Interns Survey Asphalt Conditions on Our Roads

Engineering InternsHave you noticed two college students working around Seabrook Island in recent weeks surveying the roads, taking measurements and recording data? Meet Lillian Kome and Kaiser Rich. These are the summer interns hired by Steve Hirsch, the Director of Engineering for SIPOA. For the past several years, summer interns have worked under Steve’s supervision on special projects to address the infrastructure needs of the island. Past projects have included a lake management program, a stormwater master plan, and a stormwater pipe rehabilitation plan. This year’s project involves assessing asphalt conditions, determining when road areas will need to be repaved and anticipating long-term budget implications for this work.

Interns are recruited from engineering and related programs of study in area colleges including The Citadel, Clemson, and the South Carolina state college system. In Steve’s words, he selects the best of the best from the pool of applicants, as he did when he hired Lillian Kome and Kaiser Rich. Both are intelligent, motivated, rising seniors at Clemson, though they didn’t know each other prior to this internship. Lillian’s major is biosystems engineering while Kaiser’s is environmental engineering. What they share in common is their concern for the environment and their attraction to engineering as a path to problem-solving.

Neither Lillian nor Kaiser had ever done work with asphalt prior to coming to Seabrook Island and readily admitted they faced a steep learning curve. They began by researching about asphalt, exploring various resources, and attending training sessions sponsored by the South Carolina Asphalt Pavement Association. Once armed with this knowledge, they began their fieldwork. In the mornings they surveyed the roads in defined sections looking for signs of distress, such as cracking and the protrusion of tree roots, and collected their data. In the afternoons, the data was entered into Excel spreadsheets and mapped onto a working diagram of the roads.  For this, they use Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which is an analytical computerized mapping tool that shows spatial locations and relationships.

Overall, these data are being compiled to determine a Pavement Condition Index (PCI) for all of the roads on Seabrook. Their findings will be included in a report to  SIPOA, which will guide the planning of future road rehabilitation needs. The report is due to be released shortly. The good news is that at this point, they have not identified any “red flags” of immediate concern.

Both Lillian and Kaiser are natives of South Carolina. Lillian is from the Upstate near Clemson and Kaiser from Charleston. Neither had been to Seabrook Island before their first day of work here and they are enamored of the natural beauty that surrounds us on this island. They have been so busy working on the asphalt project that they haven’t gotten to spend any time on the beach yet. Let’s hope they have a chance to experience the beach before their internship ends on August 10 and they head back to their formal studies at Clemson….and if you see them on the roads, give them a wave and a shout out!

Tidelines Editor