Name: Ricky Poulton
Project: Project Requirements and Scope Development
School: Johns Hopkins University
Major: Civil Engineering
This summer, I undertook a number of different projects as an intern at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) in the Office of Facilities Management and Reliability (OFMR). One of the two main projects I worked on was the development of statements of work for maintenance projects around the museum. Specifically, I contributed to developing a statement of work for the revitalization of the sidewalk around the outer perimeter of the Natural History Building. At the beginning of the summer, I assisted Ben Spencer, a Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative at NMNH, in identifying and inspecting 20 different locations around the sidewalk that posed tripping hazards to pedestrians and museum visitors. Through inspection of the slabs of concrete posing the tripping hazards, we determined for each location whether outright replacement of the slab or mudjacking, a process that involves infusing a filler beneath the concrete that allows the slab to be drawn level with the rest of the sidewalk, would be more effective and cost-efficient in eliminating the hazards. These decisions, along with specific instructions regarding logistical stipulations to the demolition, replacement, and mudjacking processes, were then written into a contract to be passed along to the Smithsonian’s contracting office where other companies can bid for the job. This was a wonderful opportunity to observe the evolution of a maintenance project within the OFMR, from identifying a problem or need, to outlining a scope of work, to developing a contract for the actual performance of the repair.
The second main project I worked on this summer was a cataloguing of the different infrastructural assets and building systems at the NMNH into a Facilities Requirements Database (FReD). The goal of this project was to record when each asset was installed and in which year in the future they are forecasted to expire and necessitate a replacement. This project saw me browsing through a complete directory of the building’s assets, forming an inventory of some of the main components of the HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems, from as large to a water cooling tower, to as small as a single ventilation fan. Then, again with the help of Ben Spencer, we communicated with some of the museum’s engineers to determine the instillation dates and life spans of these assets. The compilation of this information into a centralized database would allow the museum’s managers to more easily see when any given asset will need to be replaced and more efficiently plan for how and when to go about doing that. This was another great educational opportunity from an engineering perspective, as I learned a large amount about components of the essential systems needed to maintain a large building, such as water pumps, transfer switches, and air handling units to name just a few. It was also very exciting to work on a project that will continue to make it easier for the OFMR to succeed in maintaining the NMNH for many years into the future, even after I conclude my internship.
This summer has been an excellent opportunity to continue to learn about the maintenance of facilities and the built environment as a whole. It has been an incredibly unique way to engage with one of the top cultural institutions in the world on such as close level. I feel very fortunate to have gone through this internship program that places such a large focus on educational experiences while still being able to contribute to projects that are impactful.