Team effort that changed a man’s life

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An interview with Engineering Specialist, Luis Sanchez

El Paso, Texas, USA — Luis Mario Sanchez III is an Engineering Specialist for Bain Medina Bain, a Texas engineering firm. In his 12-year career, he has dealt mostly with transportation infrastructure projects. Luis told us of one special project that he’ll never forget.

Luis Sanchez, Engineering Specialist, at the Tower of the Americas in San Antonio, Texas.

MicroStation Today: What’s your definition of a challenging project?
Luis: That’s easy. A good example would be ROC 52, the biggest transportation design-build project in the Midwest Region. [Editor’s note: ROC 52 stands for U.S. Highway 52 in Rochester and Oldsted Counties, Minnesota.] The pressure on that project was that we were getting constant “change orders” for overhead sign structures and striping layouts coming in from the field every couple of hours. The work had to be done and sent back out to the field within an hour of receiving the order. This went on for two years, nine to ten hours a day!

MST: Why the unusual time demands?
Luis: It was very important to the company running the ROC 52 project that the schedule wasn’t inhibited in any way. It was important that we did not inconvenience the public with multiple construction zones any more than was absolutely necessary. Since this was the first design-build of its kind, public support was vital to its success. Plus, we needed to stay on schedule and not lose money. Even with the unrelenting demands to produce, we managed to get 14 months ahead of schedule in the roadway department. Using Axiom tools religiously helped us a lot. SpellCheckerPlus and Microsoft Office Importer helped out with importing spreadsheets, verifying quantities, checking all our notes for plan sheets and creating summaries for ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems) and MOT (Maintenance of Traffic) layouts. There were so many summaries and estimates in the design-build that we did not have time to create them the old way, using only MicroStation. Microsoft Office Importer made it so easy to import data into our design files. Time is money. But in design-build, time is critical to the engineer’s scheduling and the contractor’s deadlines.

MST: How did you manage that incredible pace?
Luis: With an incredible team. There were seven of us from Alliant Engineering and URS Corporation. Everybody worked together, checking each others’ work and coming up with solutions on the fly. It was very productive and the camaraderie was outstanding! We certainly worked hard, but we played hard too. It was through the interaction and trust in each other that the bonds of that remarkable team were built.

MST: So this team of guys from different firms all became friends?
Luis: Yes, and not only work friends. It went far beyond the bounds of our working relationships during a time of personal crisis for me. I was living in Rochester, Minnesota in an apartment complex. There had been flooding in the area and my complex was affected. I arrived home and was devastated to find that many of my belongings had been ruined, some of great sentimental value to me. On top of that, the landlord told me I had to relocate in 24 hours! My friends from Alliant Engineering and URS Corporation heard about the situation and came to my aide. Not only did they work tirelessly to get all my stuff loaded on a moving truck, they also drove me to Minneapolis and helped me move into my new place. I’ll never forget the support they gave me when I really needed it. That’s the kind of team this was. I wish everyone could experience what it’s like to be part of something like that. It’s life changing.

MST: That’s a wonderful story. How does it feel looking back on that team experience?
Luis: I am very proud to have been a part of the ROC 52 group and consider it the most complex and challenging project I have ever encountered. I enjoyed working for a great firm with my former bosses: John Dillingham of Alliant Engineering, David Rossman of Bonestroo Engineering and Gary Shannon and Kao Yang of URS Corporation. I look at my work experience and my career as a life-experience classroom among friends, extended family and culture. I have taken advantage of every opportunity possible to learn something new. I value my coworkers not only as friends, but also as part of my family.

MST: Can you summarize your experience and what you’re doing now?
Luis: I was educated at El Paso Community College and interned at El Paso Water Utilities. I then joined the Texas Department of Transportation in the Survey Department. From there I went into the private sector which has taken me to Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Florida, New Mexico, California and back to Texas. I’m an Engineering and GEOPAK Specialist at Bain Medina Bain and am also pursuing a degree in Surveying under the guidance of my mentor Raymond Medina, who is my boss and good friend. Our survey projects are some of the most complex in South Central Texas.

MST: In your 12 years of CAD work, have you used any tools that have “saved your skin”?
Luis: Yes, FileFixer definitely saved my skin when I was called in to salvage a job while working in Montana. I pushed hard and did six months worth of work in six weeks. Then suddenly the file wouldn’t load because MicroStation couldn’t read the corrupted elements in one area of the file. My boss used FileFixer and we were able to salvage almost the entire file, saving me four weeks worth of work. Our deadline was three days later and we made it!

MST: Fantastic! Thank you for sharing some important moments of your CAD career and your life with us.

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