Another 25 amazing women aspiring to work in the Construction sector came together at Sibbald’s in Blackridge to complete Women in Constructionarium 2019.  For the 2nd year in a row, Equate Scotland, Constructionarium Scotland, CiTB, Sibbald and AECOM collaborated to provide this hugely successful practical onsite learning experience.

The women students who attended were from 11 different universities and colleges studying a range of built environment subjects.  Split into 3 teams, they each had to build a working wind turbine in just 3 days under the guidance of women professionals Moira Johnstone of Balfour Beatty, Caroline McIlwraith of McLaughlin & Harvey and Dale Lyon of Constructionarium Scotland.

The 3-day course involved a lot of hard work and manual graft and tasks included setting out, groundwork including shovelling, building and framework, re-bar construction, concrete testing and pour, reinforcement, electrics, interpreting drawings, and costing materials and machinery as well as using various tools that none of the women had ever used before.

Established over ten years ago, Constructionarium provides a “hands-on” construction experience for students; where participants work in teams to construct scaled down versions of bridges, buildings, dams, wind turbines and civil engineering projects from all around the world.

Currently only 1.5% of the construction workforce are women and opportunities like Constructionarium are key to attracting women to the Sector.  It’s a chance for the students to apply their theoretical knowledge in a safe environment and ultimately make an informed decision as to whether working onsite is for them.

It is also an opportunity to meet professional women already working in the sector, hearing first-hand positive messages about what its really like to be a women in Construction and how much they each enjoy their job.

The Constructionarium women only experience not only gives women onsite experience but it provides a unique one off opportunity for this number of women to work alongside one another onsite, something they will probably never experience in their professional career again.  Caroline McIlwraith said ‘I’ve worked in the sector for around 20 years and I can count on two hands the number of women I have met working onsite’.  It’s a chance for the women to connect with each other in what is a traditionally male dominated environment.

The feedback from this years’ event, like last year, was 100% positive:

  • 100% rated the experience as excellent
  • 100% stated the course gave them a good insight into what it is like to work onsite
  • 100% stated that attendance at the event has helped them make an informed decision about whether to pursue a career in the construction sector

The women cited the top 4 skills developed during the course as communication skills (96%), teamwork (92%) and technical and decision making skills (88%).  All of which were crucial to successfully deliver a working wind turbine in the given time.

Rebecca Forbes, Edinburgh Napier University Energy and Environmental Engineering student said ‘It was so much fun!  I wish it was longer than 3 days.  I definitely think this has been the most valuable learning experience from STEM’.

Cara Cusick, University of Strathclyde studying Civil Engineering said ‘Amazing experience to be part of.  Cannot value this experience highly enough as it enabled me to really see how I can fit in to a site environment.’

Claire Macleod, Glasgow Caledonian University studying Quantity Surveying said ‘Constructionarium has been a fantastic experience putting theory into practice.  Working to deadlines and making decisions has taught me a lot about how I manage pressure and has confirmed that I would like to work in construction.’