Students spend time at Marsden Quarry to gain hands-on construction experience

Engineering students undertake a project at Owen Pughes Marsden Quarry, Whitburn.

Engineering students undertake a project at Owen Pughes Marsden Quarry, Whitburn.

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Students have been given the chance to put their classroom work into practice with the help of a construction firm operating in South Tyneside.

The group of 20 from Newcastle University, Newcastle College and TyneMet College were tasked with carrying out projects at Marsden Quarry in South Shields.

Engineering students undertake a project at Owen Pughes Marsden Quarry, Whitburn.

Engineering students undertake a project at Owen Pughes Marsden Quarry, Whitburn.

 Their work was carried out as a joint venture between the education establishments and Owen Pugh, which is currently operating on the site, in the region’s first Constructionarium North East project.

The scheme aims to give students studying construction the chance to gain hands-on experience in their chosen field and an insight into their future careers.

 Owen Pugh first began to look at the idea of establishing an outdoor construction classroom 18 months ago after being inspired by Constructionarium Ltd, a project that has operated successfully from Bircham Newton, in Norfolk, for the past 10 years, which enables academic institutes to link with industry to ensure that students are able to apply theoretical knowledge in a practical, safe and relevant environment.

 The project is being supported by Northern Counties Builders’ Federation (NCBF) and the Civil Engineering Contractors’ Association (CECA), who have provided funding alongside Owen Pugh.

“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.”

John Dickson

Ahead of the project’s start, the group underwent training in site safety, including dynamic risk assessments, understanding of site risks and method statements and exercises designed to encourage team working.

Edward Lattimer, who 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.”

During the pilot, students were split into two groups of varying abilities and from a range of academic disciplines to create a scaled-down version of the arched Millennium Gallery, in Sheffield.

Students were assessed throughout the week in areas including management, finances and delivering the project itself from setting out the foundations through to assembly.

The pilot was 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.”

Any civil engineering contractors and academic institutes who would like to get involved in the project is asked to email Jan Elliott on jelliott@owenpugh.com