FUTURE ENGINEERS AND ARCHITECTS TOOK A TOUR OF THE NEW FLORIDA MARLINS BALLPARK IN AN EFFORT TO LEARN ABOUT THE EVOLVING INDUSTRY
BY RODOLFO ROMAN
SPECIAL TO THE MIAMI HERALD
Wearing a hard hat and sunglasses, 17-year-old Kevin Lindgren glanced at his future at the Florida Marlins Little Havana ballpark construction site.
“I took the opportunity to see this big structure being built,” said Kevin, who plans to study marine engineering at the New Mexico Military Institute.
Last weekend, Kevin joined high school students in the ACE (Architecture, Construction, and Engineering) mentor program for a tour of the Little Havana ballpark construction site. The Marlins along with general contractor Hunt/Moss and Baker Concrete representatives also talked with the kids about the project in a safety trailer.
“It looks expensive and confusing,” said Kevin, who said he might change his major to civil engineering.
About 40 students from Martin, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Broward counties arrived in bus to the site.
Participants from schools like Plantation High, Atlantic High and Carol City High toured the site of the ballpark, which is expected to open in 2012. Visitors took a sneak-peak inside the future home of the Fish by touring the field and concourse level and even got to stand on the future baseball diamond. Workers also answered questions during the tour.
Construction manager Sid Perkins said the event is beneficial for future engineers.
“They are seeing this when they are in the middle of a career decision,” he said.
With a retractable roof and a capacity of about 37,000, the ballpark will occupy 928,000 square feet on the former Orange Bowl site. The park will be on the parcel of land bordered by Northwest Sixth Street to the north, Fourth Street to the south, 16th Avenue to the west and 14th Avenue to the east.
Organizers discussed the evolution of the architecture and engineering fields, such as the shift from hand drawings to computer-assisted design. Perkins said technology has helped speed up the building process.
“The computer aids you with your drawing,” said Perkins. “A drawing that can take you 8 hours by hand will take you a half hour with a computer animated drafting program.”
The Architecture Construction Engineering mentoring program is a national not-for-profit founded in 1994 aimed at educating high school students pursuing careers in the construction industry.
The chairman of ACE in South Florida, Chip Reid, said students gained a major lesson from seeing hands on work.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime unique experience because the magnitude and coordination it goes in,” he said.
Not only did students get to see the stadium inside and out, they also received a Marlins goodie bag, a pair of tickets to a game, and a free lunch. Mascot Billy the Marlin also stopped by for a few laughs.
During the presentation, students saw the ballpark’s building information model, a three-dimensional picture of the structure.
Sophomore Elena Chorpenning said visiting the site was a breath-taking.
“It is amazing to be here and see all of the different processes going on at the same time and how it is going up,” she said.
So far, Marlins’ officials say the stadium is 30 percent complete.