I want to spend the whole day with a drainage crew.

Posted: June 29, 2018
Last modified: December 26, 2018

Little more than a month into her internship, Andrea Diaz has found that working on the I-4 Ultimate project can be a real proving grounds, testing both physical and mental skills.

Already, she has raked thick, heavy concrete on a freshly poured bridge deck at midnight, stood atop a tall support pier in the middle of Lake Ivanhoe to check its dimensions and reviewed construction plans to calculate schedules for work crews and the supplies they need at various sites.

Of course, she’s been closely supervised and has followed all safety procedures. And if the concrete work left her a bit tired and sore, the experience reaffirmed her decision to go into construction.

“Everybody has been great, and I love learning different skills nearly every day,” said Diaz, who will start her junior year in the civil engineering program at the University of South Florida next semester.

Diaz is following both her father and brother into the field. Indeed, her family moved from Puerto Rico to the Orlando area three years ago when her father – Rey Diaz Sr. P.E. – took a job on the I-4 Ultimate project. He is a scheduler in Area 3. Her brother, Rey Diaz Jr. – a recent civil engineering graduate – also works on the project as a field engineer in Area 2C.

After graduating from West Orange High School, however, Diaz wasn’t so sure she wanted to follow the family trade. A self-described math nerd, she briefly considered “rebelling” in college by going into computer engineering. But the excitement of big construction projects and seeing roads and bridges take shape was too much to ignore.

“I like the working environment of construction,” she said. “I like solving new problems. You learn you have to be willing to face any problem and fix it while maintaining a good attitude.”

This is the second time that Diaz has interned with SGL – the joint construction venture of Skanska, Lane and Granite on the I-4 Ultimate Project. Last summer, she had an office job in human resources that taught her about the variety of construction jobs out there.

This summer, she is experiencing many of them firsthand. She recently conducted soil-bearing tests and is ready for more engineering adventures. “I want to spend the whole day with a drainage crew.”