Hilti Sales Representative Victor Reyes, left, helps Ethan Weiskircher don the wearable exoskeleton supplemental lifting device.

March 8, 2021

Haskell Technology Training Program Invests in Craft Workforce by Building New Skillsets

'To be able to take a step back and gain some more knowledge and, really, more value, is great. I was very excited to get to come and do it.’

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In an ongoing drive to provide the safest and best work experience possible, Haskell recently brought members of its Permanent Craft Employee (PCE) force to the Development Center at its Jacksonville, Florida, headquarters for three-plus days of technology training and skills development.

The event was the second in an ongoing series of such educational summits, and it drew rave reviews from participants, both for what it taught and what it represented.

The training leveraged a number of Haskell relationships. Technology partner Building Point Florida facilitated training on jobsite layout and other uses of the Trimble RTS Series Robotic Total Station. Toolmaker Hilti provided training on Firestopping and Priority Walls and demonstrated use of the ExoSkeleton supplemental lifting device. And Dysruptek, Haskell's innovation and venture capital arm, focused on safety training and assessment using its Hazard Elimination Risk Oversight (HERO) technology, which uses Oculus Quest Headsets to provide a virtual jobsite environment.


Project Superintendent Shawn Bushong uses Dysruptek’s Hazard Elimination Risk Oversight (HERO) technology to identify hazards in a virtual jobsite environment.

Haskell's PCE program gives craft workers full-time employment with paid vacation, retirement benefits, ESOP participation, and health insurance, transferring them from job site to job site as work is needed. The Construction Core Technical Training Team took advantage of time between assignments offer the program.

"We're building a skillset they're going to be able to use on the next job," said Mike McLauchlan, Manager of Technical Training for the Construction Core. "We want them to come out of this with the skill of construction layout using Trimble RTS. We want them to come out of this with improved hazard-recognition skills. And then we want them to come out of this with knowledge/recognition of basic fire stopping/priority walls installation skills. These are skills that you can take and implement now."


Ethan Weiskircher, a recently hired construction apprentice, tries out the Hilti exoskeleton. Wearable human augmentation such as exoskeletons help users reduce strain and fatigue.

Six construction professionals attended: an apprentice, a construction layout technician, a construction foreman, two assistant superintendents and one superintendent. And while each took something different from the education, they shared an appreciation for the learning opportunities and the chance to further their careers.

Jon Womack

Assistant Superintendent

In the HERO portion of the training, participants donned virtual reality headset and identified as many jobsite hazards as possible. True to his leadership role on job sites, most recently the San Jose Prep Charter School Expansion in Jacksonville, Womack identified more hazards during the assessment than the system was designed to provide.

"I went down in the weeds, because that's where my job takes me," Womack said. "I've got to pick out all these hazards, not just the ones that I personally need to avoid. I need to be picking out what everybody else needs to avoid, too. But I like it for the new guys and for new-employee training. Give them just the basics where they're staying out of trouble and then we'll teach them how to identify the things that are jobsite-specific."

An 8-year U.S. Army veteran, Womack joined Haskell after studying construction management at Western Carolina University. He particularly appreciated the Trimble training, not because he necessarily would be performing the layout tasks but because it taught him where the technology could add efficiency.

"Learning the capabilities of equipment was important to me," he said. "The new laser saves a lot of time. Depending on how fast guys are working, it probably could save them a couple of hours a day. As a whole, we train from the bottom up. So, the guys who have been here forever know how to build a building, but they might not know some of the new tools we have. This way I can identify opportunities for technology and advocate for it and save time."

Zach Riddell

Carpenter – Layout Technician

Zach Riddell worked primarily as a carpenter, concentrating some in concrete work, during his first stint with Haskell from 2011 to 2015. Since rejoining the company two years ago, he's specialized in site layout using the Trimble RTS.

This training, he said, was a graduate-level education.

"It's been great," he said. "Because I've done it a lot, I was actually learning more little tools. Things like shooting elevations and being able to use the laser mode – those aren't things we do a whole lot. Using it as a grade rod and a rotating laser, that's not something I've ever done before. Little things like that, you may not use them a lot, but they will come in very handy.

"You can go through jobs without having to use any of that stuff. And then you can go on a job where you're heavily using certain features. So, it's good to have all of that on Rolodex, I guess."

Riddell ticked off a long list of training courses and certifications that he's experienced through Haskell. But he said the chance to devote a workweek to gaining enhanced skills at corporate headquarters was a high point.

"Honestly, it's awesome, and it's gratifying that you get to be one of the ones to come do it," he said. "You get the feeling that the company is investing in your growth. To be able to take a step back and gain some more knowledge and, really, more value, is great. I think that's why we're all here – to gain more value to the company. I was very excited to get to come and do it."

Ethan Weiskircher

Apprentice

No one at Haskell's Development Center was more pleased or proud to take part than Ethan Weiskircher. Less than a year earlier, he was finishing his senior year at Orange Park (Florida) High School and met Tim Mosley, Haskell's Manager of Field Personnel in C-Core.

"I did the carpentry program in high school," Weiskircher said. "I had always wanted to go into construction. We had a Gold Hammer ceremony, and Haskell sponsors that ceremony. So, I got to meet Tim Mosley and Alex Rodriguez, who went to Orange Park High School and was an apprentice. Talking with those guys kind of sold the deal. I called Tim Mosley after I graduated and went for the interview and got the job. Two weeks after graduation started working."

Now, just a few months into his chosen career, he sees a bright future in front of him. And he's not the only one.

"My mother is ecstatic that I'm getting to go through all the training," he said with a laugh.

In all seriousness, Weiskircher said that he had recently earned his OSHA 10 card, a credential earned by completing 10 hours of authorized safety training, and was eager to build on it.

"I just want to keep working my way up," he said. "I'd like to work my way up to foreman and superintendent. I want to be a leader."

The Technology Training sessions, particularly the Trimble education, provided just the sort of resume-building knowledge and skill he hopes to continue to amass. And while the knowledge-based classroom-style learning on Trimble operation was challenging, the practical portion of the training brought it home.

"The first day, when we were going over the PowerPoint, all these numbers are coming at you," he said. "But then when we did the hands-on, it came pretty easily after that. Having both does help. You do the hands-on and you really go back and look at what you had learned the day before. You add the two together, and it just works perfectly."

Haskell delivers more than $1 billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 1,800 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.

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