I walked into the training room, ready to learn what the Project Managers (PMs) learned. As soon as I walked into the room, I found a seat and promptly took out my notepad and pen. Several of the guys looked over to me and chuckled.
“Hey boss, don’t you think this guy deserves an introduction?” one man said while gesturing over to me.
“I’m a Content Marketing Writer,” I said. “I’m here to learn as much as I can about what you do and how ground penetrating radar works so I can write for GPRS.”
The other men nodded. I took the cap off my pen. “All right,” Mitch said, “Let’s get started.”
The Project Managers had been going through weeks of on-the-job training in an apprenticeship program and were now going through class room training.
Groups of Project Managers were organized into teams. One dubbed themselves the Big Birds; the other team was the Cowboys. On the large screen at the front of the room were different GPR images, and the PMs competed to identify the various elements of what was being shown.
The trainer, Mitch, would point to different image sections and test each group.
He said, “Big Birds, look at this right here,” as he traced his finger along with a faint dark streak across the TV screen. “What is this?”
I could barely make out the line he was pointing our attention to. One of the Project Managers conferred with his team, “Is it rebar?”
“I’m sorry, that’s incorrect. Cowboys, do you know what it is?”
The Cowboys huddled, then one spoke up and said, “Is it a conduit?”
“Correct,” Mitch said. “Now let’s move on to some scanning.”
Each of the Project Managers brought out the specific radar assigned to them. All the radars performed the same function, but varied in appearance. The PMs geared up for scanning – knee pads, iPads, straight edges, and markers – and tables were moved aside to provide room as they prepared to scan the concrete floor of the training room.
I asked Mitch if scanning the floor was a part of the standard affair. He said the foundation was explicitly built for this training. Several extra lines were laid along with the standard materials to provide a challenging scanning environment when the concrete was poured.
At the time, he informed me that GPRS was building an entirely new facility for expansion and training purposes. There would be hundreds of square feet of concrete specifically poured to test the new Project Managers. [That facility now exists at the GPRS Silica Rd. location. The new four-classroom training center boasts 3,000 sf. of post-tension concrete to challenge even the most savvy technician.]
“So, I’ve read that in the last year, we’ve done something close to 100,000 scans and have something like a 99.8% accuracy?” I said, “Is that right?”
“Yes, that’s about right,” he said. “Something like 99.87%, I believe.”
“So that means that theoretically, each one of the Project Managers is going to do hundreds of scans and may never make a single mistake?”I asked.
“Yeah,” Mitch responded. “It’s completely possible.”
As the training continued, each of the PMs was assigned a different section of the floor to investigate. They would set up their equipment and scan the area; many of them receiving the visual ground-penetrating radar feed wirelessly on their iPads. As they scanned the ground, they took markers and drew what was underneath the surface on the concrete floor. They denoted the different obstructions such as rebar, conduit, and water lines, using different colored markers to signify them. Everyone followed a standard procedure when marking their area, making each area look uniform to each other’s.
After a PM said their work was done, Mitch would double-check their work and ensure that their markings were accurate.
He went over to one PM and showed him that he mistook a junction box for rebar.
“There goes the power to half the city, huh?” the Project Manager said, defeatedly.
“No,” Mitch said. “Just the power to this part of the building. But that’s why we practice here, so we don’t make these mistakes out there.”
“You’re right.” The PM said.
After a few minutes, I took Mitch aside and asked him if any Project Managers ever required more training. He said yes. If a PM isn’t showing a high enough degree of proficiency with their equipment or readings, they’ll receive extra training to make sure they’re ready for the field.
Mitch went up to one of the PMs and told him they could head home early because he knew they had a long drive ahead of them. The Project Manager obliged and packed up.
I asked Mitch how long the PM had to drive. Mitch said he lived in Illinois and had a five-hour drive to get home.
I inquired where all these PMs were from. He answered that they were flown in from all over the States to receive training. One PM was from D.C., another from Sacramento, a couple of men from Chicago, and so on.
He informed me that they’re flown in from all over the U.S. and spend two weeks of high-intensity training on-site at the end of the program.
As the PMs finished working in their areas, Mitch and the other trainer checked their work. They were eventually given the ‘okay’ to head back to the hotel. Mitch told the PM who misidentified the junction box to stop by a local park Maumee Bay over the weekend to do some more practice work.
For even joining just one day with the Project Managers, I felt like I’d learned so much. These men were getting so much information thrown at them and demonstrated a clear understanding of what they faced.
I’m impressed with what I saw, and I’m excited to see what we learn in our next meeting!