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Undergraduates put theory into practice in DAD Project 2017

Civil Engineering students rose to the challenge of designing and constructing a full-scale lattice structure in this year’s DAD Project – a unique learning opportunity which puts students’ teamwork and communication skills to the test.

The winning team with (far left) film director Omid Nooshin who assessed the students' short videos, and (far right) Brian Linton, Engineering Manager of Novum Structures UK Ltd.

The annual DAD Project, organised by the Spatial Structures Research Centre within Surrey’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, challenges groups of students to Design, Assemble and Dismantle (DAD) a full-scale lattice structure, using a selection of components, within a two hour timeframe.

Over 60 students gathered on campus on 15 to 16 May for the building challenge, which was the culmination of an extensive process which included laboratory testing, having the designs checked by another group, and making a short video of their project. The teams were judged on their design creativity, construction management skills, and health and safety considerations.

The group with the best overall performance – consisting of Jason Ridley (project manager), George Herring, Sarah Grey, Gurbandurdy Myradov, Alexander Strickland, Alec Smith, Matthew Merton and Kelvin Smith (safety officer) – were presented with certificates and Amazon vouchers on 24 May.

The prize was sponsored, for the third year running, by Novum Structures UK Ltd. This year also saw the DAD Project going international. Students at the Ferdowski University of Mashhad in Iran and the West Institute of Technology & Higher Education in Mexico took part in the project and – to further challenge students’ communication skills – one group from each university swapped their design with one group of Surrey students.

The DAD Project was developed by academic Alireza Behnejad to give Civil/Architectural Engineering students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience of working with a physical model, helping them to get a better understanding of the theory behind the practice they are learning. It also provides an opportunity to learn the key skills required to plan, carry out and complete a design project, such as teamwork, communication and time management.

Jason Ridley, Project Leader of the winning team, said: "The DAD project was an excellent opportunity to combine our practical and theoretical skills, and also gave us a chance to work within a team to fulfil a given brief, reflecting the work we can expect to carry out in our future careers. I'd wholeheartedly encourage anyone considering Civil Engineering to take part in it."

Dr Tony Thorne, Director of Learning and Teaching for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, commented: “The project is important to introduce the students to group and teamwork at an early stage.  This aids them in communicating, problem solving, organising and completing a group task successfully.  With the inclusion of departments from Mexico and Iran they are now getting used to international collaboration and interpreting the designs of others whilst they construct another country’s designs.”

Find out more about the DAD Project and see videos of the students in action at the DAD Project Facebook page.

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