Monday, September 9, 2013

The majority of graduate students in Urban and Regional Planning complete an internship during the summer between their first and second year. Yuan Zhang held one of the more interesting ones—in Beijing, China. She worked as a full-time intern for the Beijing Municipal Commission of Urban Planning (BMCUP). This planning agency is directed by the local government of Beijing, serving an area that covers the entire 14 urban and suburban districts and two rural counties. She was assigned to the Beijing Planning Supervision Executive team to work on two different projects. One involved underground piping, as it affects subway transportation, and the other project focused on construction oversight throughout the city.

As a member of the Planning Supervision and Enforcement Chamber of Municipal Transportation, Yuan was happy to be selected to participate in the “Underground Piping System Planning Checking and Investigation Pilot Group,” which was funded by the local government. The project included checking and investigating Beijing’s existing underground pipeline system and also construction piping projects. The project’s goals were making policy aimed at developing a well-managed digital map/information system, under the control of local government and BMCUP. Yuan’s job included cooperating with the Beijing Institute of Surveying and Mapping, collecting Beijing’s underground pipeline system records, information and detailed maps, which were focused on subway lines, sewage system, drinkable water systems, gas pipelines, optical cables, etc.

Since the internship was set up for her to be a combined member of the Supervision and Enforcement Chamber of Construction Administration too, her daily job responsibilities were to also participate in the entire construction review process. She compared as-constructed drawings with their pre-approval planning drawings and graphic mappings, accurately calculating dominate construction errors in detail. In some cases, an on-site investigation was necessary, including some construction sites in rural counties that may need three hours driving round trip.

It was quite challenging work for an entry-level employee to check files so they were error-free, but she made it. Yuan feels the research experience with the piping system was a valuable asset for her as well, allowing her to use her skills and knowledge of transportation planning and GIS, despite the fact that underground space and pipeline system planning was a new field of study for her.