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Specialist Bodies of Knowledge Within the Engineering Discipline

In-Depth Understanding of Specialist Bodies of Knowledge within the Engineering Discipline

A few days after I started my internship, my team leader took me through the process of project construction as well as the laws and regulations about contract law. Upon completing the training, I got my first project task; the Dali Rural Development Institute Project. Based on my experience, my role was to help the leader obtain the project’s data and provide ideas and suggestions for negotiations. The existing document of the project comprised:

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  • Project renderings
  • Feasibility study report
  • Construction land planning permit
  • Environmental impact registration form
  • Preliminary construction drawings design drawings (provided to the Owner by the Architecture Northwestern Building Design Institute).

I proposed the required information crucial for initial negotiations. This information includes the following:

  • Land certificate of the project
  • Project planning permissions
  • Construction drawing with the official seal
  • Source of financing for the project
  • Bidding conditions, and other cooperation requirements.

With this information, the leader and I made the first contact with the project owner. I was later tasked with drafting a cooperation agreement comprising the project overview, the willingness of our company to cooperate, construction period, rules of payment, pricing, and construction funds (Jaśkowski & Czarnigowska, 2019). After completing the agreement, I had to use my professional knowledge and communication skills to negotiate with the Owner to achieve a mutual understanding.

Knowledge of Engineering Design Practice and Contextual Factors Impacting the Engineering Discipline

While practicing the above projects, I found several important factors that affect the engineering discipline. The first is the stage of design; high-quality design involves building aesthetics and safety performance and the cost of the project. Our company expects the cost department to calculate the project cost during the project’s operation according to the design and construction drawings to promote the project’s working further. The project costing encompasses all aspects of the construction. Architectural designers undertake essential responsibilities as they develop complex designs. To stay competitive, engineers continuously improve their professional knowledge, strictly follow the requirements of design specifications and rationally adopt new technology and materials that guarantee cost reduction and exciting projects.

Human factors ensure significant aspects within the construction process. In the course of project negotiation, we encountered various challenges. The most crucial issue was financing and guarantee. In this project, the project owner was the government. Although the funds are insufficient, a loan will cater for the project’s remaining cost where a percentage of 3: 3:4 will pay interest for three years. The parties attained the decision regarding financing through group discussions and meetings with the project owner. During the project, the Owner, general contractor, subcontractor, designer, investigation units, and social constantly interacted to ensure that maintenance and operational requirements are met.

Application of Systematic Approaches to the Conduct and Management of Engineering Projects

During the industrial training, I conducted a special report meeting for another project; the Culture Theme Park Project. According to the requirements of the leaders, I needed to comprehensively analyze the advantages, feasibility, and risk management of the project based on the project situation and other literature. The total investment of the project was 60 million dollars while covering an area of 210,094 square meters. After reaching a preliminary cooperation agreement with the Owner, I inspected the project construction site. The site was next to an international airport; hence it enjoyed significant advantages regarding transportation and proximity to the area. Once completed, it could be used as a landmark for this region and our company. It would also significantly improve the market share of our company.

The cooperation model of the project was based on the general contracting of the construction. The agreed construction period was two years and the payment period was eight years. However, the building required a large proportion of capital from our company. Therefore, I proposed a plan to borrow 60% of construction funds from a group company. I collected detailed data regarding the construction cost, the payments, and the interest likely to accrue to determine the project’s profitability. Based on the “Economic Evaluation Method and Parameters of Construction Projects” and the primary data collected, I produced a detailed cash flow statement for the project. The result indicated that the fixed investment payback period of the project was 7.53 years, the project profit was 17.18%, the dynamic investment payback period was 9.57 years, the net present value was 1 million dollars, the internal rate of return was about 9.03%, and the interest rate was 7%. These results indicated the project bears sure profitability and feasibility from the perspective of financial evaluation.

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Knowledge in Engineering

I have been to various construction sites to observe specific construction activities. When learning CVEN2101, I had an opportunity to investigate a construction site in Sydney. Upon comparing the construction techniques, processes, and equipment across different nations, I noticed minimal differences. In Sydney, the wind load seems to be a significant factor to consider during construction and design. Whereas in other cities, snow and low temperature seem to be crucial elements to consider. I have also learned some new things during my industrial training, like the structure of project construction reports and engineering contracts. I have observed that in any construction project, the owner/developer should visit the construction administrative department or its authorized institution to receive the registration form of the construction project (Levy, 2018). Upon completing filling the paper, the developer should submit the registration form to the construction administrative department.

The department facilitates the approval of the document, construction project planning permissions, land use certificate, investment license, and fund certificate. Afterward, the construction administrative department or its agency reviews and signs the opinions. The department later returns the documents to the developer and initiates the construction drawings review procedure. Engineering contracts usually consist of three parts; the second part includes the general terms where the model text without modification is used to draft the contract. The first part of the agreement and the third part entail unique phrases entered according to the specific project preparing the contract. In addition, a quality warranty is included in the appendix of the arrangements.

Engineering Judgment, Critical Thinking, and Professional Communication Skills

The cardinal aspects that I learned throughout my industrial training entail engineering judgment, critical thinking, and professional communication skills. The theoretical knowledge that I learned at university was crucial when making an engineering judgment. Profuse continuous comparison, back analysis, and research improved my engineering judgment. In this field, calculations guarantee precise certainty and are often used as a design basis. A specific project and design and engineering judgment can help me determine the scope of my result and decrease my check calculation. Furthermore, I can also make a judgment based on particular conditions of any project and develop an engineering solution to solve the problem.

Critical thinking is a crucial skill during problem-solving. When writing the feasibility report of a project, I need to analyze the project in different aspects. These include; the existing construction techniques, the developer, project maturity, market demand, prevailing risks, project investment and financing, capital resources, and investment plan. Critical thinking comes in handy when proposing a preliminary project (Lock, 2016). The process entails developing the total investment, production, estimated price, direct cost, and list (including major material specifications, sources, and fees). Secondly, I have to assess the profits and risks of the project through; site investigation, analyzing the company profile, necessary cash flow statements to recommend a method of risk control.

The negotiation work of the project requires professional communication skills, and I followed my supervisor and participated in a lot of engineering negotiations. In the talks of the project, the contractor tends to raise the price by calculating the labor cost, the subcontractor’s cost, the cost of raw materials, and the installation equipment to realize more profit. Therefore, the higher the price, the greater the profit. However, in most cases, the Owner chooses his negotiating opponent through bidding. In this way, before the negotiations begin, the contractor and Owner have a rough estimate of the price. The discussion then tends to focus on various costs of the project budget, the quality standards of the project, the construction period, and insurance. On the other hand, the contractor’s reputation, capabilities, and experience play a crucial role in project negotiations.

Teamwork and Workplace Experience

Teamwork has been pivot throughout my entire engineering career, either at university or workplace. In university, we were given assignment tasks as a team to complete. Teamwork is also essential in the workplace, where I worked in a group of 4 in my department. Teamwork is fundamental when there arise various complicated projects we engage in project information/data sharing. Teamwork can reduce unnecessary costs in work, improve work efficiency and create a safe workplace environment. During my industrial training, I learned various work experiences. First of all, showing loyalty to the company and leadership bolsters productivity, satisfaction, and ultimately company profitability. Secondly, demonstrating the ability to deal with problems guarantees the company to rely on you to deliver on complicated situations at work. Additionally, assisting the leadership indicates that it can depend on you to deliver on duties regarding organizing, directing, and coordinating activities.

Working Environment

In winter, there are hardly any local construction sites. Most of The training time is spent in the office. Each design institute has its design group with two structural design groups. One group centers on the cost estimation group and the other water/electric supply design. Three types of groups cooperate in designing a building based on the plan developed by the architectural planning group. Although I was assigned to work in the water/electric supply design group, the officer at the cost estimation group or others will let me finish works in their field. This phenomenon gave me a chance to learn more about building design. As mentioned before, due to the company’s location, there is no local construction site or new design tasks in this area. The soils are frozen; therefore, during this industrial training period, the primary training focuses on the theoretical part.

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The standards of building design, especially in structural design, differ among countries. The preparation process is always essential before starting any practical method. During this stage, my supervisor asked me to read two books about codes. The book touched on the reinforced concrete structure and the standard signs or marks used to illustrate the type of reinforced structure. The principles in the first book are similar to the Australian standard used in the coursework. In addition, the editor gave more instructions to help designers to understand signs and formulae. However, the second one was more important for new employees, as it could help us understand the blueprint of the building in the current stage. My task was to understand these drawings, the labels, and the placement of the reinforcement. We further had to use it as a reference to assist other designers throughout the checking process.

After that, my instructor allowed me to check the concrete structures by investigating whether the primary reinforcement was of the suitable size (Optimal Steel Ratio, Ratio of bottom & top section stirrup area, the ratio of the depth of compression zone to the adequate depth). All three ratios are referenced to the concrete design standard (Figure 2.2). The blueprint is from our company’s actual project (Hun Nan Area 6 Junior High School).

PKPM

PKPM is a project management software developed by the Institute of Building Engineering Software of Building Research Academy. Currently, 90% of the design institute use this software due to its high quality, accuracy, and efficiency. PKPM is a series of buildings, structures, equipment (water supply and drainage, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, electrical) integrated CAD system. The software currently has a building budget series (rebar calculation, engineering quantity calculation, engineering pricing) and construction series software (bid series, safety calculation series, and construction technology series). PKPM will consider various internal forces, including earthquakes, wind, live load, unfavorable arrangements, accidental eccentricity, and stiffness amplification.

Since my supervisor believed that it is good for us to learn by ourselves, I have to buy the teaching video online and understand it with my friend Ryan who is studying Information technology at the University of Auckland. In three weeks, I will start learning how to use this complex software for some simple purposes. The basic ideas of this software entail creating a plane view model of one level and then assign it to any level needed. It means I can choose to design a building with different configurations in each group by organizing it into a whole different structure. I can also create the same system for all levels, separated by their function by setting non-load bearing walls. A designer can use the copy function to achieve this setting. As a result, the design process for some buildings, such as schools or offices, could be easily simplified. We used this function for the first project.

According to the Hun Nan area 6 Junior High School project, Ryan and I must design a new teaching building project. At the architecture part, we use AutoCAD after hand-sketching. We later use PKPM for setting models and calculations during the structure section. The PKPM will help us calculate all the required structure elements step by step. We need first to build the 3D models, place loads according to the standards, do SATWE calculations, geological structures, settlement analysis and enter all relevant data while referring to the specifications (e.g., seismic). Generally, in this section, we mainly study the software and practice it while working on the design project given by our instructor. We create a model based on relevant information such as the weather condition, location, project plan, engineering geological condition, and user requirements. First, we enter the values such as material properties, loads, earthquake level regarding the standards. Then the PKPM software will handle the rest and provide us with a detailed report of our structures.

Extra Design Group Depending on Local Policy

For standard design purposes, two design groups of structural design and water/electric supply design cooperate in designing the building depending on the client’s requirements. However, when the city has a unique hot water heat system, a different group must create this water supply system. This phenomenon indicates that some other design groups are necessary for areas with particular policies or environments.

References

Jaśkowski, P., & Czarnigowska, A. (2019). Contractor’s bid pricing strategy: A model with correlation among competitors’ prices. Open Engineering, 9(1), 159–166.

Levy, S. M. (2018). Project Management in Construction, Seventh Edition. McGraw-Hill Education.

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Lock, D. (2016). Project Management in Construction. Project Management

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