicating with them. I had to use primitive body language to talk to them. Somehow, a lot of funny things happened. Like for example, I asked an Indian to give me a stick, he said YES and through it he came out. When I asked him to cross a road to help me with certain surveying works, he only crossed to alert the traffic. Until passing cars had to stop to let him cross. Fortunately, there had been no accident. Later I found out that the country of India with little traffic. So they were not alert with the traffic. I learned a number of practical jobs in this company. I learned how to level up using leveling gear. I learned how to check an existing level by referencing a reference level. I gained experience in measuring river velocity to obtain river flow. And more works on site.
One of my unforgettable memories was helping a prime contractor involved in an accident. The case was the installation of bakau piles for slope protection. The piles were injected using the excavator arm. One of the piles ruptured due to excessive pressure, and it spun and hit the main contractor. The contractor was injured. The incident happened with only Indian workers and me. I was nervous and didn’t know what to do. I just picked up his car key and moved him to the car and drove to the hospital. At first, he did not know the danger of accidents at the site. After the incident, I realized the importance of SAFETY at the site. From now on, I will be more alert with the SECURITY measure. I won’t do anything I don’t know about. I got help before I worked on it. This was the first time I noticed civil engineering works.
Part-time jobs are a lot of fun. I even worked Saturday and Sunday to get some overtime. Somehow, just one thing I don’t prefer is having to work in the hot sun, my skin gets darker. I came as a laborer from Indonesia. People spoke to me in Malay.
When I was in college, I found out that the civil engineering program was not easy. My friend who under other programs was simple and enjoyed, where else, my “work” time was from 8:00 am to 11:00 pm. He was always busy and had little free time. The educational program system also took me to a weekly exam. He gave me at least one exam per week, until I had NO feeling from the exam. There are also a number of coursework, tutorials and projects. I was so busy that I never came home.
During my third year of study, it was a practical semester. I got an offer to work as a trainee engineer in a civil and structural consultancy company in Seremban. The payment was low only RM100/month. It cannot cover my monthly expenses. Anyway, it was my first time practicing civil and structural engineering. The working environment was very different from studying at university. I realized that a number of knowledge that I study can be applied in daily works. Everything was new to me; it made me very interesting in the civil and structural field. I loved myself again. I can visualize the real world with the application of civil and structural knowledge theory.
Somehow, another controlling factor in the works was reached, namely money. I can’t work only on what I wanted; I had to fit the time frame of the project. I can’t analyze a beam that took me half a day. I had to go to time management.
When I was working in the consulting office, I was also exposed to the site experience. When I went to the site, I found it very interesting. I saw people building houses, roads, drains, etc. I realized how my design work transferred to the real world. I was proud of my works. It took me further into the world of civil and structural engineering. I was thinking that I had to become a “good” civil engineer in order to serve the public. Since I was young, every time I went to the site, some experienced contractor would take the opportunity to “walk me through” something I had no experience with. They tried to scare me and made me leave the place. Therefore, in the initial period; I was very afraid to go to the place. Especially to attend the site meeting. During the meeting, people will ask me some queries and I didn’t know how to answer. It was one main thing I couldn’t handle.
Time passed quickly, I entered the last semester, it was a semester of projects. I selected a computer programming project for a prestressing beam design. This was the first time I ever dabbled in computer programming. I found computer programming very interesting. I liked programming. I had chosen a Borland C++ language to work with. Since the language was new during that period; I didn’t get any help with the language. I have always struggled with coding. Once upon a time; I had a problem that made my program unstable. I could not find the source of the problem for a period of 1 month. It kept me up at night. My supervisor saw my problem and advised me to stop, but I refused. When the project time got short, it drove me crazy, until I almost wanted to change my project. Anyway, I was able to handle the problem and finished the project.
Finally I managed to obtain the Degree in Civil Engineering. I missed live in college. Throughout my time in college, what I really learned from her was; how to be more independent? How to get the resource when there is a problem? Who to refer to if something has happened? How to deal with people?
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