The Site Engineer orchestrates the project

When completed, Jokeri Light Rail will relieve crosstown traffic in the Helsinki metropolitan area in Finland and reduce traffic emissions. The extensive construction project is divided into sections. In section 3, Site Engineer Arttu Äikäs, 28, acts as the right-hand man of the Section Manager and orchestrates the project’s schedule and costs. The broad scope of infrastructure construction, the opportunity to solve challenges and working with a great team have kept Arttu at YIT ever since his first summer as a trainee with the company.

Arttu Äikäs
Arttu Äikäs

Arttu Äikäs has been enthusiastic about all kinds of construction since he was a little boy. Growing up on a farm, he has always been handy with a hammer. There was plenty for him to work on. His childhood dreams of becoming an architect eventually led to the idea of a career in infrastructure construction during his engineering studies at a university of applied sciences. He found the breadth of the field irresistible.

“What I like about infrastructure is that the projects are large and include many different parts. You get to be involved in various things. You have a broad job description and get to see the progress of the work every day. I am motivated by challenges and solving them as a team. Every problem has a solution,” Arttu says.

Arttu, 28, enjoys the challenges he gets to solve as a Site Engineer in the Jokeri Light Rail project. The light railway connecting Itäkeskus in Helsinki and Keilaniemi in Espoo is being built in six sections. The entire project is due to be completed in 2024.

Arttu works in section 3 as the right-hand man of the Section Manager. The section covers a distance of seven kilometres from the border between Helsinki and Espoo to Tuusulanväylä, so there is plenty of work to do and a lot of responsibilities.

“I feel like my work really has an impact on things. The schedules, costs and the background materials that influence decisions need to be in good order. It’s important to me that I’m given responsibility and that people have trust in my abilities,” Arttu says.

Doing construction work in the middle of the city and around busy roads means that there are a lot of stakeholders and road users to consider. Infrastructure construction gives Arttu the chance to look at things from the perspective of a builder and a road user.

“While construction can cause temporary disruptions for road users, the reason for the special arrangements is always the need to ensure the safety of road users and construction teams with no compromises,” Arttu explains.

Safety at work is taken very seriously. At the time of writing, the section 3 construction site had more than 300 accident-free days behind it — a milestone that was marked with a celebratory lunch for all of the site’s personnel.

Learning by doing and developing

Arttu’s career at YIT started as a summer trainee following his first year of studies at a university of applied sciences. Being a blue-collar trainee showed him how the work is done. Summers spent as a supervisor trainee taught him about systems and scheduling, and his time as a trainee in tendering calculation helped build insight into project finances.

“It has been very useful for my current role that my trainee periods gave me the chance to be involved in various parts of the process, from tender calculation to production,” Arttu explains.

Arttu has worked in the Jokeri Light Rail project since section 3 started in January 2019. Even before YIT was awarded the project, Arttu told the organisation he wanted to be involved.

“The bigger the project, the more pride I feel about my involvement when I look back after the project is finished,” Arttu says.

While he has received good support from his more experienced colleagues during his career, Arttu has always been eager to find things out for himself and learn by doing.

“I like to develop myself. If something doesn’t work, I analyse it to figure out how I could do it differently. You also have to take responsibility and ask your colleagues and supervisors whether you’ve done your job like it needs to be done. You can’t develop without feedback.”

Like a family

Arttu says the tight-knit team of section 3 is like a family. It’s nice having a lot of people around and things going on all the time. The considerable size of the Jokeri Light Rail project means that every section is a large infrastructure project in itself. Arttu appreciates his colleagues.

“We have a good group of people here. Everyone is committed to doing their job well. We don’t get sidetracked. We focus on the job and get things done as agreed.”

The fact that Jokeri Light Rail is implemented in the form of an alliance project means that there are more people in the project office than in ordinary projects. The designers, contractor and builders are all in it together. The shared goals are achieved through open cooperation and dialogue.

The importance of friends and doing things together also characterises the way Arttu spends his free time. He is an avid futsal player who often goes back to his hometown of Somero in the winter to play with his old friends. Another one of his favourite hobbies is bouldering, which is a form of rock climbing without ropes or harnesses.

No two days are the same

While it’s true that no two days are the same when you’re a Site Engineer, Arttu does have a clear routine at work. He maintains close contact with the Section Manager. He starts his day at work by checking his e-mail. Responding to questions quickly keeps things moving along.

Arttu goes over the schedule in full once a week. The same goes for the costs. This way he is always aware of the progress of the project. A significant proportion of his working hours are spent in meetings with designers and site personnel to ensure that design schedules are aligned with the production schedule and the designs are ready when needed.

Arttu is not alone in his role as Site Engineer. There are altogether five Site Engineers in section 3, each with their own area of responsibility. Their jobs are linked with each other, so they maintain close contact with regard to issues such as traffic arrangements, procurement and quality assurance.

The hours have been fairly reasonable so far, and Arttu doesn’t mind the occasional e-mail or phone call outside his working hours. Some of the tasks can also be performed remotely.

“When you enjoy your work, you’re interested in it even when you’re not at the office,” Arttu points out.

What Arttu finds to be the most rewarding is achieving the set targets — or exceeding them.

“A successful project is a bit like a game of futsal. Scoring the winning goal in the last minute might feel great, but it’s even more rewarding to think of all 10 goals your team scored during the game collectively.”

To wrap up, Arttu has a tip for anyone who might be thinking about a career as a Site Engineer at YIT:

“If you want to learn and develop new ways of working, YIT is an organisation where your ideas will be heard and you will get plenty of opportunities for professional development.”