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First Year students on their surveying field trip in Wales.

Geology

Second year students on their Geology field trip.

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Second year students on their Constructionarium field trip in Norfolk.

Surveying

First Year students on their surveying fieldtrip in Wales.

Constructionarium

Look what we built! Second year students on their Constructionarium field trip in Norfolk.

Combining a knowledge of key theoretical fundamental principles with skills and judgement acquired from controlled practical experiences is important for the training of competent civil and environmental engineers. For some subjects, the appropriate educational experience may be had from laboratory work or computer simulations; but for others, the only really effective vehicles for integrating theory and practice are field courses and visits. A number of these are run throughout the MEng course.

During the first year there is a one-week residential Surveying camp. In Year 2 there are two one-week field trips, one in Geology, the other the Constructionarium.  In addition to these, there are a number of visits associated with various elective courses offered in the Third and Fourth Years.

Fieldtrip examples

Surveying

During the spring term, students are introduced to the basic principles of Engineering Surveying and learn basic surveying techniques, via lectures and practical sessions around the College campus. This prepares them for the one-week residential course, which is normally held at the Stackpole Outdoor Learning Centre in Wales.  Students are required to pay accommodation, food and travel costs associated with this compulsory activity prior to attendance, which currently runs at £200 per person.

Students work in small teams to carry out all the surveying and alignment design work required to set out a new road. This includes reconnaissance, control survey (GPS survey, traversing and levelling), detail mapping (stadia tacheometry and total station survey), plan (map) compilation, environmental appraisal, road planning, alignment design, setting out and determination of the quantity of earthworks. 

Geology

The Year 2 module in Soil Mechanics and Engineering Geology includes a one-week residential field course which is usually held in Somerset, at the beginning of the summer term. The course emphasises the importance of geology and the geological environment to civil engineering design. In particular students are taught how to identify and apply an appropriate geological model, undertake a geological hazard and risk assessment and so infer potential engineering geological problems. Students are introduced to several geological field techniques including rock and soil identification and description; identification and analysis of joints, faults and folds; and on-site geological mapping for engineering purposes. Assessment is by means of oral presentations by groups, individual field notebooks and maps.

Students are required to pay accommodation, food and travel costs associated with this compulsory activity prior to attendance, which currently runs at approximately £200 per person.

Constructionarium

Students take charge of their own construction site in the week-long  Constructionarium. The teaching team comprises a contractor (Morrisroe), consulting engineers Expedition Engineering and Imperial's own lecturers, technicians, PhD students and alumni. Students work in teams, as managers and chartered engineers, or specialist or general operatives, answering to a client on time, budget, quality and compliance with contract. They commission plant (cranes and diggers), materials (e.g steel and concrete) and equipment (e.g. power tools). They build projects, often at about 1:10 scale, such as dams, oil rigs, tunnels, towers, bridges and a stadium. Students have a two-day pre-departure briefing,  where they receive a brief from the designer and the client and an experienced contractor. The site is terraformed to suit different projects. Risks are real and must be managed.  Constructability of designs is a key concept learned. Confidence as an engineer is a key employability outcome.  Piloted in 2003 by Imperial College, the learning model has  been adopted by many other Universities across the UK. In 2011, nuclear power station construction was added to the portfolio and Imperial works closely with Cogent and CSkills, sector skills councils, on developing the Constructionarium to enhance engineering education.

Students are required to pay accommodation, food and travel costs associated with this compulsory activity prior to attendance, which currently runs at approximately £200 per person.