Interning on a project that contains demolition, renovation and new construction is a dream come true for MSOE civil engineering major Bennett Harris. Even more exciting, the project is right on MSOE’s campus. Bennett is an intern for VJS Construction Services, who is overseeing the transformation of MSOE’s former Roy W. Johnson Residence Hall into the new Hermann Viets Tower, a living-learning community.  

This is Bennett’s first professional internship and Viets Tower is a unique project. The demolition portion involved removing old concrete staircases and a portion of the south wall of the 12-story building to make way for the glass-enclosed addition.  

“The most interesting thing I have seen so far was the demolition of the south stairs,” he said. “The methods used were very complex and well planned.”  

Major renovation work is happening inside the building. The existing restrooms are getting a makeover; the dorm rooms are being spruced up; and the first floor entrance, cafeteria and common areas will be transformed into welcoming classrooms, collaboration areas and study commons. Each floor will have a new kitchenette and study area.  

“I think students will enjoy the new HVAC and plumbing systems going into the building. The new systems will improve the overall quality of living,” said Bennett, who’s speaking from experience, having lived on campus his freshman year.  

New construction will involve adding four rooms and new restrooms to each floor, building a 12-story glass enclosed addition. Inside the addition, students will enjoy six two-story collaboration hubs which will overlook the Milwaukee skyline. 

“I feel like I am gaining a lot of valuable experience. This project really has a little bit of everything involved being a renovation and a new addition.”  

Bennett’s main responsibilities include completing daily logs, submitting RFI’s, updating schedules, taking progress photos, and assisting the superintendent and project managers with miscellaneous tasks.  

“MSOE has prepared me for this internship by giving me a general understanding of the key elements of a construction project,” said Bennett. “Knowing how to read drawings and specs has been the most helpful thing I have learned in class so far.”