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Week #4: CAF Engineering

The week #4 leg of the internship ended up being cancelled, so thankfully my cousin got me a quick 1 week placement at the firm he works at, called CAF Engineering. CAF Engineering is a civil engineering consulting firm based in Shapparton.  They have contracts to build anything from government buildings to large self milking dairy sheds, so I’m excited to experience such a wide variety of fields.

Day #1:  CAF does pretty much everything, but most recently they have been involved in building the new dairy installments that are a result of the increased investment from Asia into the Australian markets (the majority coming from Hong Kong).  I was lucky on my first day to be invited to a meeting that the owners of CAF were having with a manager in charge of updating and automating his dairy, with help from foreign investors.  The firm had just won the contract and were meeting him for the first time.  The meeting itself was very short, but the crew wandered around afterward looking at the current infrastructure to get a good sense of the land, and what they would have to do to rework it.  It was interesting to hear that whatever the first plan they make ends up being, that the end product will never end up the way they first planned.

Day #2: I spent the second day working with my cousin, who works at CAF Engineering as a project manager for a new dairy installment.  I got to look around and see what onsite management looks like, as well as experience the large gulf in communication between engineers and the people who actually end up building things.  I can now see how important it is to find someone who can bridge the gap between the engineers, who aren’t necessarily very good at communicating their ideas in a way the onsite workers can understand; and the onsite workers, who can be very stubborn and don’t always like engineers.  Around noon I left the site and helped the firm surveyor with plotting new cattle paths and pastures, which was actually something I quite enjoyed and may take up in the future.

Day #3: I spent day three in the office, learning how to use the civil designing program called AutoCAD.  Luckily, Cornell has a membership for all undergrad students at, a website that is good for learning practical workplace skills across any career type, so I actually ended up learning how to use the program (and signed up for the Cornell offered class this upcoming Fall).

Day #4: the next day I spent learning about how drones are used in surveying fields.  CAF likes to use the drones to measure evapotranspiration rates using NDVI satellite, and field cover among other things.  Brent, the surveyor, showed me very clear examples of how a farmer thought his crop was looking healthy and uniform, but was then showed how wrong he was.  The before and after pictures were quite clear, I even got to drive by the field and can confirm that I would’ve said the same thing the farmer did.  I don’t know exactly why satellite imagery isn’t accurate enough according to most of the Australian Ag experts I’ve asked, but there’s clearly some reason they like drones better.  I’m not quite sure how commonly drones are used in American agriculture, but there is definitely a place for them.


Day #5: I spent my final day at CAF with the surveyors again.  Our assignment was to go out to a winery that wanted to expand its water catchment area, and help survey the land so that the firm knew what they were working with.  I again very much enjoyed this part of the work experience I had, and hope to look into it more in depth at Cornell

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