This summer, many Wildcats are doing incredible things. They're not taking a vacation—they're completing demanding internships, serving others, continuing to compete in their sports at a high level and more. In the 11th edition of our Summer Spotlight series, women's soccer's Gabriella Garza shares what it was like to be part of the construction team tasked with building the Detroit Red Wings' new arena.
Construction management was definitely not something I pictured myself doing when I set off for college four years ago. After a year and a half at Northern, I decided to declare my major as construction management, influenced by my interest in architecture, my love of hands-on projects and my parents always having DIY projects going on around my childhood homes.
Originally, I had thought I would use my degree to flip houses, but through my internships I have been exposed to a broader perspective of the opportunities that are available in construction management.
When I was offered an internship with Barton Malow, I was ecstatic. Not only did I lock down a job for the summer, but it was with a well-established and respected company that had been involved in many prestigious construction projects in Michigan and throughout the country.
My hope was to be assigned to a project in Michigan, and my dream was to be assigned to the Detroit Entertainment & Events Center in downtown Detroit. Little did I know, one of the lead executives on the project was a Northern Michigan graduate; he requested to have a Wildcat on the project, giving me the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help build the new Red Wings Arena.
This summer, I have gained invaluable experience in the field of construction and have worked with the most encouraging and fun team of professionals. On site, we had a team of 40-plus people from three different companies. Our goal was to be integrative so you would not be able to tell who worked for which company. I was able to work with professionals with diverse backgrounds and diverse skill sets, which provided many unique learning opportunities.
My primary assignment was to work with a project engineer doing document control. A project the size of a professional sports arena requires immense, accurate documentation of all communications and changes within the evolving design of the structure. The RFI's change orders must be kept up to date and accessible to the team.
It was my job to update these documents daily while also writing RFI's and reviewing submittals with my project engineer. But one of the best parts of my internship was having the ability to walk the site with a superintendent or project manager and ask questions. That is one experience you can't get in the classroom.
My last week, I was fortunate enough to be involved in the topping off of the arena, which is when the last piece of structural steel is placed. It was an important event for Detroit, and I was given the opportunity to sign my name on that piece. Knowing I was a part of this project will be something I will never forget.
I am very excited that I will be able to continue working on Little Caesars Arena while I am at school and then return full time once I graduate this December.
Gabriella Garza is a fifth-year senior Construction Management major. She enters her final season in Marquette with 12 points (4g-4a) in 51 career games, which includes 50 starts.