CIOB Student challenge – 25th Anniversary

On Wednesday 9th March two teams of students from the Built Environment and Civil Engineering division took part in the Chartered Institute of Building’s (CIOB) South East branch student challenge.  The challenge is set up in a ‘University Challenge’ style, with questions focussing on construction technology, surveying, history of building, the construction industry and some general knowledge.

The challenge took place at the safari hotel, part of the Chessington Worlds of Adventures resort.  The heats kicked off at 2pm with the first UoB team taking on a team from a contractor made up of trainees, and the Royal School of military engineering.  Unfortunately, our first team were knocked out at this stage despite putting up an excellent fight, they came second in their heat and didn’t make it through to the next round.

The second UoB team went up against another team from the Royal School of military engineering in the second set of heats and managed to beat them in the end despite being close all the way through.  This meant they were through to the semi-finals and were up against yet another Royal School team!  The semi-finals took on a new format, with quiz show style buzzer rounds.  Again they triumphed and were through to the finals!  After the evening meal more delegates arrived to witness the final, University of Brighton team 2 against Royal School of Military Engineering Team 2.  In the end the Royal school took the lead and went on to win but the UoB team were highly commended for reaching the final, especially as they had one fewer team member than all of the other teams.

We will hopefully be back next year to try and take the title, but regardless of who won, the day was great fun with lots of good networking and learning opportunities.

The team members were as follows:

Team 1

Rhys Hooks (2nd year Project Management for Construction)

Tavis Stringer (2nd year Building Surveying)

Alex Wales (2nd year Building Surveying)

Marc Harding (2nd year Building Surveying)


Team 2 (finalists/runners up)

Euan Carmichael (1st year Building Surveying)

Matt Logan (1st year Construction Management)

Max Harris (Final year Project Management for Construction)


Constructionarium – Final day

The final two days of the projects have been as hectic as the rest but the projects are finally finished.

Kingsgate positioned the supports for the bridge, making sure that it pivots correctly, ready for the deck to be lifted in.  In addition, they have had to set out the levels for the earth ramps either side to be formed to access the bridge, the ramp has a more complicated design than a straight ramp, as it has a dog leg return much like a staircase with a landing part way.  The ramps had to be designed at a 1 in 20 gradient to ensure access for all.  Once set out, the amazing digger driver on site was able to construct the ramp for us giving us easy access to the bridge.  Once this was  done the dam which had been constructed earlier in the week was removed allowing the water to flow around the bridge supports.  The final part of the project was to lift the deck and move and position it in place upon the supports, then swing the two halves together and see if they meet – thankfully they did and the bridge was complete!

For the nuclear team Thursday saw the final concrete pour of the week, casting the walls of the reactor building ready for the dome to be sat on top.  The final day consisted of striking the form work of the reactor walls, lifting the done onto some support pillars so that its formwork could be removed, placing the pressure vessel inside the reactor and finally lifting the dome onto the reactor walls, again the students hard work paid off with a good fit on top of the reactor and a successfully completed project.

Finally, the Ravenspurn team cast their deck and assembled the rig.  The rig was lifted into place and positioned and fixed on top of the caisson.  On the last day the dry dock where the rig had been constructed was flooded again ready to float the rig into its final position in the lake.  Unfortunately, the water level did not reach a sufficient level to float the rig and the team were therefore unable to move it to its final position, the intention was once the rig floated, to move it with the aid of ropes into position, and then pump water into the hollow caisson to sink it into position.  It was a shame that this didn’t happen but the students did an amazing job of constructing the rig and the finished project was very impressive.

Overall the week has been a steep learning curve, with lots of new terms, processes and experiences being thrown at the students.  All teams rose to the challenge and exceeded expectations in the quality of the work they produced.  The teams worked brilliantly together and have learnt a huge amount about not only the practical side of construction, but also the design and management aspects and the huge importance of these to the success of a project.


Constructionarium – Mid week update

The first three days of the Constructionarium course have flown by and the projects are really beginning to take shape.  Over the past two days there have been several more concrete pours, with the Ravenspurn Oil Rig team casting the walls of their rig, the Kingsgate bridge team casting their bridge deck and piers and the nuclear island team casting the walls of their chamber.

For Kingsgate there has been some very challenging setting out (positioning of the elements), the deck is cast in two halves and swings together so it is vital that the supports are in the correct place for it to work, this has meant lots of measuring and re measuring to ensure accuracy.  The next stage will be positioning the supports for the deck into the pivoting plate which has been cast into the concrete piers, ready to lift the deck into place at the end of the week.

For the Ravenspurn team the caisson is starting to take shape, with the base slab and walls cast, the next stage is to cast the top deck, remembering to leave a hole which can be used to flood the caisson to sink the rig when in position.  The team have also been working on levelling the base of the lake where the rig will be positioned, this has involved making several boat trips and emptying buckets of ballast to bring the bed to the correct height.  The next stage for the rig team is to assemble the top of the rig ready to lift into place on top of the caisson.

For nuclear island there has been lots of formwork and concrete pours.  The base slab was cast ready for the construction of the formwork for the walls.  The dome, which is to be lifted on top of the walls has also been formed and cast, this took a lot of work to ensure an even thickness of concrete over the entire dome to make sure there were no weak points in the structure.  The team have also been constructing the pressure vessel to sit inside the concrete structure, this has been filled with water and pressure tested to ensure its suitability.

All teams have also met each evening to provide progress reports to the client and the other teams, discussing progress and problems faced, cost and finance and health and safety of their project.

There is still a long way to go before the projects are finished but the students are working hard and the progress has been excellent, with all projects being on schedule for completion at the end of the week.


Constructionarium – Day 1

Constructionarium is a hands on construction experience for students to put theory into practice by running and building their own construction project.  This week all first year built environment students are taking part in the programme working in teams to build three projects which include a scaled down version of Ravenspurn oil platform, Kingsgate footbridge and a nuclear facility known as nuclear island.  The work takes place at the national construction college in Norfolk, which is the largest of its type in the world.

Work began on site at 07.45 with the three teams preparing programmes, method statements and risk assessment which needed to be signed off before work could start, by lunch time paper work was complete and work on site began.  Each group has a variety of tasks, Ravenspurn needed to pump the dry dock where they are building their rig of water, prepare shuttering and steel work and just as the sun was setting had concrete delivered for the first pour of the week!

Kingsgate had to build a damn across their body of water and pump one side dry so they could begin construction of the piers later in the week, their first attempt wasn’t stopping the water from re-filling the dry side so adjustments had to be made – providing a great problem solving exercise in real time.  Other tasks involved setting out the position of the bridge and building formwork ready to cast the concrete elements later in the week.

Finally, nuclear island had to prepare their formwork, set out the position of their reactor and excavate for the base to be cast as well as begin the steel work.  This team have the added complication of a secure site – replicating the real life obstacles that they may face, this means that they have a gate person monitoring who is on site and granting access only to those who need to be there.

Finally, students ended their day with an evening session, working in teams to prepare the programmes for tomorrow activities and reporting to their client on progress made on site today.  All this has made for a long but very rewarding first day on site – check back later in the week for more updates on progress of all three teams.




Trip to Ecobuild in London

On 9th March 40 students and their lecturers visited Ecobuild. Ecobuild is an event which showcases innovation in sustainable methods of construction, design and production. The visit supplemented knowledge being learnt in students’ studies around developing a more sustainable built environment and enabled hands on experience of some of the most up to date technologies, along with some of those seen to be more environmentally friendly such as straw-bale construction.

Timber framing with straw bale infill

Timber framing with straw bale infill

Top awards for University of Brighton researcher

Arman Hashemi[1]

Research into how natural lighting can cut the need for electric lighting by 60 per cent has won a University of Brighton researcher a top award.

Traditional windows produce uneven distribution of daylight in rooms but the innovative daylighting system developed by Dr Arman Hashemi has brought significant improvements.

The research earned Dr Hashemi, Senior Lecturer in the university’s College of Life, Health and Physical Sciences, a Premier Award in the Chartered Institute of Building’s (CIOB) International Innovation & Research awards.

His paper reported on a research programme investigating retrofitted solutions to uneven distribution of daylight in office buildings. Judges said: “The paper provides a significant contribution to current knowledge relating to retrofitted solutions for daylight distribution in office buildings.”

Dr Hashemi, also received the Highly Commended award in Innovation Achiever’s category for his patent-pending product which can reduce heat-losses through windows by an average of 63 per cent. Judges said: “The Advanced Thermal Shutter System is an elegant piece of engineering … the judging panel was impressed by Dr Hashemi’s individual achievement in developing this innovation.”

Dr Hashemi, previously a Postdoctoral Research Associate at University of Cambridge, has worked on a range of award-winning architectural projects and have led or contributed to several research projects on sustainable housing, building performance evaluation, offsite construction and product design and development.

For more information on the CIOB, go to:

Guest lecture on Monday 7th March by John Brooks of Mace

Logistics in Construction by John Brooks of Mace

Monday 7 March, 10-12pm Mithras House, room M218

 Mace is an international consultancy and construction company, offering highly integrated services across the full property and infrastructure lifecycle. This means that Mace offers construction and consultancy services during the design and development of projects and programmes, such as the The Shard and The Olympic Park, as well as providing a broad range of services to clients involved in the procurement and operation of buildings, and, to other construction companies.

John Brooks is the head of the logistics consultancy division. He was the Head Logistics Manager for the Olympics Park Development, and has led a number of innovative projects at London Heathrow’s Terminal 5. The lecture will include lean approaches, the application of Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) principles to construction, along with examples and a question and answer session.  His reflection upon projects such as The Shard, the Olympics Park Development, and Heathrow T5 will be fascinating!

Book your place now!