Friday, April 30, 2010

First Day at my New Job

My first day on the Job as Ukarumpa’s engineer began with a walk to a house that had been the site of an attempted break-in the night before. The construction manager, LaVeryl Voss, and I were walking down to the river to see the site for the proposed RAM water intake when the distraught home owner saw LaVeryl and came out to tell us the story. She and her husband are translators and she was home alone during the incident. After spending an hour assuring her that larger bars would be installed in her windows LaVeryl and I continued our walk towards the project site. The project site is in one of the oldest parts of Ukarumpa. As we walked LaVeryl pointed out one of the houses, the one right next to the project site actually and said that a national man named Sam lives there. Sam had been terminated from a job in the construction department, and as such was required to move out of Ukarumpa and back to his village. Sam was over a month overdue on his scheduled departure and there was really no good way to remove him as he is a “big man” in his tribe and the powers that be at Ukarumpa was concerned that if he were removed by force he would send the young men of his tribe to make trouble for Ukarumpa.
After looking over the proposed site for the RAM water intake LaVeryl and I walked back to the construction department, got a truck and took a drive around the center so he could give me a tour of the water system. We drove to several water tanks and pump houses. LaVeryl showed me a couple of spare pumps that they have had laying around for years and told me that I could use them on the new RAM water intake project. I asked if he had any pump curves or other documentation for the pumps. LaVeryl just kind of stared at me and then said “I don’t know, you will have to look.” A pump house had been constructed a year and a half prior to my arrival and I asked if there had been an engineer that did the design and LaVeryl said that the project had been done in a hurry and there never was a design. The more questions I asked LaVeryl, the more apparent it became that he did not know much at all about the water system. I continued to ask questions until finally he told me that he is a carpenter and that he has never had much to do with the water system. He then told me that if I wanted a detailed description of the water system I would have to talk to some of the plumbers. We finished our tour and LaVeryl gave me a quick tour of the joinery (where all of Ukarumpa’s furniture is made) the sawmill and the hardware area. Apparently, all of these facilities fall under the construction envelope here in Ukarumpa. While we were in the hardware building I found an old water map hanging on the wall. As I looked at it I began to ask more questions regarding the elevations of tanks and pump houses and sizes and materials of existing water lines. The map was hand drawn in pencil and had faded very badly, almost to the point of being un-readable. As I looked at it I began to speak of mapping the existing water system using CAD and adding pipe sizes and materials as well as tank and pump elevations while I was in Ukarumpa and LaVeryl said “well, it sounds like you are writing your job description.”
I was then shown to my “office”, it was a large room that had at one time served as office space for three people. Now it housed a carpenter trainer and me. My desk faced a window that looks out at the main gate, which is interesting as national people are constantly coming and going throughout the day. I had the pick between 3 different office chairs each of which were broken a different way, and the promise that eventually they would get me a computer. I was introduced to the resident drafts person in the construction department. A young national lady named Melody. I saw that Melody was working on AutoCAD and I asked her what version she was running. She showed me that it was the student version from 2000.
I rounded out the rest of my first day by digging through all of the drawers I could find trying to dig up some information on the water system. Eventually I did find a notebook kept by a water guy that spent time in Ukarumpa in the 1970’s and up to 1986. I also found some old (and slightly moldy) graph paper. I picked the least broken chair, cleaned the dead cockroaches from my desk drawers and took up the task of defining, refining, and designing towards the goal of improving the water distribution system for Ukarumpa.

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