Training of new engineering graduates good for industry, firm says
July 01, 2012
"Diversified experience" is a key requirement for entry level positions in the construction and technical consulting industries.
This requirement expects emerging engineering professionals to have acquired work experience before joining a firm for deployment to various posts in the field.
But while the Board of Architecture requires diversified experience of at least two years before graduates can take the architectural board examinations, the civil engineering board does not have this rule.
This creates a situation where engineering schools "prepare their students for the board exams but does not include preparation for work," Orlando R. Canlas, Senior Vice President and Chief Finance Officer of Filipinas Dravo Corporation (FDC) said on June 22.
FDC is a leading architectural and engineering consultancy firm in the Philippines. It is engaged in project conceptualization, feasibility studies preparation, engineering planning and detailing, as well as construction management and operations for private as well as government clientele for more than 30 years.
To balance the academe's engineering theory with actual industry practice, FDC established a partnership with the University of the Cordilleras College of Engineering and Architecture (UC-CEA) in 2007 to seek the university's participation in the firm's Technical Training Program.
UC's civil engineering graduates are admitted into the program for six months of paid training as well as exposure to actual engineering methods and practices. The program follows a curriculum designed by FDC's Engineer Training Center under retired Colonel Crisostomo S. Ramos.
Training sessions, delivered by FDC for free, are complemented with on-the-job experience where the trainee earns prescribed wages for the engagement of his or her services.
"The program provides a distinct advantage for our students," former UC-CEA dean and now assistant vice president for UC corporate communications Engr. Aloysius C. Mapalo said, "because FDC opens its doors for immediate hiring of UC graduates who, after training, have demonstrated industry potentials."
The UC-CEA provides FDC with a shortlist of candidates for the technical training program. Candidates who report at FDC's Quezon City headquarters for training go through 310 hours of instruction under a 24-module "Design and First Line Construction Management Course."
Trainees are immediately introduced to the Civil 3D software, an enhanced version of computer aided design (CAD), "so that they can be immediately deployed in the operations department if situation demands."
The training advances to "Highway Design Concepts" with attention to pre-design and design activities from aerial survey to traffic characteristics and highway capacity.
Engr. Francis Z. Bilog, BSCE graduate from UC in 2004 who belonged to the first batch of FDC trainees describes the learning system as "collegial." Bilog says FDC promotes "growth through self-initiative, guided only by more experienced colleagues."
Bilog, who placed 11th in the 2006 civil engineering board examinations now works as a structural engineer for a US-based military contractor. "(Filipinas) Dravo started it all for me," Bilog said. "This is where I first got a taste of how things were moving in a pure engineering world." Before moving overseas, Bilog worked at FDC for three and a half years.
FDC's Chief Operations Officer and Executive Vice President Engr. Lito Beriña talks on FDC's drive to establish "self-initiative" among civil engineers through the training program: "Engineering is a profession that is in the same league as law, medicine or accountancy," he said. "They should be able to dispense with their decisions with authority."
Engr. Beriña said one of the basic concepts that civil engineers need to establish is that their professions are not limited to construction and design. "There is such a thing as 'contracts management' among others," he said. "Contracts and Contract Administration" is a separate module in the program and includes training on how to interpret provisions of contracts.
Not only in contracts interpretation, "English language proficiency is a factor that will build confidence among engineers," FDC owner Atty. Runy M. Sarda said. "There is no doubting the technical proficiency of engineers," Atty. Sarda who obtained his Master of Laws at Yale University and former dean of the UC College of Law explained. "English, which is the language of science and technology will help them articulate professionally and thus build confidence."
Engr. Abraham Austria (UC BSCE 2006), engineering specialist at the United Arab Emirates said the FDC training allowed him "to meet the people who are influential in the industry. This helped build my confidence through improved communication skills."
Engr. Eleazer Tobias (UC BSCE 2007) also said the training "allowed me to gain self-confidence, trust in my capabilities and believe in myself."
FDC CFO Canlas said while the program is a liberal response to a clamor for field experience among new engineers, trainees have chosen to remain with FDC for its Total Work Approach.
UC graduates hold key positions at FDC among them Engr. Libis L. Pantaleon Jr., Section Chief of the Highway Design Department, Engr. Janice L. Sison, Civil/ Highway Engineer, Engr. Baby Jane M. Villas, section chief Specifications Department. Rodel C. Benlingan and Eugen G. Bumatnong are highway engineers, Andres P. Dacwayan is a quantity/cost engineer, Ruel I. Hallado is a civil/CADD engineer, while Ryan D. Ongican is a drainage engineer.
Canlas said FDC's investment in the program - that of training engineers with pay - is a part of the firm's corporate social responsibility inspired by Atty. Sarda and wife Linda Salvosa - Sarda's stewardship of Project Matthew, a non-profit social development organization catering to street children, among others. In late 2010, FDC also extended a donation of a two-storey classroom at Quisao Elementary School in Pililia, Rizal.
Canlas said training for the fourth batch is put on hold meantime that the firm is expanding towards Cebu. "We might hold the training program for the fourth batch in Cebu," he said.