April 12th, 2011
DRIVING THE BIG TRUCKSPreserve Infrastructure, by Catherine Higgins.
A two-week training teaches newly-hired Transportation Technicians the basics of materials inspection and equipment operation.
Trans-Techs are the Jack and Jills of all transportation trades at UDOT — they operate front loaders and road sweepers, repair safety features like guardrail and road delineation markers and gather and test construction materials just to name a few important jobs they perform. Many Trans-Techs move back and forth between maintenance and construction duties by operating a snow plow in the winter and working in a construction team spring through fall. The Trans-Tech program allows UDOT to use man-power effectively and efficiently throughout the year.
Skill building is critical
UDOT holds a twice-yearly academy to give new Trans-Techs an overview of the skills they need to work in a demanding environment. But, “it’s not a pass-fail kind of thing “says Ira Bickford, Operations Manager at UDOT. The academy is a way to make sure new workers are capable to perform the core duties needed to take care of the transportation system — one of UDOT’s Final Four Strategic Goals.
Bickford helps organized the academy along with Curtis Sanchez, Equipment Safety Trainer at UDOT. Bickford and Sanchez are supported by maintenance workers who are also trainers at the academy. All have a wealth of experience in a wide range of UDOT functions. Some trainers have up to 25 years of experience — they are “very dedicated and very good at what they do,” says Bickford.
Trans-techs spend 65 hours a week doing classroom and field study on all topics so they can learn skills and “start speaking the UDOT language,” says Mike Adams, a Construction Trainer from UDOT Region Two. New workers need to know about road way features, surveying, plan sets or specifications, roadway signs, names for all parts of roads and associated structures like bridges or culverts — “a Trans-tech really has to know a lot,” says Bickford.
The hands on work comes in the second week when Trans-Techs have two days of practice operating heavy equipment and learning how to sample construction materials. Students move through a series of learning modules manned by experienced trainers who test their skills. Each student has a check-off sheet that will go with them to the job site. If more training or experience is needed, a supervisor or trainer will follow up with that new employee to develop skills and knowledge.
The 2011 Trans-Tech Academy was the “biggest group ever with 44 students participating,” says Ira. That number is nearly twice the typical number of 25 to 30. Many have construction and maintenance experience already or have worked in a related industry. Bickford says they are a “great crew. We feel pretty lucky to to be bringing these new employees on board.”
BURIED SECRETS — Fill used in MSE walls needs to be tested.
UDOT LEADER — An Area Supervisor supports the Trans-Tech program.
PATRIOT SUPERVISOR — a Station Supervisor gets an award.