A high impact, transformational learning experience awaits construction science students who participate in the Texas A&M London study abroad program, which is renowned by industry professionals and students alike, according to Steve Rodgers, study abroad faculty director for the Department of Construction Science.
The program features an intense mix of rigorous academics, a firsthand view of British construction practices from numerous job sites and builders’ office visits, field trips to iconic British historic and cultural sites, and internships with leading construction firms.
Students also apply what they’ve learned by building scaled-down versions of bridges, buildings, dams and civil engineering projects from all around the world at the Constructionarium, a 15-acre site in northeast England.
“Our study abroad program is recognized as unique by the British educational professionals, industry, professionals and legal experts who review it,” said Rodgers.
“The students’ questions were excellent, and they were an inspiring bunch,” said Tom Owens, a London construction barrister who hosted a visit from Rodgers’ group.
Students also impressed A.T. Crichton, director of Kirkaldy Testing Museum, who hosted a tour.
“The group was so engaged,” said Crichton. “We were all disappointed when it came time for them to depart.”
During the semester in the UK, students received an overview of industry ethics, were introduced to basic legal topics, received an overview of project decision-making and risk analysis, and learned about adapting to jobsites in international environments.
Students even had occasional celebrity encounters in London on their way to visit a construction site or legal office.
On one trip, Beau Fasler and his fellow students thought they saw royalty on a routine traffic stop.
“It was the Queen and Prince Charles casually cruising by!” said Fasler in a student study abroad blog. “As the Queen passed, she smiled, waved, and gave a firm gig’em, although the latter may be up for debate.”
One of the highlights of the students’ study abroad London program is the British Life & Culture class, led by Alan Hertz, a Cambridge-educated American who grew up in Pakistan.
Students learn about British contributions to the development and legacy of architecture and engineering as well as the similarities and differences between British and American culture.
“Your construction site visits, trips to the supermarket, your adventures on the Underground, even your sessions at the club or pub should provide material for class discussion,” said Hertz in the class syllabus.
In the program’s final academic week, students served as project managers, safety officers, accounting and scheduling heads to build a scaled-down replica of The Gherkin, a distinctive London skyscraper, and the Millau Viaduct, the world’s tallest bridge.
They took on the tasks at Constructionarium, which provides students with a “hands on” construction experience on a 15-acre site in northeast England.
Texas A&M’s construction science students are the only U.S. students who build structures at the site.
In addition to studying in the U.K., students from the College of Architecture also learn in semester-long, study abroad venues in Italy, Spain, Germany and in shorter programs in China, Japan and Costa Rica.