Blog – Day-to-day journal from Garrett

21 August 2017

Quest is an international transfer program which connects Arcadians from all over the world. Quest is sponsored by the Lovinklaan Foundation. Every week we are highlighting one of the stories our employees who went on an exchange. In this blogpost we cover the Quest story of Garrett Kehoe who traveled from the USA to Australia.

Day-to-Day Journal

May 20 – May 22. Travel from Austin, Texas to Gold Coast, Australia. After 29 hours of uneventful travel I arrived at the Gold Coast. The 8 hour layover in Los Angeles was improved by a visit with my college roommate and some much missed southern California ramen noodles. We also made a quick trip over the Northrup Gruman to sneak a peek at the James Webb Space Telescope currently under construction. Upon arrival in the Gold Coast I quickly made it to my hotel which had a stunning view as you can see in the picture above.

May 23. The morning was spent getting to meet the engineers in the Gold Coast office and learning about projects currently ongoing. The predominant work being done in the office is urban development for private clients. During lunch we had to pick up some documents from the client, what the guys neglected to mention was that the clients office was located on the beach which was a nice surprise. After lunch I started helping out by reviewing the proposed drinking water and wastewater treatment plants proposed for the development.

May 24. After an awesome 6 am run along the beach before work the day started off with an asphalt inspection. I headed out with Niel from the construction admin group to inspect some road work improvements associated with a new casino being built. The rest of the day was spent reviewing and commenting on a proposed wastewater treatment plant design for a proposed developed community. It was very interesting to see the proposed design as the collection system and treatment process were very different from any typical design which would be used in the US. The collection system was all proposed as low pressure pipes from sumps associated with each lot. The collection system was designed to try and have no peaking factors at all. At the front of the WWTP 36 hours worth of balance tanks were proposed. The treatment system consisted of pre treatment, MBR systems, and ultra filtration. I spent the day providing comments and input on the proposed design.

May 25-26. The past two days were spent in the office learning to utilize H20 Maps hydraulic modeling software. The software is being utilized for a design by another firm which the Gold Coast team is reviewing. Learning to use the software has been interesting and is actually it is quite easy to use.

May 27-28.  I spent the weekend driving down the eastern coast of Australia. The below photo is of the Newcastle WWTP. Pretty sweet location for a treatment plant.

May 29-30. These days were spent continuing to work on the model. I have gained a lot of experience with the model and a better appreciate for how it works. I have learned that most of the engineers in Australia all spend a few years doing different types of modeling. Most work across Australia is done with models, no matter how small it is. We had a meeting in the afternoon to review the model design with the client.

June 2 – 3. Travel back to the US. Travel was uneventful except for the baby who puked on me half way through. Not cool.

Quest Objectives and Lessons Learned

  1. One of the objectives of this Quest was to determine how Australia Arcadis handles QC review of designs. What I have discovered is that while the Australia team has the similar issue that we have in the USA, with having very limited budget for proper QC review. The QC reviewers are very hands-on with all the projects by constantly walking around the office and overseeing everything in every project all day. The open office concept makes for more micromanagement but reduces the need to review work at the end of a project.
  2. While not one of the objectives of the Quest initially, I learned very interesting facts about the utilization of the GEC. Hyder utilized the GEC out of the Philippines very successfully, by frequently traveling back and forth and discussing the large projects which the GEC in person. The difference is that travel to the Philippines is relatively cheap and easy from Australia. This allowed for much better utilization of the GEC and less review time and better direction. The other issue with this is that Australia and the Philippines have a minimal time zone difference. Overall this made utilizing the GEC a very viable and efficient business tool. For us in the USA the time zone difference, the limited opportunity to travel make it more difficult to utilize the GEC effectively. Overall, to really utilize the GEC, on large projects it might be effective to travel to the GEC to explain the project and get them set up for the results of the project in the long run.
  3. Furthermore, I found it quite interesting that almost all design work in Australia is done with modeling. Most of the engineers have extensive experience with different models for drinking water systems, storm systems, and sewer systems. These models are utilized heavily no matter the size of the project.

The international transfer program Quest, which connects Arcadians from all over the world, is sponsored by the Lovinklaan Foundation.