3rd June Journal Column

By John Dickson, chairman of the Owen Pugh Group

The civil engineering sector and academia have joined forces to launch a project designed to provide students with a hands-on construction experience, The Constructionarium North East.

The project is set to launch at the Owen Pugh Group’s Marsden Quarry site in South Tyneside on June 27th and will see 24 students from Newcastle University, Newcastle College and TyneMet College team up to construct scaled down versions of the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield, a distinctive modern arched structure, over the five days.

Inspiration for the project came from Constructionarium Ltd, a Construction Industry Training Board based project in Norfolk, that enables colleges and universities to link with the industry to ensure students are able to apply theoretical construction knowledge in a practical, safe and relevant environment. Over the years’ participants have constructed bridges, dams and other civil engineering projects.

With the Marsden Quarry site providing an ideal working environment and with strong support from the education sector, their project partners, Northern Counties Builders Federation (NCBF), the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) and Owen Pugh, the pilot project was given the green light.

It’s great that the go ahead has been given to deliver the pilot in the North East. The project will help to bridge the gap between classroom learning and practical site delivery, which I think is essential when preparing students for working in the industry.

The project will be overseen by a team of experts from the original Constructionarium project and civil engineering professionals from Owen Pugh.  The students will be split into groups of varying abilities from a range of academic disciplines, to create their own 4m long Millennium Gallery which will be showcased at the end of the week.  Students will be assessed throughout the week in everything from management, finances and delivery of the project itself from setting out the foundations through to assembly.

The launch of Constructionarium North East adds to the growth of the very successful Constructionarium project. The students, who have to make all the decisions during the week, undertake all the tasks required to build a scaled down version of an iconic structure. By working with industry professionals in a safe environment, the students will get a genuine taste for the thrills of a career in construction.

Before the event the students will all undertake necessary health and safety training as well as teambuilding, which will be essential in successfully completing the project.

I’m hoping that Constructionarium North East will continue in the future. Project partners are calling for any civil engineering contractors and academic institutes who are keen to get involved to get in touch – after all, this is the perfect opportunity to give young people an insight into what life is really like in the industry.