Sam sets his sights on the construction industry

Sam has plans to work in the construction industry and after visiting the University at an Open Day he knew he wanted to study our BEng (Hons) Civil Engineering course.

It's worth visiting an Open Day

Sam Szczepanski chose to study BEng (Hons) Civil Engineering at the University of Derby after visiting an Open Day. He is from Derby but he still thought it was a good idea to book on to an Open Day which he believes was worth it as “the student ambassadors welcomed me, and I was shown around the sports facilities at Kedleston road and then the Markeaton Street campus which is where Civil Engineering is based. The lecture theatres and the computer labs caught my interest however, it was the construction labs which impressed me the most. A member of staff showed me the impressive equipment in the lab and gave me a presentation demonstrating the modules I would be studying within the course.”

Excellent facilities

Sam enjoys learning in the facilities as the “Markeaton Street building is very modern, and the classrooms and lecture theatres are a comfortable learning environment. There are many computer labs to use for online work which are open until late and perfect for working on projects or coursework. The construction labs are great for tutorials and practical learning. They are run by technicians who are subject specialists and are always happy to help you with work. They work closely with students which makes the labs a key learning area. Students learn to put theory into practice by mixing concrete, building walls, surveying, and understanding fluid mechanics. The labs have equipment which, once taught how to safely use can be borrowed. There are libraries on the Kedleston road campus and Britannia Mill which are located very close to Markeaton Street. Students can borrow books, order them online to collect and even request the library to purchase a book to be added to the library. There are canteens and cafeterias on all campuses. The wellbeing and the student employment teams are available for advice and support and can be contacted via email or telephone or by visiting the centres on campus.”

A student surveying the river using a range of equipment

Just the right balance

Sam is glad that he decided to join the University as he feels that he will graduate ready for the world of work. He feels that the course has a “great balance between theory and practical work and this will help me prepare for the workplace. The wide range of topics gives me many options to specialise in and gives me a taste of many trades of construction.” He also believes that the “online aspect of the course prepares students for the future of construction by learning and trying out the latest online applications and techniques which, in the future, will be a necessity on construction sites.”

The Civil Engineering course covers a range of subject areas including mathematics, construction techniques, surveying, materials, and structural engineering. Sam is also glad that “we also spend time in the construction lab where we can put theories to the test and build things ourselves.” This helps students to learn in a practical way. To ensure our students are learning relevant content they also use CAS (Computer aided Design) which is an “application used worldwide in construction projects to map, plan and design. As online work continues to have an increasingly prominent role in the built environment it is very useful to familiarise ourselves thoroughly with this technology” Sam states.

A group of civil engineering students assessing a river

Explore different places

Not only do our students get taught on campus, but they also learn in the field. Fieldtrips start as early as induction week and include places more local and further afield. In Sam’s induction week he “visited Ladybower Reservoir in north Derbyshire where we learnt about surveying and dams. We visited the Humber bridge near Hull as we were learning about suspension bridges. My class spent a couple of days on a residential in Bristol and Cheddar where we visited the Clifton suspension bridge, the Clevedon pier, and the Cheddar caves.” Whilst in Bristol a number of trips were taken to examine the work of the famous civil engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel including the Clifton Suspension bridge and the SS Great Britain the (largest passenger ship in the world built in 1845).

However, Sam’s best trip experience was the “water surveying trip in Matlock Bath. We surveyed the riverbed of the river Derwent using industry standard laser surveying equipment which we were taught to use, and we took readings from a boat on the river. We were also taught water safety including rescuing using a throw rope and carrying people across the river. The best part of the day was swimming down the rapids further down the river, it was a thrilling day full of excitement whilst also getting an understanding of surveying.”

Sam has found all of these experiences very useful so far, as he “plans to become a civil engineer spending time on the construction site. I also have a passion for roads so I would like to explore work opportunities for the highway agency and design roads on CAD or work as an engineer on road and bridge projects.”

Words of advice

Sam’s word of advice to is that “I would recommend to anyone interested in Civil Engineering or a Built Environments course to visit the University on the next open day and taking a guided tour of the facilities. The facilities are great, and the lecturers work very closely with students to support them. I would highly recommend this course to any prospective Civil engineering students.”