Published: 21 January 2020

Membrane workshop visit highlights practical and business aspects of design

MSc students in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering saw how conceptual designs are translated into real spatial structures when they visited SD Sails’ specialist membrane workshop, in December.

Membrane workshop visit

As part of their module on Spatial Structures, the students had the opportunity to see how tensile membrane structures are developed for different purposes, and got a unique insight into the business forces which can affect structural engineering projects.

Visiting SD Sails in Horsham on 2 December, the students were shown the whole fabrication process, from designing a membrane structure using a CAD program through to material selection and cutting out in the workshop, welding or sewing, and finally the product being refined and sent for assembly.

Membrane workshop

Student Raymond Lam said: “The visit demonstrated the importance of understanding not only the theory but also the practical implications of turning a design into reality. In addition we learned about the business aspects, which are not usually taught on civil engineering courses but need to be taken into account when designing. For example due to Brexit, the prices of materials shipped from France is unknown, leaving the company in a state of uncertainty. The visit definitely improved our perspective on the industry.”

Students can choose to study the Spatial Structures module on Surrey’s MSc Advanced Geotechnical Engineering, MSc Civil Engineering, MSc Structural Engineering, and MSc Infrastructure Engineering and Management.


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