At Granger Construction, our teammates are our most valuable assets. Meet Alaa Alsaabee, Project Engineer with Granger’s Wayne State University STEM Innovation Center project team.
Name: Alaa Alsaabee
Title: Project Engineer
Project/Team: Wayne State University STEM Innovation Center
Alma Mater/Education: Wayne State University, Masters in Civil Engineering
First Year at Granger: 2018
What key factors led to your current career/role with Granger?
Throughout school, I always enjoyed material science and structural engineering courses. These interests ultimately led me to complete a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering at Wayne State University. During that time, I was able to spend a year researching construction technologies, and became increasingly interested in Building Information Modeling (BIM).
After completing my Masters, I became aware of a job opportunity with Granger Construction. They wanted someone who could do BIM while being a Project Engineer. This seemed like a good fit for all my interests, since I enjoyed the science side of construction but also wanted to see things get built.
I had heard good things about Granger and the company’s size was appealing; it is large enough that I knew I’d have the chance to work on some higher profile projects, and small enough that I could get exposure to more responsibilities and opportunities than I might with a larger firm.
My current role at Granger allows me the right balance between management and engineering. I manage all BIM coordination for our project team, including trade coordination, clash detection and 3D clash detection modeling. These types of tasks are usually handled by Granger’s Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) team in the Lansing Headquarters, but because of my background, I am able to manage them directly for our project. My involvement in BIM on the WSU STEM project increases my exposure to systems, like mechanical, electrical and plumbing, and I find this increased technical knowledge invaluable in supporting our team.
Alaa meets with project team members at WSU STEM Granger team members in front of the WSU STEM project Alaa and fellow project team members get a glimpse of the Detroit skyline at the WSU STEM project
What are some of your favorite aspects about your job?
My role as a Project Engineer brings with it an unsteady pace of work and constant change, which I enjoy. I might walk in the office one day, thinking it won’t be busy, but then people start walking in and as the day progresses, situations arise that require immediate solutions.
It’s always something different, something new; as long as you break down the problem into pieces and coordinate with the right people, you can find a solution. Then if it’s a problem you’ve never faced before, you also eventually end up with some new piece of information.
For instance, at the WSU STEM project we had an issue where the door design conflicted with site access and security requirements. The Owner originally selected a door option they found visually appealing. However, when the foreman and security contractors reviewed the selection, they realized it didn’t meet the University’s security requirements for the facility, and they could not support this infrastructure.
I was able to work with the Owner to reassess their needs, then coordinated with our architecture and engineering partners to mock up proposed changes to the design. We went through many drawings before finalizing a solution, but ultimately everyone was happy.
What advice would you share with others considering similar careers?
Remember that you are a student forever. While operating in a complex, project-oriented industry like construction, it’s crucial to stay curious. The nature of the construction industry imposes continuously changing situations, and there’s a lesson in each. Always seek answers, and don’t hesitate to provide them if you have any.
What is one fun fact about yourself or your job?
I’ve lived on three different continents, been to 15 states in the U.S. and visited over 25 cities overseas. I enjoy observing different cultures and immersing myself in different lifestyles, and this has led me explore new skills, like learning to speak Turkish, driving on the left side of the road and becoming better at using chopsticks!