Speaker Profile: Micaela

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Name: Micaela Maccan
Course (and Year): 3rd year Civil and Structural Engineering
Presentation Topic: Constructionarium: a “hands-on” construction experience as part of one of my third year modules, i.e. how we built a 1:20 scale Ravenspurn Oil Rig.

Tell us a little bit more about your presentation.
Level 3 civil engineering students have the amazing opportunity to choose “Constructionarium” as one of their elective modules. The module allows the students to finally put theory into practice. In fact, as part of the module we, a group of 18 students, had to build a 1:20 scale version of the Ravenspurn North oil rig. The very first part of the project involves personal research on the real project and production of a report. The second part is the fun part. We met the contractor, this year was Shepherd Construction: they provided the construction materials and all the PPE we used on site. The construction site field course took place in June 2015 at the National Construction College in Bircham Newton and the length of the experience has been of about 5 days. We have been guided by experts working for both Constructionarium, which is actually a non-profit organisation, which makes these kind of experiences possible, and Shepherd. What we basically did is building a 4.5m high replica of the real project from scratch. Going slightly more into detail: the structure included a 4m square single cell insitu reinforced concrete box-caisson, a steel scaffold superstructure and a plywood platform. Once finished, the platform has been towed out to a specified location into a 2m deep lake and sunk onto a prepared gravel foundation. Each one of us had a precise role: I was the Health and Safety Manager for the project. Despite the limited time, the project has been successfully delivered!

Why did you choose to take part in this project / take on this role?
I chose to be involved in this module because it is definitely something different from all the other “standard” modules. It has been very challenging but it made me gain great insight into what a real construction project is.

What has been the best part of your student engagement experience so far?
Definitely the connection that I have been able to create with my coursemates.

What would you say is the most important thing you have learned?
Being involved in this kind of project made me realise how important communication between all the members of the group is. It is essential to have different people playing different roles but it is even more important to get everyone to communicate with each other: that s the first main step to lead the project to success.

How have co-/extra-curricular opportunities enriched and broadened your degree?
All these different opportunities enriched my degree by making me understand what I really like doing and what I don’t, as well as showing me one of the possible realities that I am going to face as soon as I graduate. I understood that my kind of degree can be used in many different fields though and I don’t need to limit my possibilities.

How has getting involved in co-/extra-curricular activities at university helped you with future career goals?
I think that every kind of opportunity I have taken up to now have helped my career goals by giving me new skills and making me understand what I really like doing and what I don’t. Engineering is based on group work: I have gained great group working skills and communications skills thanks to the different projects assigned during my degree and the extra-curricular opportunities like last year’s Intercultural Ambassador Project, where I worked together with my group to organise an event focused on human trafficking.

Why is the University of Leeds such a good choice for student engagement?
The University of Leeds is the perfect choice for student engagement because students are surrounded by amazing lecturers and professors who are world experts in their field and who are entirely available to them. Students should recognise and acknowledge this privilege.

Why should every student get engaged at Leeds?
I think engagement is equal to gaining new skills, which are essential for your time at University and most importantly for your future career. Also, as an international student, I can assure that engaging in co and extra-curricular activities is an easy way to better integrate to a new culture and society.

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