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Students Experience Industry Placements in Timber Innovation

The Built Environment Exchange (beX) is a partnership of university with industry to develop future skills and talent to modernise the construction sector and increase productivity. It creates opportunities for students , employers and stakeholders to design and collaborate on innovative projects, supervised by research leaders, with access to international partnerships and best practice. The beX scholar opportunities include Innovation Internships, Scholarship and Employability whilst receiving the latest industry knowledge on built environment delivery.

Students from diverse degree backgrounds are eligible to apply to the beX postgraduate scholarship programme for funding to enable them to undertake their degree in a variety of disciplines relevant to their future career ambition in the Built Environment. Three BeX students share their experience of working in Industry here:

Carola Calcagno: 

  • What was the best experience? 

One of the best experience as a beX scholar was the opportunity be involved with the manufacturing process of Tulipwood CLT for the American Hardwood Export Council Multi-Ply project. I learned first-hand how CLT is made at the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre and how supply chains are created, this really expanded my knowledge of the sector.  


  • What new knowledge have you gained? 

I’ve been able to observe the development of a research project from the very beginning to its conclusion, including the manufacturing and testing of the material, and how the relationship between the different stakeholders is organised. This type of experience is not something I thought I would have the opportunity to engage with at University.  


  • How has it shaped your career? 

It increased my awareness about the dynamics behind the delivery of a project and helped me take more informed decisions for my future. I’m certainly committed to more sustainable forms of construction.  


  • How has it exposed you to industry? 

As a result of being part of the research team I have had the chance to contribute to a journal publication on the topic, this was a new experience for me and has helped my understanding of what is required for academic publications and a career in research and innovation.  


  • What advice would you give to future participants? 

Try not to get overwhelmed by the commitment of university life and take time to seize all the opportunities to discover new things.  

Connor McGlade: 

  • What was the best experience?  

Personally the experience I feel I gained the most from was the international internship to the USA. Being exposed to different cultures and working with innovative companies to develop further their products was interesting while challenging. Another highlight was the knowledge exchange week with GSD, working collaboratively with other students help develop my communication skills as well as grow my professional network.  


  • What new knowledge have you gained?  

While conducting my research project with my industry sponsor I investigated the tracking properties of timber I-Joist configurations, while this also furthered my knowledge in the racking capabilities of these diaphragms I also greatly extended my knowledge of finite element modelling in order to validate the computer model to the laboratory results.  


  • How has it shaped your career?  

Being given the opportunity to be part of the beX program built my confidence in my own knowledge will also pushing me further in my career. The experience I was exposed to through the program I believe improved my job prospects.  


  • How has it exposed you to industry?  

Through multiple projects I was exposed to different industry partners, working part time at COCIS as part of my scholarship I delivered a report to the Forestry Commission on the use of homegrown timber for laminated timber systems, through the knowledge exchange week we were introduced to CCG and given a tour of their factory while also being partnered with James Jones for my research project.  


  • What advice would you give to future participants?  

My advice would be that you put in what you get out of this experience, it can open up a lot of opportunities for you if you go for it. The program offers experiences what wouldn’t otherwise be available to you, take as much as you can from the workshops and collaborations but also enjoy yourself!  

Lee Charnley: 

  • What was the best experience? 

During the beX programme, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to help organise and run several STEM outreach activities at a local high school in Edinburgh, where as a cohort of beX students we delivered presentations and mini in-class workshops on various Built Environment subject areas. For me, it was a very rewarding experience as I was able to share some of the knowledge I had gained throughout my studies, whilst also hopefully inspiring some of the school pupils to consider a future career in the Built Environment. 


  • What new knowledge have you gained? 

Participation in beX events and projects over the past two years, including Design Thinking workshops, Entrepreneurial Fitness Programmes and educational site visits to multiple manufacturing facilities throughout Scotland, has allowed me to gain an in-depth understanding of timber systems and modern methods of construction, as well as furthered my knowledge and understanding of collaborative design processes.   


  • How has it shaped your career? 

Having exposure to all the various learning opportunities throughout my involvement with the programme and wider beX community I feel has definitely helped both my professional and personal development. Broadening my understanding of the Built Environment industry and also changing the way in which I view/approach projects and design challenges, taking a much more collaborative approach to working in order to realise efficient and holistic outputs. Knowledge and skills of which I believe will be of great value to me going forward as a graduate Engineer. 


  • How has it exposed you to industry? 

During the past two years I have gained experience of working on some significant and very interesting commercial projects through beX, that have provided exposure to various industry professionals and organisations throughout UK and Europe. A recent personal favourite of which was helping the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) with a UK first of manufacturing Tulipwood Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) for the collaborative ‘MultiPly Pavilion’ project between the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), Waugh Thistleton Architects and Arup, which was showcased at the London Design Festival 2018.  


  • What advice would you give to future participants? 

The Built Environment Exchange is such a fantastic programme to be a part of, not only from the learning and development side of things, but also from a community aspect. Being part of such a diverse but like-minded community of individuals is such a great resource to have and allows for exposure to so many different things. My advice to future participants would be to get involved in as many of the activities, workshops and projects as you can, and grasp any opportunities that may come your way, as it is all great experience and definitely worth it! 


A JJI-Joist is a structurally engineered timber joist, combining high-grade softwood with an engineered composite panel. Using advanced technology these components are combined to produce

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