Design, assemble and dismantle project

This project is a hands-on educational scheme developed and implemented by Dr Alireza Behnejad to improve student learning at a tertiary level.


This scheme is based on the benefits of using physical models to understand structural behaviour and construction requirements.

Students participate in a series of group activities to improve their practical knowledge of the design and construction of different structural systems. The project includes the making of miniature models, as well as working with full-scale physical models of prefabricated light weight structures.

The inaugural DAD project in 2014 arose from Dr Alireza Behnejad’s research project, ‘benefits of full scale physical models in civil engineering education’ which found that engineering students show a greater interest in topics which are demonstrated physically rather than being explained using the ‘chalk and talk’ method.

Funding amount



Project programmes


The project provides the ideal educational environment for developing the skills needed in architectural/structural engineering, such as interpreting other people’s ideas, team work, communication and time management. It also involves international collaboration, with students at institutions around the world taking part over the past five years. These have included:

  • Western Institute of Technology and Higher Education in Mexico
  • Ferdowsi University of Mashhad in Iran
  • University of Sao Paulo in Brazil
  • Southwest Jiaotong University in China
  • Universiti Malaysia Pahang in Malaysia
  • Sadjad University of Technology in Iran.

Recognition from distinguished academics

I am the current chair of the Joint Board of Moderators which accredits civil engineering degrees in the UK and their franchised courses overseas. As a person who has devoted a career to engineering consultancy, I am always on the lookout for initiatives that enable students to learn (as opposed to being taught) about structures, how they actually work and are assembled.

This initiative really does tick all of the boxes. It enables collaboration not only between students but across disciplines. It is age neutral and can be used by anyone who is old enough to handle the components. It has already engendered interest from a diverse range of groups being cost effective and intuitive. If ever there was a project that has universal appeal across learning disciplines, then this is it and I recommend it to the Academy.
Professor Nick Russell (Director of Perega), 2014 President of the Institution of Structural Engineers
Professor Nick Russell

Research themes

Find out more about our research at Surrey.