Twenty construction students have had a first-hand insight into their future career in the sector, having taken part in the region’s first ever Constructionarium North East project.
Students from Newcastle University, Newcastle College and TyneMet College teamed up to construct scaled down versions of the distinctive arched Millennium Gallery in Sheffield, as part of the pilot project designed to provide students with a hands-on construction experience.
The project, a collaboration between industry and academia, took place at The Owen Pugh Group’s Marsden Quarry site which became an outdoor construction classroom.
Owen Pugh first started investigating the idea some 18 months ago, having been inspired by Constructionarium Ltd, a project that has operated successfully from Bircham Newton in Norfolk for the past 10 years. The original project was designed to provide colleges and universities with links with industry to ensure that students are able to apply theoretical knowledge in a practical, safe and relevant environment. With support from the academic institutes and Northern Counties Builders Federation (NCBF) and the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), who alongside Owen Pugh provided funding, the project was given the green light.
During the pilot students were split into two groups of varying abilities and from a range of academic disciplines to create the 4m long structure which was showcased at a celebration event for the industry at the end of the week. Students were assessed throughout the week in areas including management, finances and delivering the project itself from setting out the foundations through to assembly.
Karim Fayaz who acted as project manager during the pilot and who has just completed a BEng Civil and Structural Engineering course at Newcastle University, said: “As project manager for Team 1 at Constructionarium North East my experience was challenging, demanding and a learning curve. I had to mix and work with a diverse team and make sure I applied my knowledge to achieve the end structure.”
Vikki Smith-Shaw who undertook the role of construction manager during the project and has recently completed a Level 1 Diploma in carpentry and joinery at TyneMet College, said: “It’s been the best experience. As a mum of five it’s been brilliant doing something for me. I really enjoyed going into Newcastle University for the training day and being on site mixing with a range of people with both practical and management skills. It’s taught me the importance of teamwork and I’ve enjoyed seeing both teams succeed.”
Edward Lattimer who also acted as construction manager during the project and has recently completed a Level 1 Diploma in carpentry and joinery at Newcastle College, said: “Constructionarium North East was a good opportunity to see how different parts of the construction industry all fit together. It’s provided an experience that you just can’t get in a classroom environment.”
The pilot will be overseen by a team of experts from the original Constructionarium project and civil engineering professionals from Owen Pugh with support from BAM Nuttall and Seymour CEC Ltd.
John Dickson, chairman of the Owen Pugh Group, said: “The Constructionarium North East pilot has been some 18 months in the making and I can speak for all of the project partners in saying it’s been a huge success.
“The students demonstrated real commitment and hard work throughout the week and should be really proud of their finished projects. The ethos behind the scheme is to bridge the gap between classroom learning and practical site delivery, essential when preparing students for working in the industry, and if this week is anything to go by those involved are all destined to enjoy successful civil engineering careers in future.
“There’s nothing else like this Constructionarium that is accessible to students here in the North East, and we hope that with the support from the sector and academia that the pilot can become a long-term project that many students can benefit from for years to come.”
Project partners are calling for any civil engineering contractors and academic institutes who are keen to get involved to get in touch. Anyone interested should contact Jan Elliott from the Owen Pugh Group on firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.