Built By Alumni

Construction of the new Welcome Center and Learning Commons was completed by alumni working in industry.

Dunwoody alumni (from left) Pat Hogan, Tim Hansen, and Travis Nelson consult on the removal of electrical systems after the former guard building was taken down near the entrance to Dunwoody.

For many of the new industry professionals hired to complete construction of Dunwoody’s new Welcome Center and Learning Commons, it wasn’t their first time on campus. In fact, more than a dozen shared the distinction of being Dunwoody alums.

And the alumni connection extends even further. General contractor Mortenson Construction, was founded by M.A. Mortenson Sr., who was also a Dunwoody graduate.

When the expansion to the original Dunwoody building was constructed in 1924, Dunwoody sheet metal students, electrical students, and building construction students all had a hand in completing the project. Ninety-four years later, it was Dunwoody alumni who worked to complete the 24,000 square-foot renovation and expansion.

Tim Hansen, Project Manager, Parsons Electric

When Parsons Electric was hired to handle electrical construction for this project, it wasn’t an accident that Tim Hansen was brought in as the Project Manager.

“I saw that the renovation was happening and I emailed my boss,” said Hansen, a 2003 Electrical & Construction Maintenance graduate. “I went to school here, and I thought it would be great to be a part of the project.”

Hansen attended Dunwoody based on advice from his dad, who was also a Dunwoody grad. Hansen said it was good advice.

“Dunwoody gives you a good foundation for understanding the electrical industry,” Hansen said, adding that it provided him with the building blocks he needed to establish himself in the industry.

He’s been at Parsons for nine years and enjoys the work, the company culture, and the variety of projects he gets to work on.

Hansen has been part of teams that helped build the Mall of America expansion and Athletes Village at the University of Minnesota.

Travis Nelson, Foreman, Parsons Electric

Travis Nelson was working in a night club when he decided to apply to Dunwoody. He had an interest in electrical construction, and a friend who was attending encouraged him to check it out.

Nelson said his Dunwoody education really prepared him for his work in the industry. Nelson also found a place in the Union. His first year as an apprentice was with Parsons. He was later offered a position at the company and has been there for more than five years.

Now a Foreman for Parsons, Nelson was excited to be assigned to the Dunwoody project and has enjoyed seeing some of his former instructors.

Corey Stone, Associate Project Manager, Parsons Electric

Corey Stone has a long family connection to Dunwoody. In fact, four generations of the Stone family have attended the college, including his father Steve Stone. But there were multiple reasons why he made his decision to attend Dunwoody.

“I like that the classes and the College are structured and centered on preparing you for the real world,” said Stone. “I really felt motivated and supported every day, since students at Dunwoody are here for a purpose and want to learn.”

After graduating from Dunwoody, Stone spent time at a number of architectural firms. He made the switch to Parsons in 2009, where he helped develop their Building Information Modeling (BIM)/ Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) group.

Now an Associate Project Manager, Stone said he enjoys being more hands-on with many different aspects of the construction process. Throughout his career at Parsons, Stone has worked on some of the company’s largest jobs including construction of U.S. Bank Stadium.

Pat Hogan, Superintendent, Parsons Electric

Pat Hogan also has family who attended Dunwoody. Both his father and grandfather graduated from the sheet metal program.

Hogan, a 1997 Electrical Construction & Maintenance alum, said it wasn’t until after he tried a traditional four-year university and a community college that he decided to give Dunwoody a try.

He entered the electrical program knowing nothing about the industry, but the active, hands-on learning was a good fit for his learning style.

He joined the union after graduation and his last apprenticeship was at Parsons. He’s been there ever since. Now a Superintendent for the company, Hogan says he stayed at Parsons because of the people. “They are more like family,” he said.

The variety of projects has also kept the work interesting. Hogan has been able to work on projects like the Light Rail and U.S. Bank Stadium.

He hadn’t been back to Dunwoody since graduating, and said the job site has definitely brought back a lot of memories. The last time he was in the gymnasium was when he graduated.

Working on such an old building has been a challenge, but one Hogan said he enjoyed. “The renovation is impressive,” he said. “It really adds a nice element to the school and brings it more up-to-date.”

This article was written and published by Dunwoody College in their Friends and Alumni magazine.

Building the Legacy

Legacy Lofts

Construction on this 1 million sq. ft. multi-unit residential building located in downtown Minneapolis, MN began in June 2016 and was turned over to the owner, Riverdale Ventures LLC, on August 1st, 2018. This 374-unit condo building, which includes 700,000 sq. ft. of livable space, was prewired for lighting, Distributed Antenna System (DAS), Wi-Fi, and features a number of modern-living amenities including, but not limited to a golf simulator, Virtual Reality (VR) game suite, pool and fitness center with LED lighting, yoga studio, in-floor heating, and climate-controlled parking, to name a few.

Construction began on The Legacy in June 2016, and Parsons began implementing Parsons P4 planning system to theproject with daily huddles, weekly updates and pull planning sessions with RJM Construction. This process was a critical component to the eventual success of the project, enabling the teams to coordinate between trades, plan and layout a preliminary work schedule, and identify potential gaps/issues that could cause delays along the way. As part of this Lean process, Parsons came together with the respective Design professionals from the other trades to talk through the designs and also met with Xcel Energy onsite to ensure they had the information needed to provide a utility transformer capable of providing permanent power throughout the entire building. This advanced collaboration helped identify and resolve issues early enough in the process to avoid impacts to the schedule, inventory, or budget.

The team also utilized The Last Planner System (LPS) creating a visual representation of the working plan to help keep everyone on the same page, set reliable weekly goals and ensure the team was aligned with our customer’s expectations and needs every step of the way.

During this time, Parsons’ prefabrication shop began creating units for the condos that could easily be installed once onsite. One unit included multiple assemblies which contained all electrical wiring, necessary outlets, cabling, and media closures, for a single condo. Parsons’ prefabrication team produced 13-21 units a week, depending on the scheduled demand, producing a total of over 22,000 assemblies and a total of 374 units for this project. The use of Parsons prefabrication teams were critical during this project as it saved considerable time and money on this project.

Legacy Lofts Construction

This was the first project that Parsons Prefabrication team used the one-piece flow process rather than three piece batch building, saving the project considerable time and money. Prior to the Legacy build, each in-wall assembly would take 11 minutes to produce. Using one piece flow production, this time was reduced to 6 minutes per assembly and an estimated savings of over $150,000 on prefabrication services for this one project.

Once onsite construction began, Parsons Electric started working on concrete decks for the post tension slabs in October of 2016, and in September of 2017 began the unit rough-in phase. An onsite crew of 35 electricians from Parsons Electric and 4 technicians from Parsons Technologies began to work on rough-ins for the 374 units, completing up to 16 units a week.

Maintaining a strict schedule, workers would receive just-in-time delivery of rough-in packages from the prefabrication team for each unit – eliminating onsite inventory, reducing onsite waste and allowing for quick, efficient production while maintaining quality control standards. Each unit rough-in package contained everything needed to rough in a unit, including lights, switches, receptacles, and the power/media panel containing data and coax routing.

Partnering with Parsons Electric, Parsons Technologies worked on this project through the established contract with RJM in a Design-Build capacity. This was a critical component in project planning and management allowing the two divisions of Parsons to work together to meet the requested scope of work in the most efficient, budget friendly way possible.

Legacy Lofts

Data systems were prefabricated and each residential unit, which ranged from 1100 to 3100 total sq. ft. in size. Public spaces were enhanced with eight Samsung A/V displays. Security points were set with 33 Genetec card readers and 7-9 Axis cameras. Structured cabling throughout the building were Cat5 and Cat6 and Hubbell termination product was used. Comcast provided the backbone fiber to all residential units. Parsons Technologies added in AOR and TES systems to this project, new systems that have not been incorporated to a residential build of this size before.

In total, about 20% of the projects hours for The Legacy were spent on work performed by our prefabrication crew of 5-7 electricians with the prefabrication of our Technologies division accounting for over 50% of the hours Parsons Technologies bid out for their contract. The heavy involvement of prefabrication on this project enabled our field team to focus on connecting prefabricated cabling to a central unit in each condo, reducing time and material costs as well as increasing safety on site.

Legacy Lofts electrical constructionProblem solving is a staple of any Parsons project, and being part of our CORE values and Lean philosophies, are present on every job site through employee innovations. Continuous improvements were abound on this project. Parsons project team improved slab pour equipment and material picks – reducing three picks to one per slab pour. The team also invented a new tool to install threaded rods through a modified drill extension – improving safety by enabling the installer to remain standing when it came to installing over 8,000 rods.

This also significantly reduced the time to install each rod from 40 seconds down to just 5. Additionally, the team installed the unit homeruns early in the process using inexpensive inspector approved tact ties to strap the MC Feeders to the rods which saved hours on the installation time. As a result of having time to plan this project, the team was able to identify numerous improvements that not only saved time, but also improved efficiencies and quality while on the project.

Riverdale Ventures LLC took ownership of the building on July 21st, 2018, with the first closing dates in August. The construction team completed the project by the scheduled completion date and came in under budget.

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Planning is Lean

Parsons believes that the Last Planner System is effective because it drives connection between people planning in the office and people executing in the field. Pre-planning is the most important phase of any project and Lean planning boards offer a bird’s eye view of the next six weeks on your project.

Using the Last Planner System to plan our work has had an almost incalculable effect on our teams internally as well as on the project site. These visual planning boards allow our teams to get out of the assumption stage of planning and transition to a demonstrable and concrete plan that we can all collaborate on and reliably commit to.

Assumptions interfere with good planning. Assumptions are when we assume that we know what to do because we are the experts and have done this countless times before. In reality, the size and complexity of projects have increased throughout the years. The failures and pitfalls of project execution lie in the assumption that we are all on the same page, which is easier said than done. The Last Planner System creates visual planning boards that serve as an opportunity to illuminate all assumptions and turn them into agreements based upon the conversations held during the early planning phases. These visual boards allow us a comprehensive view of the project in six-week increments while thoughtfully managing the work we plan to accomplish, as well as eliminating the constraints that include unanswered RFI’s, design clarifications, or vendor equipment clarifications. The Last Planner keeps the team planning and eliminating constraints on a weekly basis.

Thank you for following our Lean Ready videos! Although this is the final week of our Lean Ready series, this is just the continuation of our Lean journey—and hopefully yours as well! Being Lean is a mindset involving continued dedication to reevaluating your work at all stages of execution and asking yourself a series of questions, including: “What can I do to improve this?”

If you would like to look back at the entire series, you can look at the Lean tag on our website or check out our Lean Ready album on Vimeo. As always, we welcome your engagement on our blog or on social media.

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Reliable Commitments are Lean

Reliable commitments require reliable planning. Parsons uses Lean planning boards which become a spatial tracking system for achieving project milestones and deadlines.

Without reliable commitments to our customers and trade partners, planning will fail. Lean Ready teams are prepared to deliver on their commitments to the rest of the team, striving to improve established commitments through Lean thinking. What does Lean thinking focus on? Eliminating waste to create reliable workflow throughout the project life cycle.

We have come to realize that waste is everywhere, because everything is a process, whether you’re making a cup of coffee or installing a light fixture. There will be less process waste if you come out of automation mode to watch and learn. During your observations, you will find waste and recognize ways to eliminate it. We are often in a rush or planning on the fly, so we do not have the necessary time to properly address real problems. These problems are frequently fixed with temporary solutions, but being Lean Ready has taught us to plan early enough so that we can keep an eye open for improvement on existing standards. As a result, efficiency improves in addition to reliably committing quality to our customers and trade partners.

Although we have one week left of our 7 Week Lean Ready series, Lean doesn’t stop here. We welcome your engagement on our blog or via social media. Let’s get Lean together!

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Team Integration is Lean

Lean Ready teams are integrated teams. These team members have thoroughly planned each phase of their work early on and are prepared to engage with the collective trade partners to determine the most efficient transition between trades. They have vetted through constraints and are better prepared to reliably commit to the rest of the team.

A Lean Ready team starts each project with the appropriate tools necessary to execute the project successfully. Imagine how much better your project could be with efficient planning, team cooperation, and effective communication. At Parsons, we believe that if our project team is skilled at team integration, our customer’s project benefits with better performance.

Project team integration is another way of saying project coordination between team members. When teams integrate correctly, the project benefits as a whole. Our Lean Ready teams have processes in place that help foster integration, which in turn prepares us to fully integrate with the project teams on site. These processes include but are not limited to, discussions around site material handling, punctual delivery schedules, all materials on wheels, tact, and flow, and the elimination of constraints and barriers make being Lean Ready an asset to our customers.

Have you worked on an integrated team? If so, what was the most important take away from that experience? As always, we welcome your engagement on our blog or via social media. Let’s get Lean together!

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Parsons Electric Awarded Annual CHASE Award

In October, Parsons was awarded the annual Construction Health and Safety Excellence (CHASE) award by the Associated General Contractors of MN (AGC). Started in 2002, the CHASE program is a partnership between Minnesota OSHA and the AGC. It was designed to recognize AGC member contractors for their safety programs and performance, including those that reduce the number of injuries, illnesses, and fatalities at participant construction industry employers. It publicly recognizes contractors with exemplary safety and health programs and site-specific plans. Parsons has received CHASE Level 2 designations since 2005, signifying our company’s demonstrated commitment to safety and incident/injury reduction. In 2013 we were recognized as the first subcontractor to achieve Level 3, which is a project-specific award. We continue to participate on several Level 3 projects.

Each and every person on our team deserves a special thanks for contributing to our safe culture at Parsons day in and day out.

Read about select past years we’ve received the CHASE Award here and here.

We Deliver Flow

Being a Lean Ready team helps with project flow. As a whole, project flow refers to the manner in which work progresses through the project lifecycle system. “Good” flow describes a system where work moves through steadily and predictably, whereas “bad” flow describes a system where work stops and starts frequently. Reliable and predictable planning reduces starts and stops which improves project flow.

Our Lean Ready teams are mapping their processes for each phase of the project lifecycle to align their teams better and to look for any waste in their current processes. We prepare ourselves to assist in the trade partner project planning sessions by being fully aware of what we are capable of delivering and how soon we can deliver it. Accomplishing this involves eliminating waste in our own processes—including the early detection and removal of constraints that could impact our workflow. We are vetting our lead time constraints, design, materials, and the decisions needed before production starts.

Flexibility ensures that even when there is an obstacle at the job site, the project team is ready to make accommodations to finish on time or ahead of schedule, regardless of the circumstances. Parsons applies Lean Planning to create a flow-supportive project environment on each job site. What ways do you ensure flexibility on a job or at the office?

So far we’ve covered safety, scheduling, and flexibility in our Lean Ready series. We hope it’s inspired you to look at ways you can be Lean Ready in everything you do. We’ll leave week five’s topic a mystery, but for the time being, we welcome your engagement on our blog or via social media. Let’s get Lean together!

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Schedules are Lean

Our schedules are Lean! Shortened schedules are part of meeting the ongoing needs of our customers. One of our solutions to continually meet this need is to be Lean Ready when we begin to schedule. When we reduce the duration of different processes on site, the final cost (which includes time and materials) decreases for everyone. This leads to greater savings for our customers.

Being Lean Ready means we plan early to determine prefabrication opportunities. When we can build assemblies in our prefabrication shop we can reduce the amount of time we need on the project site to get our work installed. Using this approach, onsite slab and wall rough-in work is often cut in half, which allows for the project teams to move on to the next stage in construction.

Reducing material handling labor, eliminating defects, reducing waiting times, and focusing our talent on value added tasks creates a reduced schedule while increasing overall value for our customers—something that is beneficial to everyone involved on the project. How do you schedule? Do you use Lean to improve efficiency and reduce waste? Have you considered all of the areas that there might be waste? Are your schedules Lean?

This is the third video in our Lean Ready series. As always, we welcome your engagement on this blog or via social media. Let’s get Lean together!

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Safety is Lean

What motivates you to stay safe on the job site? Our safety program Journey to Zero and our Lean Ready practices improve job site safety because lean projects plan ahead for the right equipment needs. Not only that, Lean job sites are clean and organized with reduced material handling and less job site waste.

Part of safety is planning and that’s what lean is. If you have a good plan you’ll have tools there.
Our Lean Ready practices incorporate early planning to identify ways to reduce onsite material, waste handling, and onsite storage. We create detailed material handling plans to accommodate project flow through the work spaces throughout the life of the project. Just in time deliveries reduce storage clutter which helps keep the site clean. Materials on wheels improve the handling of materials that are on the site. A clean job site is a safer job site and ultimately means there are fewer things to move around, trip hazards, and opportunities for an individual to strain their muscles moving unnecessary material or using inappropriate tools and equipment.

This is the second video in our Lean Ready series. We welcome your engagement and sharing of this content. Let’s get Lean!

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We are Lean Ready

Construction Week 2017 may be over, but it never really stops for us. With an increasing number of projects emphasizing site safety, it’s important for us to continue to develop and invest our time in new ways that reinforce safe and efficient construction. This shift has led us to focus on Lean construction practices.

But what is Lean? Lean Construction (known as just Lean to us) allows us to better serve our customers by identifying value from the customers’ perspective and laying out the processes necessary to deliver that value. For each activity, the necessary labor, equipment, information, and materials are defined.

Practicing Lean improves safety on the job site, team integration, efficacy of scheduling, and flow of a project. However, the biggest reason Lean is an asset for us on a job is that it helps us stay accountable with our commitments and planning.

Over the next seven weeks, we’ll be releasing videos of interviews with our employees who are immersed in Lean culture. You’ll be able to hear firsthand why we believe in Lean and how it is improving construction outcomes for our customers. We welcome you to share these videos and engage with us on social media over the next seven weeks—what about Lean interests you?

 

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