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CEM Internship Spotlight: Jake Merel

Jake Merel is a junior in Construction Engineering and Management. He is currently working with Mortenson Construction in Rockford, IL as part of his second internship with the CEM program.

Jake Merel at the construction site

Name: Jake Merel

Hometown: Mount Prospect, IL

Year at Purdue: Junior

Internship company: Mortenson Construction. This is my first internship with this company. Previously, I was an intern with the YMI Group, a small mechanical contractor in Elk Grove Village, IL.  

Internship location: Rockford, IL

Project: I am currently working on the new Mercyhealth Hospital. It is a ground up project of approximately 500,000 square feet, and it will be the new women's and children's hospital for the city of Rockford. Substantial completion is currently set for September 2018, with the first patient in January 2019.

Job title and responsibilities: My job title this summer is Intern, but I would say more descriptively that I am a Field Engineer Intern. As part of the team, I work with almost everyone on site. Since I am an intern, I work with people from multiple aspects of the project instead of just focusing on one area like some engineers are assigned. For example, my mentor is a field engineer whose focus is the enclosure phase of construction. I have completed many tasks in this area that include documenting quality control tests on the exterior systems put in place on the building, as well as coordinating the tracking of progress for the curtain wall system on the building. For others on site such as the Interiors team, I have completed inspections of in-wall systems such as electrical and medical piping, and there is a documentation process that goes along with this. I have also been in charge of preparing documents and taking notes for the weekly subcontractor meeting.

Mercyhealth Hospital on site

Favorite thing about the internship process?: My favorite thing about this internship has been the way I have been treated. From day one, I've felt like I belong and everyone has been extremely friendly and open. I've been given tasks that have been fulfilling and that are pertinent to the progress of the project.

Something that's been difficult during internships?: One thing that has been difficult as an intern is working on my time management, juggling various tasks that I have been assigned. The team has been understanding and has given me ample time to complete tasks, but there have been times where I may have taken on too much at once and felt pressure to try and get everything on my plate done immediately. This leads to more confusion and possible mistakes. I have been trying to ask as many questions as needed, and also ensure that I have scheduled time to complete tasks so that I don't get overloaded.

Construction workers with the Procore banner

Why did you choose to study CEM?: I chose CEM because of the people I was introduced to within the major. Since this major is relatively small, there's much more of a community feel than there is with other majors. I also have always enjoyed watching construction, and the gratification from seeing a building go up that you were a part of building is amazing. The opportunities for real life experience provided by the CEM program at Purdue are inconceivable in other majors. It is almost guaranteed that I will walk out of Purdue with a job, which is pretty much unheard of in certain other programs.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?: Outside of school and work, I enjoy playing ping pong and watching TV. In the future I would love to be able to travel to many of the great state parks in the U.S. to soak up their beauty.

What advice about internships would you give to students joining the CEM program?: One piece of advice that I would give students joining CEM would be to absorb as much as possible while on the job site. I can say for certain that the information I have gained on site has greatly added to the knowledge I gained in class. Also, don't take this experience for granted—make sure that the effort you give during your summers does not go unnoticed, because these internships are going to lead to a job.

top photo: Jake Merel on site at the construction of the Mercyhealth Hospital in Rockford, IL

middle photo: Aerial view of Mercyhealth Hospital under construction

bottom photo: Jake Merel and Mortenson Construction team members posing with a banner for the Procore software they use for all of their construction documents