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Mayoral visit for Texas students

Posted: 25th March 2022

Constructionarium was delighted to host a visit by the Mayor of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, Councillor Harry Humphrey, at its bespoke training facility in Bircham Newton recently.

He had been invited by Constructionarium to meet 37 students from Texas A&M University who were visiting North Norfolk as part of their Construction Science studies. Half of the group have been in the UK since the new year as part of their study-abroad programme. This group were building The Gherkin project - an 11m tall, scaled replica of the iconic London structure. The other group, which were on an International Field trip, arrived on Saturday morning (12th March) and after meeting with the study abroad group headed to Norfolk to complete a scaled replica of France’s Millau Cable Bridge.

Ahead of the visit, the Mayor had read a number of case studies on Constructionarium’s website featuring Texas A & M University students who had previously attended and was expecting to be impressed. He commented, “Constructionarium is a superb facility that gives students the opportunity to put their learned theories and skills to work on scaled projects with all the practical constraints of budget, project planning, timelines, teamwork, completion deadline and strict site safety rules”. He went on to say, “It will inspire the next generation of contractors, architects, designers and engineers.”

After the formal introductions, the Mayor was escorted to the viewing gallery to oversee the impressive facilities that Constructionarium has created. He heard about future plans for decarbonising the site and current projects; as well as the plan to develop new NetZero projects. One of these projects will be available for local residents and organisations who wish to find out more about solar technology following funding through the West Norfolk Plan For The Future grant scheme.

He was pleased to hear that local colleges will also get the opportunity to attend Constructionarium to complete a rail project. This will support their studies and enable students to gain valuable employability skills.

The Mayor was taken on a tour of the site to meet students and staff from Texas A&M University. Professor Steve Rodgers, Professor of the Practice, said “I am very pleased that the Mayor showed so much interest this unique learning experience and the difference it makes to students not only in the UK but also on a global scale. It was particularly good to hear the students recount to the Mayor how they had tackled their projects and describe the challenges they had faced during the week.”

During the week, the students had to work in their teams as a mini construction company, to complete their projects on time and to an agreed budget, reporting each evening to a “client” as to their progress. Both projects were completed on time, with the Millau Cable Bridge being finalised ahead of time, in an extremely precise build – something industry would have been proud to have completed! The Mayor, who has an engineering background congratulated the bridge builders on completing their project a day early in record time.

The Mayor was introduced to Leslie Feigenbaum, Associate Dean for International Programs and Facilities & Senior Lecturer at TAMU, and asked if the Constructionarium offer was of good value. He said, “Well, we keep coming back and think very highly of the opportunity the facility offers, so yes, very much so”.

Industry recognises that there will be a significant skills shortage over the next decade and Constructionarium can provide the opportunity for academic institutes to integrate practical learning into their teaching. With projects that are aimed at FE and HE students, the construction and employability skills gained at Constructionarium are unique in their scale and offering.

Constructionarium (a not for profit organisation) has sixteen civil engineering projects, of varying complexities in its portfolio, which provide experiential learning to students following built environment courses or employees working within the industry, at its bespoke site in Bircham Newton. It also offers a range of CPD and CITB Approved health & safety, technical and net zero training.