Testimonial: Noelia Lawson

Student – University of Leeds

I was always drawn to the practical side of construction so I heard about Constructionarium when I was choosing my degree and this was one of the reasons I picked the Civil and Structural Engineering degree at the University of Leeds. I got the opportunity to take on the Brewery Wharf project at Constructionarium at the end of my second year where we were supported by JN Bentley.

Despite being June the weather was absolutely awful with never-ending rain and mud so deep that we had to borrow wellies. This really affected our progress on the project and although we made up time wherever we could, unfortunately we weren’t able to finish by the end of the week. We did however, learn some things we hadn’t expected to, like how mud impacts foundations and how to pour concrete in heavy rain!

I was appointed Health and Safety manager for the team and it was my responsibility to look out for safety issues over the week and report any near misses. The poor visibility and mud made this especially important and being on site and seeing the huge machines up close brought it home to me just how dangerous they have the potential to be!

I feel that Constructionarium is a great opportunity to test out how you would cope in a site based role in real life. It creates a very even playing field as when you are on site everyone is at the same level and you are judged on what you know and how you perform rather than how loud you can shout. My team were working together for the first time but we bonded quickly and worked well together. When we fell behind schedule we were all open to trying out different ways of getting back on track and we learnt how to communicate with each other and avoid disputes.

One of the main skills I learnt was how to read a drawing. At uni we normally produce the drawings from the technical information we have but on site we had to read and decipher the drawings ourselves. This experience made me realise what it is like for the people who have to use the drawings that you have designed and I will certainly make my drawings more clear in future!

I would recommend Constructionarium to anyone, it is similar to a Duke of Edinburgh type experience as you come back from the week as a changed person! I was really surprised at how enthusiastic people stayed despite the weather and I was lucky enough to be offered a summer placement with JN Bentley at the end of our week so I will have the chance to spend 6 weeks over the summer shadowing a Quantity Surveyor before returning to university in September.