• 9 January 2017

Constructionarium projects are proving a huge success in positively influencing students towards careers within engineering

In 2007, what started off as a collaboration between Waterman, Laing O’Rourke and University College London has turned into a nationwide initiative which partners academic institutes and businesses in the industry to provide vital construction experience for students.

Constructionarium, which runs every year, offers a week filled with practical experience during which students are tasked with the challenge of constructing scaled down replicas of bridges, buildings, dams and civil engineering projects from all around the world. It is an intensive exercise of advanced engineering which gives the students the chance to put theory into practice, and to network with industry partners.

The construction takes place at the National Construction College in Norfolk, with a second site introduced more recently at Sibbald Ltd in West Lothian.

An intense week

Our Structures team are always keen to take part in this programme. The last Constructionarium week-long initiative saw them join up to 60 Undergraduate students (studying Civil, Environmental and Geometric Engineering) in May 2016 as they undertook a first-hand experience of on-site planning, implementation and decision-making.

Our team acted as resident engineers overseeing the students who are responsible for the management, planning, costing and hands on construction work of scaled down versions of Raverspurn Oil Platform, Brewery Wharf Suspension Bridge, Kingsgate Swing Bridge and The Millau Viaduct. Their objective was to assemble the structures using reinforced concrete, steel and plywood, on time and on budget ready to handover to the client.

Our Bart Borowiak described his experience as “An intense week, but well worth it when you saw the students standing on their bridge deck or oil platform, celebrating like they just won the Olympics.”

Practical training opportunities

The initiative has also gathered political interest with Cabinet Secretary for Training, Youth and Women’s Employment, and Angela Constance MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament) visiting the UCL’s Construction and Surveying students, where they emphasised the importance of giving students practical training opportunities in combination with academic skills.

Helen Blacker, Senior Associate Director within Waterman Structures, commented, “As a UCL graduate myself, I think it is a fantastic way to build links with the university and to spot student talent. In one week on site the students learn more from the practical experience than they could in the class room environment.

Constructionarium also helps to train our graduates, who have to think quickly on their feet to deal with the inevitable mistakes the students make, and helping to solidify what they have learnt in the work environment since leaving university.”

For more information on how to get involved, contact Helen Blacker: helen.blacker@watermangroup.com