Advice and Insights from a CMI Trainee

I was recently in search of a full-time position and change in occupation, and I applied to EBA Engineering’s construction management and inspection (CMI) trainee program due to a friend’s suggestion. I previously worked in a warehouse for a shipping company and had very little exposure to the engineering and construction industry.

Trainees in EBA’s CMI department are tasked with studying material provided to pass certification exams, working with and learning from other EBA material testers and inspectors, and working on various projects.

Below, I answer some questions to give my first-hand account of what trainees experience as we prepare ourselves to become future inspectors. I also offer my advice and recommendations to help others working to obtain their construction management and inspection certifications.

What certifications have you earned so far since starting the program?

So far, I have earned the American Concrete Institute (ACI) Concrete Field Testing – Grade 1, Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA), Erosion & Sediment Control, Yellow Card, OSHA 10, and Soils & Aggregate Compaction certifications. I am currently studying to achieve a certification in SHA Basic Temporary Traffic Control.

What advice would you give for achieving these certifications?

Some of these certifications have a daunting amount of information, like the ACI – Grade 1. It comes with a solid manual that breaks everything down, for example the measurements of the tools you would be using in each of the methods. It also includes a review section after the methods, which I highly recommend using. Also, for the ACI – Grade 1, you will attend a one-day class one week before the written and practical exam.

On the other hand, certifications like the Hot Mix Asphalt and Yellow Card are pretty straightforward as long as you go through the provided materials and understand the subjects. These tests are open book, so if you have reviewed the materials a few times, you’ll know where to look to find your answers.

The Soils and Aggregate Compaction certification is a three-day event. Day one is a lecture. Day two is practical training, and day three is a written and practical exam. Pay attention during the first two days; they will be going over a lot of important information that you’ll want to know for the final day.

What advice would you give for studying for the tests and/or meeting other requirements?

A couple of the certifications have a few tricky things about them. For example, the ACI – Grade 1 will go over something called a Roll-a-Meter that is used in the volumetric method for air content. The best advice that I can give is to watch the video that is provided with the course material to better understand the Roll-a-Meter process.

Also, for the Soils and Aggregate Compaction certification, take as many notes as possible during the classes and ask as many questions as possible. Getting as much out of the first two days will help you immensely on the final day for the exam.

Have you found any good resources to use?

The free Quizlet app is great for studying on-the-go, as it allows you to create your own set of flashcards. With that information, the app generates ways to test yourself between multiple choice, true or false, fill in the blank, or a combination of the three.

What has been the most challenging certification to earn so far?

The most challenging certification to earn so far for me was the Soils and Aggregate Compaction certification, mainly because so much information is covered in two days of instruction. It’s a lot of information to digest in a very short amount of time. I felt the least confident in my chances of passing this test (but did!).

What specific projects have you worked on at EBA?

I have worked on several projects in the last five months. The first was compaction testing at Matthewstown Harmans Park off of Teague Road in Hanover, Maryland. From the inspector on the site, I learned about the process involved in the work that was going on around me.

My second assignment was to complete concrete and compaction tests for St. Mary’s County Regional Airport in California, Maryland. I worked alongside another trainee on this all-day job. We ensured that the concrete was what the contractor needed and that the compaction of the backfill was to the right density.

Just a few weeks ago, I helped run basic temporary traffic control to allow EBA inspectors to access a set of manholes in Hyattsville, Maryland, for a routine inspection.

In these five months, I have gained a better understanding of the amount of effort and the many requirements needed to maintain and construct buildings, roadways, bridges, and the many things we use or access in our day-to-day lives. There is still much more for me to learn, and I honestly look forward to the chance to learn as much as I possibly can!

Terrell Robinson is a CMI Trainee for EBA Engineering, Inc.


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Terrell Robinson