Construction Live field trip – Day 1

All first year built environment students are away for a week of hands on construction activities at Construction Live, run by Bridgwater and Taunton College in Somerset.

We left on Sunday morning from Brighton, arriving at around 3pm ready for an afternoon of management and leadership skills training at the outdoor activity centre.  In 4 groups the students worked together to accomplish a number of tasks such as getting the whole team over a 10ft high wall, through a spider web of ropes only using each gap once and building a bridge using planks and poles without any one falling off (if they did the whole team started again!).  The tasks allowed the students to plan their approach, think about how they needed to work in a team and listen to all team members.  The afternoon was a great fun activity which really helped with teamwork and management, an essential skill in the construction industry.

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Building Surveying Field Course

The final year Building Surveying students have spent 3 days learning about listed building surveys with Dr Duncan Phillips of Listed Building Surveys

They spent one day in the classroom learning about heritage and conservation  and then one day at a grade II* listed farmhouse in Kent carrying out a survey as if they had been appointed by the client.

In the field they were supported by a large number of consultants including a ‘rot’ sniffing dog who gave their time voluntarily to assist the students in developing skills in this real life experience.

The third day was spent learning about Professional Report writing.

Collaborative engineering in action

A group of our Civil Engineering students visited the site of a flood prevention scheme in West Sussex to gain an insight into what collaborative engineering looks like.

The visit to Clay’s Lake was organised with Mackley and was designed to help students develop their understanding of how theory works in practice.

Civil Engineering student Lottie Ashcroft said “We learned about all aspects of the project, including sustainability, planning and design, whilst gaining an insight into the various job and responsibilities of civil engineers.”

Scott Sedon adds “The visit gave me a good insight of what collaborative engineering work looked like, and also allowed me to question the professionals which increased my depth of understanding of the engineering world.”

David Knapp, Mackley’s Business Development Manager, said: “This is the second group of students to visit Clay’s Lake and both parties have been a credit to the University of Brighton.

“Their collective appetite for learning and passion for civil engineering was very apparent, and it was a pleasure to spend time with them and explain the work we are carrying out.”

You can find out more about the visit here. Or contact Dr Maria Diakoumi ( for more information.




Survey of watercourses

Today Elliot Batty and I visited Hassocks and the surrounding area with Peter King (OART) and Sandra Manning-Jones (Sussex Flow Initiative) on an initial survey of the watercourses. Elliot’s dissertation will be investigating how small upstream flow retardant interventions (using natural materials) may help to reduce peak flood levels in small communities such as Hassocks.


Elliot will be using the facilities at the university to physically model wood debris dams to help identify suitable designs and locations position for these structures, both in Hassocks and in future flood alleviation projects.

Surveying St Batholomews in Brighton

Final year students carried out a survey of St Bartholomew’s Church today in Brighton. In addition to traditional methods of surveying, a drone was used to capture data about the condition of the timbers high in the church roof.

Up for a challenge

img_0467The EWB Challenge provided a great opportunity to experience group work, but with a competitive edge to encourage more innovative, extravagant yet one-dimensional work. Using the resources of all disciplines and experiences there was no idea that couldn’t be achieved and was a perfect chance to unleash all creativity.

Preparation for the work and finals required multiple meetings amongst our group and our assigned tutor. The guidance of our tutor enabled the best of ourselves, our knowledge and our understanding to be extracted and channelled to a development and outcome.

The final itself was a great experience for professional pitching, enlightening to new ideas and concepts to be rivalled with. Having to work effectively with other team members to present our idea and answer the questions to our weakest areas came with many challenges. The challenges it brought across were easily managed and resolved with the great coverage of our disciplinary areas and knowledge.

Overall the opportunity was a great chance to create something with few restrictions and show the best of our abilities through pitching, developments and a final product. The skills obtained through this module and challenge have greatly helped with many tasks and work I have come across to present.

New students visit the British Airways i360

As part of welcome week, new students studying Built Environment and Civil Engineering courses were given the opportunity to visit one of Brighton’s newest attractions and feats of engineering – the British Airways i360 observation tower.

To start, students attended a talk by one of the projects engineers – Nigel Hosker from HOP Engineers. They learned about the history of the site and the process and challenges of building the i360 structure.  The tower is designed as a 162 m (531 ft) tall needle structure with an ascending and descending circular viewing platform with capacity for 200 people. It is Britain’s highest moving observation tower, with a viewing platform at 138 metres (453 feet), and views along the coast, across the South Downs and across the English Channel.

Following the talk, students made their way to the tower to take their flight, this was an amazing experience, especially as many of the students are new to Brighton. It gave them a real appreciation of the city and surrounding landscape and luckily the weather was perfect providing exceptional views.

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.