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Constructionarium for civil engineers

London skyline with 'The Gherkin'

The Constructionarium is a national learning facility created for built environment undergraduate students to gain a practical site experience

Spread over six days, the Constructionarium allows students undertaking civil engineering courses the opportunity to develop practical skills and establish working links with industry.

Specifically created for students

Occupying a six-hectare site in Norfolk, the Constructionarium has been specifically designed and built to provide a range of challenging teaching and learning conditions for university students. There are currently 17 work areas including a scaled down river, a lake, stabilised flatlands, mountainous terrain, some dodgy areas of porous strata and high ground water so that a wide variety of projects can be constructed and subsequently dismantled.

There is a growing portfolio of projects for students to undertake. Every project has an accompanying pack which is full of information for students and contractors, such as drawings, guides on risk assessment and guidelines on teaching assessment.

Building bridges

One popular project that students can work on is a scaled-down version of the building at 30 St. Mary Axe, commonly known as the 'Gherkin'. They are set the task to build a three-storey, 12m tall version using pre-fabricated steel elements and have to tie in on-site precast floor elements. Another challenge is to replicate the 2460m long Millau Cable Bridge. Students have to create a bridge with an end and middle span of 5m, 2 concrete piers (3.4m high) and 2 steel pylons (3m high), with a deck of 1.5m wide.

Other projects include the Barcelona tower, Canary Wharf Underground Station, Johannesburg Stadium and East Reef Pier. All projects require students to work within a framework which they are later assessed on, such as working to deadlines, methodology staying within budget.

Practical experience

While learning the theory is essential for engineering students, it is also vital that students are able to work in the field on a range of projects to test and develop the skills learnt in the classroom. This is the aim of the constructionarium, which prepares students for life in industry through this practical experience.

 
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