Students get to grips with practical engineering skills at Constructionarium
Seven engineers from Waterman Structures travelled to the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) Construction College’s 6-hectare site in Norfolk to assist students from University College London (UCL) as they took part in Constructionarium on 2 June.
The week-long initiative, of which we have participated for the last 12 years, saw around 100 second-year civil engineering students experience construction first-hand by planning and building scale models of real projects. This year the students took on the Ravenspurn Oil Platform, Kingsgate Bridge, the Milau Viaduct and Brewery Wharf Bridge.
Throughout the week, Charlotte Hitchens, Kevin Paldano, Jon Slater, Sam Wardle, Emily Wingrove, Helen Blacker and Huseyin Hussein acted as the Client and Designer for the projects. This saw them guiding the students through the planning and building process, giving technical and contractual guidance, and even getting involved themselves wherever they could. Meanwhile Laing O’Rourke acted as Principal Contractor, and the students took on the role of a subcontractor to build the structures.
On day one each group presented their plans for the week, introducing the roles within the team, the programme, construction methodology and finances, all of which were intended to be representative of a real project. We gave them feedback to ensure they were being realistic and were aware of some of the unique challenges each project could encounter before construction began the next morning.
At the end of each day, the students presented the progress of their respective projects to their ‘Client’ and ‘Principal Contractor’ to assess if they were managing the project successfully, on time and within budget. It also allowed the opportunity to discuss any challenges they may have encountered, such as site constraints, interpretation of the design drawings, material and plant availability, in order to work out alternative practical and design solutions. These changes often had repercussions, altering their budget or programme, which they had to record and present at the end of the week.
Charlotte Hitchens, a Graduate Engineer, commented; “We were very impressed with the enthusiastic way the students approached the challenges they encountered. We all shared a feeling of relief at the end of each successful concrete pour, however stressful it was to get there, it was amazing to see the teams and individuals excel in their roles. The smiles on everyone’s faces at the end of the week with their completed projects was the ultimate highlight! The enthusiasm for their work was rewarded as all the projects were completed on time despite some adverse weather and unamused concrete delivery drivers. This rewarding experience gave the students a real insight into the industry which will hopefully encourage them to become engineers when they graduate, bringing with them the valuable skills they have learnt.”
To find out more about Constructionarium, click here.