Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The London Field Trip 2017

...the first year students on the BSc Construction Project Management and the BSc Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management went on a field trip to London on Tuesday 28 February 2017.

The trip forms the core of the first year integrative project module and is an active learning experience based around visits to a number of active development sites and a self-guided walking tour around specific areas of London, including commercial, cultural and architectural attractions. The field trip and associated investigations feed into the group assignment for the module. This year the students visited three major development sites: Paddington Basin, King's Cross and The City of London. Join us on the site visits and click on the blue links for more information. Photos by Michael Hill.


The Fan Bridge at Paddington Basin

The Rolling Bridge at Paddington Basin

St Pancras station

From St Pancras to the developments taking place around King's Cross

Granary Square and King's Cross

The Gasholders and the King's Cross plan
(the students visited the King's Cross Visitor Centre)

...And over to the City of London. The development site at 100 Bishopsgate


Development at 52 Limestreet (The Scalpel) and 10 Fenchurch Avenue.


Up to Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street - voted the worst building of 2015
and known as the Walkie Talkie)


Visit to the offices of Turner & Townsend at One New Change for networking and food.

The day finished with a walk across the Millennium Bridge for a look at the Tate Modern  and the new extension which was completed in 2016.


For more information about our courses take a look at our website.



Monday, February 27, 2017

MSc PMBE: best student prize and profile

The annual prize for best all round student on the MSc Project Management in the Built Environment (PMBE) is sponsored by Bidwells, one of the UK's leading property consultants which was established in Cambridge in 1839. This year, the prize was awarded to Alaa Karrar, who started the MSc PMBE as a distance-learning student in September 2014 and completed his MSc in January 2016. Derek Farrow, Partner at Bidwells, presented the prize.


The 'before' shot, featuring (left to right): Derek Farrow, Alaa Karrar, Joe Tah (Head of School)
and Mark Austin (PG Programmes Leader)

The 'handshake' shot...same people, more serious.


After I'd taken the photos, I caught up with Alaa and he kindly agreed to answer my questions...

What is your background and why did you choose to go into Project Management?
For my undergraduate course I studied Accounting & Statistics. The degree was number based with intensive use of Excel. Upon graduation, I was aware a career in Accounting was not for me. I took the CELTA course, which allowed me to teach English to non-native speakers aboard. I worked in the Middle East for two years as an ESL instructor. It was during this period that I became aware of big scale construction projects and wanted to be a part of it.

Why did you choose the MSc PMBE at Brookes?
The MSc PMBE is well recognised and so is the School of the Built Environment (particularly Construction!) The course is also accredited by the RICS and CIOB, which is a major differentiator especially when entering the job market. The university ties with the industry also helped; as industry recognition is just as important as the academic element.

What was it like when started the course?
The induction onto the course is a clear and easy process. Within the first week of the course there was a social evening, where staff and students went out for an evening meal, this really helped in the settling in phase. But also set the tone that our studies were student focused and demonstrated the friendly and approachable nature of staff.

Looking back over the course, what have been the highlights? And the most challenging bits?
The highlights have been the opportunities to network with industry professionals through networking events, conferences, presentations and site visits. I was surprised by the regularity, but also the level of seniority the university could attract to give special lectures and presentations. I recall when Laing O’Rourke came to give a presentation just how many of their senior staff attended the event. The topic was modular construction and virtual reality, a futuristic look at construction. There were challenges in accessing resources to support and complete work (as a distance-learning student) but the university does have a lot of support for students.

Bearing in mind your experience, what advice would you give to someone starting the course?
I would tell any would-be student to really make an effort to attend the construction events the university hosts. I felt this was a key aspect in securing work, meeting contacts and developing networks. During the Laing O’Rourke event I recall an opportunity presented itself to do some Synchro training, during a discussion with one of their senior managers. I found these types of opportunities present themselves to those who are willing to engage and be interactive during the events.

Which subject area did you focus on for your dissertation and why?
My dissertation title was ‘Building Information Modelling Adoption Strategies: A SMEs Perspective’. During the course, I became intrigued by the role technology should play in the industry and specially for SMEs (80% of businesses in construction are SMEs).

What have you got planned for the next 5 years career-wise?
I have managed to secure a job as a Quantity Surveyor with Galliford Try, I have also enrolled with the RICS and am currently undertaking my APC, I hope to achieve my chartered status in the coming years.

Find out more about our MSc courses below...
MSc Construction Project Management
MSc Project Management in the Built Environment
MSc Building Information Modelling and Management
MSc Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management

And take a look around the blog (using the index) for more information on what actually happens!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Belgium and The Netherlands 2017: the postgraduate story...

The School of the Built Environment runs 4 postgraduate programmes in construction: MSc Construction Project Management, MSc Project Management in the Built Environment, MSc Building Information Modelling and Management and MSc Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management. All the programmes are available as full-time or open-learning (a combination of online learning and on-campus study weeks).

A few of the MSc students at the Museum aan de Stroom

The field trip to Europe is an annual event which brings together full-time and open-learning students from across the 4 programmes. The aim of the field trip is to integrate knowledge gained in the early part of the programme, to develop team skills and to build relationships. During the European field trip students are exposed to project management practices outside of the UK and are asked to observe and report on the different approaches to project management in the UK and overseas. Site visits are backed up with a series of presentations from local experts focusing on: planning strategy, sustainability and urban design considerations, the mix of dwelling types, retail and community buildings, infrastructure plans, planning for flooding/rising sea levels, and sustainable and innovative building technologies.

And so we come to the 2017 field trip. As usual, the postgraduate students joined the undergraduate students in construction to travel to Belgium and The Netherlands, but once again this year there are two blog posts as the itineraries had a different focus. This is the postgraduate story (photos by Esra Kurul). Click on the blue links for more information.

After crossing over to Belgium on 22 January, the first stop was in Antwerp for a visit to the Antwerp Central Rail Station and the Museum aan de Stroom. The award-winning redevelopment of Antwerp Central Rail Station manages to combine old (the original late 19th century building) with new (transforming it from a terminus to a through station suitable for high speed trains). The students moved onto the Museum aan de Stroom which was completed in 2011 and is the centre point of the regeneration of the Antwerp dockside area. The building was designed by Willem Jan Neutelings, of Neutelings Riedijk Architects.

The Museum aan de Stroom (and some climbers)

The students travelled on to Amsterdam, their base for the next few days. The next day featured a carefully planned itinerary shared with the students during the morning briefing...discover the places they visited for yourself by clicking on the blue links. The day started with a presentation at Amsterdam Museum, by Ton Schaap (Amsterdam Development Office) about urban planning and development in Amsterdam and was followed by a visit to see the development at Amsterdam Central Station. The students took a ferry across the river Ij and enjoyed an afternoon tour of the Eye Film Museum and the areas of Eye and Overhoeks, Kraanspoor, Kunststad, Patch 22, Bosrankstraat, finally arriving at De Ceuvel for a look around one of the most sustainable and unique urban developments in Europe (and drinks) before heading back to base.

Presentation at the Amsterdam Museum and the visit to Central Station

Afternoon visits to: the Eye Film Museum, Eye, Eye and Overhoeks, Kraanspoor, Kunststad, Patch 22 and Bosrankstraat

And finally...De Ceuvel

The next day, Tuesday 24 January, and the students visited Rotterdam. They were there to visit the Central Station and also attend a presentation about the building of Rotterdam Central by Ria van Wingerden from Geemente Rotterdam. In the afternoon they went for a look around Markthal (the first covered market in the Netherlands and a beautiful building), and then onto Unielocatie Rotterdam, a visit hosted by JHK Architecten.


Rotterdam Central Station and watch a video of Markthal below...



The final full day in Amsterdam and the students made an early start for a visit to the BAM offices in Amsterdam. After an introduction to BAM from Eelke Stellingwerf, the students were introduced to the ABN AMRO Pavilion Project at Amsterdam Zuid by Henk Rebel. The students visited the project and were introduced to the Project Manager (Nick Jaring). The afternoon was spent in Amsterdam at the Rijksmuseum where the students listened to a presentation about the recently completed refurbishment project before exploring the museum.


Site visit in Amsterdam

At the Rijksmuseum

The last night in Amsterdam

Thursday 26 January and the last day of the field trip. The students left Amsterdam for Utrecht where they had a presentation about the (historic and modern) city of Utrecht and a city tour, before boarding the coaches for the return trip to Oxford. Take a look at Utrecht's bid to be Cycling City 2016 (they didn't win, but it's a great way to see the city)...




Exploring Utrecht

Back to Oxford Brookes. For more information on our MSc programmes in construction, take a look at the following links:

MSc Construction Project Management
MSc Building Information Modelling and Management 
MSc Project Management in the Built Environment
MSc Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management



Sunday, February 12, 2017

Belgium and The Netherlands 2017: the undergraduate story

The 2017 field trip to The Netherlands (and Belgium). As usual, students on the BSc Construction Project Management and the BSc Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management travelled alongside the postgraduate students in construction, but this year there are two blog posts as the itineraries had a different focus. This is the undergraduate story (photos by George Blumberg). Click on the blue links for more information.

Urban reinvention in North Amsterdam

This field trip takes advantages of key aspects of urban design, engineering and construction in the Netherlands and Belgium which make it a unique and powerful living classroom. There are things that planners, architects and constructors do better here than than anywhere else. For example, spontaneous communities centered on the creative industries are often able to bring back to life desolate, semi-abandoned industrial sites.

Urban reinvention is everywhere...in the cities of Utrecht and Breda, the centres are being painstakingly redeveloped to accommodate and encourage modern transport practices shifting away from domination by the car. Cycle superhighways and pedestrian thoroughfares are being introduced which are centred around multi-purpose and architecturally stunning transport hubs. Canals and other green spaces are being reintroduced into city centres to help encourage a richer community life and a better natural environment. To help make sense of the disruption caused by major works, public information centres abound. The staff of these help promote and explain the massive multi-year projects and help with education and community engagement.

Perhaps the most invigorating aspect witnessed during the field trip is the ubiquitous application of artistic and design elements that result in a high-quality, attractive and elegant modern urban environment. In order to get to students to respond and document their visits, they are given workbooks that are then used to create a diary or scrapbook. And on to the trip itself...

After crossing over to Belgium on 22 January, the first stop was in Antwerp for a visit to the Antwerp Central Rail Station and the Museum aan de Stroom. The award-winning redevelopment of Antwerp Central Rail Station manages to combine old (the original late 19th century building) with new (transforming it from a terminus to a through station suitable for high speed trains). The students moved onto the Museum aan de Stroom which was completed in 2011 and is the centre point of the regeneration of the Antwerp dockside area. The building was designed by Willem Jan Neutelings, of Neutelings Riedijk Architects.

Visit to the Museum aan de Stroom

The students travelled on to Amsterdam, their base for the next few days. Discover the places they visited on the second day for yourself by clicking on the blue links. The day started with a presentation at Amsterdam Museum, by Ton Schaap (Amsterdam Development Office) about urban planning and development in Amsterdam and was followed by a visit to see the development at Amsterdam Central Station. The students took a ferry across the river Ij and enjoyed an afternoon tour of the Eye Film Museum and a selection of areas in Amsterdam North.

From Amsterdam Central Station, across the river Ij to Amsterdam North

The next day, Tuesday 24 January, and the students visited Rotterdam. They were there to visit the Central Station and also attend a presentation about the building of Rotterdam Central by Ria van Wingerden from Geemente Rotterdam. In the afternoon they went for a look around Markthal (the first covered market in the Netherlands and a beautiful building), and then on walking tours of the city, ending in Katendrecht, once the 'red light' area, now undergoing redevelopment.

Exploring Rotterdam

Wednesday 25 January and the students left Amsterdam for a trip to the city of Utrecht, visiting the National Military Museum on the way. Once in Utrecht, they had plenty of time to take in the city before meeting at the Infocentre for a presentation about about the (historic and modern) city of Utrecht. Take a look at Utrecht's bid to be Cycling City 2016 (they didn't win, but it's a great way to see the city)...




The National Military Museum

Breda

Thursday 26 January and the last day of the field trip. The students left Amsterdam and headed for Breda, a city in the southern part of the Netherlands, where they visited Breda Central Station for a short presentation from the Lead Councillor for Regeneration and a tour of the station development. The field trip was picked up by the local news channels, who filmed the Central Station tour and interviewed the students about their findings...




And some more news items about the Oxford Brookes students in Breda...
Redactie BredaVandaag (video)
Nu:nl
BN DeStem
BredaVandaag

After a quick trip into Breda itself, the students boarded the coach for the return trip to Oxford. George took lots of photos during the trip and some excellent shots of our students. This is George's portrait gallery:

Our students by George Blumberg


For more information about our undergraduate courses in construction take a look here:




Tuesday, January 24, 2017

5 years of blogging...

One of the first photos to appear on the blog...the Oxford Brookes Real Estate Rugby Team, taken shortly before the 2011 charity match against the University of Reading. We won (36-15) and the event raised over £5000 for charity.

Five years ago we had an idea. And that's how the blogs started...to tell the story of the Department (of Real Estate and Construction). In the end we started two: Hot Property (telling the story of real estate) and Not Just Hard Hats (telling the story of construction). Five years later and now part of the School of the Built Environment, we have a third blog: Planning and Urban Design. Along the way we have told our story and created a history for ourselves. And now the blogs are 5 years old. Thanks to all the people who have helped write stuff, taken photos and supported our work. Here are some of the highlights of the last five years (click on the red or blue links for more information)...

Number of posts: 278
Number of hits (visits): 107, 972 from all over the world

Top three posts on Hot Property:
Regeneration might still come to Morecambe
MSc Real Estate Prize 2012-13: Natasha Sidoli
MSc Real Estate: Lisbon 2016 in numbers...

Top three posts on Not Just Hard Hats:
The Construction Industry: a suitable place for women?
MSc BIMM: Q&A with Henry Abanda
MSc QS and Commercial Management: Q&A with Damilola Ekundayo

Number of field trips: 88 field trips have been documented on the blogs - take a look at the field trip tag on the blogs to find out more.

Number of new courses introduced: 5 (plus our Real Estate Mentoring Scheme)...
MSc Real Estate Investment Finance
MSc Construction Project Management
MSc Building Information Modelling and Management
MSc Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management
MSc Real Estate with 3 pathways: Commercial/Residential, International, Hotel & Hospitality
BSc Real Estate Management Mentoring Scheme

Number of students interviewed: 12...take a look at the student profiles tag on the blogs to find out more about our students and what they think of us.

Number of building moves: 1...it was quite a dramatic move as our old building was demolished to make way for a new flagship building for Oxford Brookes...the John Henry Brookes Building. We documented our favourite parts of the Darcy Building before it was demolished.

Our alumni: many of our students choose to stay in touch with us after they graduate (and become alumni). We have 3 alumni groups on LinkedIn and we also make use of our alumni as guest speakers, mentors and course advisers. Take a look at the alumni tags on the blogs...there are some alumni profiles there too. Those LinkedIn groups:
Construction, QS and Project Management
Real Estate Management
Real Estate Investment Finance

Lots of social events: Real Estate and Construction. 

And my favourite photos...

One of the many snowball fights on the 2013 field trip to The Netherlands

The MSc Project Management in the Built Environment Study Week in March 2012...brick laying workshop

Students showcasing their work at the Industrial Placements Workshop in 2014

The amazing (and unique) Crossrail development field trip

The MSc Real Estate field trip to Barcelona in 2015

The second year BSc Real Estate Management students drawing up a Schedule of Dilapidations in Wantage

The 2016 Oxford Tour. Showing our new students our beautiful city.

Houses marked for demolition in Morro da Providencia. Photo taken as part of the UK-Brazil Urban Network.
Look at the research tags on the blogs for news of other research projects taking place.

The 2016 Real Estate Ball


And finally a video. We try and inspire the students of the future by taking part in the Oxford Brookes Creative Industries Day. The bridge building exercise from 2016...








Thursday, June 23, 2016

School of the Built Environment: Graduation 2016

Graduation 2016 for students in the School of the Built Environment took place on Tuesday 21 June. It was a grey day (no rain though), but the atmosphere was sunny. A very happy occasion. The story of the day in photos (photos by the Ed):

The graduation ceremonies moved to the Sports Hall this year due to the redevelopment work taking place on campus. It was only a short walk from the JHB Building though...

...and just look what had happened to the inside of the Sports Hall. Amazing.

After coming out of the back door and rating their graduation experience...

...they walked over Headington Hill bridge to a reception in the grounds of Headington Hill House. 

The Ed stood on the bridge for a while...

...and took a few photos. Find more in the SBE Graduation Album on Facebook.

Photos in the grounds of Headington Hill Hall.

The Head of School (Professor Joe Tah - in purple) handing out prizes (to students on the BSc Construction Project Management and the BSc QS and Commercial Management). 

Now that you've graduated, don't forget to keep in touch. Join one of our alumni groups on LinkedIn...a great way of keeping in touch with your mates and the School of the Built Environment at Oxford Brookes. We use our LinkedIn groups to post job opportunities, source mentors (for the Real Estate Mentoring Scheme), share news and to use your experiences to inform our course development, so make sure you join!

LinkedIn: Real Estate Management
LinkedIn: Construction, QS and Project Management
LinkedIn: Planning



Monday, May 23, 2016

MSc Building Information Modelling and Management: Q&A with Henry Abanda

The School of the Built Environment has introduced two new postgraduate programmes this year (available for September 2016 entry) which will sit alongside the existing MSc Project Management in the Built Environment and the MSc Construction Project Management.

I had a chat with the subject leaders for both programmes. The Q&A with Damilola Ekundayo (MSc Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management is available here and the Q&A with Henry Abanda, Subject Leader for the MSc Building Information Modelling and Management (MSc BIMM), follows...

Dr Henry Abanda outside the JHB Building

1. What did you study at university? 
When I was in secondary school I wanted to be a translator, but after my A-Levels, I changed my mind to do Mathematics or Physics. I ended up taking a degree in Mathematics (major) and Physics (minor). Upon completion of my degree, I took a year out teaching while preparing for the competitive entrance examination into the only state-run engineering school in my country (Cameroon). The school, École Nationale Supérieure Polytechnique (ENSP) de Yaoundé is one of the best in Francophone Africa. Luckily, I was successful and completed my Diplôme D’ingenieur de Conception in Civil Engineering in 2003. I then worked for two different contracting companies for 2 years executing projects in different regions of Cameroon. It was an interesting experience; however, I have always had the zeal to teach and I left from Cameroon in September 2005 to study in the UK. While in the UK, I started off with an MSc in Environmental Monitoring in Coventry University, and then switched to a PhD in Construction Informatics in the School of the Built Environment in the University of Salford in April 2006. After spending a year in the University of Salford I transferred to Oxford Brookes University where I completed my PhD in 2010. Also, I obtained a distinction in my Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching in Higher Education at Oxford Brookes, based on this qualification, I am now a full member of the UK Higher Education Academy.

2. How did you find your way into Construction at Oxford Brookes?
Whilst I was doing my PhD I became a Research/Teaching Assistant and during this time, I taught Computer-Aided-Design to undergraduate students. When I became a lecturer in 2013, I started teaching BIM modules to both undergraduate and postgraduate students in construction. With the need to meet the demand of construction professionals with BIM skills we (at Oxford Brookes) have introduced two new postgraduate degree programmes with very strong BIM components: the MSc Construction Project Management and the MSc Building Information Modelling & Management. I am the module leader for the BIM modules on both of these, and will also be teaching BIM on the new MSc in Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management from September 2016. My previous industry experience from Cameroon and my teaching experience have enabled me to establish my roots in the domain of BIM and its applications construction.

3. What do you enjoy most about your subject?
The domain of BIM is a major revolution in the construction industry as it cuts across every area of construction. I enjoy the fact that BIM can be used in different construction applications, especially in virtually exploring models for decision-making purposes before constructing the real-life project on site. BIM allows different project stake-holders to work on the same project from different locations...which is a challenge using traditional ways of working. Above all, given the emerging nature of BIM, I have had the opportunity to travel around the world to deliver guest lectures about BIM. The joy of sharing knowledge and empowering the next generation of construction professionals in the UK and abroad is what I like most about my subject.

4. Why did you decide to start the MSc BIMM?
The benefits in managing construction information using BIM can no longer be underestimated. Many governments are now recommending the adoption of BIM on some or all construction projects. In the UK, BIM Level 2 is now mandatory on all centrally government procured projects (from April 2016). The construction industry is changing rapidly and more and more practices are now adopting BIM - the MSc BIMM has been developed to address the demand for BIM professionals and empower our graduates to cope with the increasing challenging construction environments.

5. How does the MSc BIMM fit together?  
Well, as mentioned earlier, BIM cuts across all construction domains. Consequently, there are some core concepts that are taught across all our postgraduate construction programmes and, in addition, the applications of BIM are tailored to meet the needs of the different subject areas (project management, quantity surveying and so on). The MSc BIMM allows students to study BIM in more depth, including information and process management.

6. How is the MSc BIMM taught?
The MSc has been developed with industry practitioners and informed by the competency frameworks of the relevant professional bodies. It is designed to deliver a flexible and innovative programme of study through its intelligent use of the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Students can switch between open-learning and full-time modes of study and the programme brings together both open and full-time learners. The core modules are entirely self-contained so that students may enter the programme at different times of the year. Each of the core modules is designed around ‘learning packages’ delivered through a problem-based learning approach. This applied learning approach is achieved through guided working on real-life or reality-based problems as experienced in the construction industry. An extremely effective way of teaching, it is also more interesting and engaging than the traditional ‘study and examination’ approach. Also, a key component of all the BIM modules is the practical aspect, where hands-on support of the use of BIM and related cloud computing/mobile devices are taught in our state-of-the-art BIM laboratory.

7. And finally, what about links with industry and other institutions?
Through collaboration with governing bodies, advisers from industry, and use of specialist guest lecturers, the academic content of the programme is continuously reviewed to maintain its relevance to industry. I am also involved in a number of organisations to ensure that I am up to date with changes and emerging technologies in the construction industry (take a look at my staff profile for more details).

Thanks Henry. Henry was also involved with the recent Creative Industries Day, which brought a number of schools into the Technology Lab for a series of activities...including a talk on BIM and mobile technology, given by Henry.

Henry inspiring the next generation of BIM students at the Creative Industries Day, May 2016

For more information on the MSc BIMM visit our webpage.