Kevin Danh: On the road training
Hometown: Providence, R.I.
Major: Civil Engineering
Hometown: Brockton, Mass.
Major: Civil Engineering
Maintaining the safety of more than 600 bridges and 1,100 miles of roadway is no small task. Each year, the R.I. Department of Transportation relies on University of Rhode Island engineering interns to assist in keeping the state’s traffic infrastructure safe.
Every year about 50 engineering interns spread across multiple agency divisions to help conduct bridge and sign inspections, analyze the safety of roadways and undertake special projects.
“The URI interns are very prepared,” says Robert Rocchio, managing engineer of traffic management and highway safety. “They pretty much hit the ground running with many of the things we do here.”
For civil engineering student Dan Litton that meant spending the summer of 2012 inspecting dozens of bridges and culverts. He checked for structural integrity, failing concrete, exposed rebar, proper signage and guardrails and even flooding. Litton and fellow interns also conducted traffic counts to study the loads the bridges faced and whether truckers ignored weight limit postings.
Back in the office, Litton reviewed calculations and shop drawings compiled by contractors who rated the quality of bridges.
“It’s just a typical day inspecting bridges, making sure they don’t fall on your head or underneath you,” Litton says with a laugh.
On firmer ground, fellow civil engineering intern Kevin Danh worked to ensure proper signage and signaling for motorists zipping along state roads.
During the summer and fall of 2012, Danh traveled throughout the state to make more than 100 inspections. He investigated missing or confusing signs and submitted work orders for corrections.
Danh said he and other interns found seemingly small problems that could have led to a major accident. There were the one-way signs placed in a manner that confused drivers, the missing blind-driveway sign on a major road and the stretch of roadway where a contractor had failed to replace a series of signs removed during construction.
The DOT never awarded Danh a grade, but he knew the stakes.
“At the DOT there are no exams,” Danh says. “But if you don’t have good engineering judgment it will not only affect you but members of the public and your credibility to get a job.”
Pictured above: Kevin Danh, far left, with other interns at the R.I. Department of Transportation.