Jonathan Argue, Technical Support Specialist at Topcon Positioning Ireland, explains how Topcon is supporting the delivery of the first Class Of Your Own (COYO) Design Engineer Construct!® (DEC) learning programme in Ireland.
Project Ireland 2040 is the Government’s long-term strategy to change how investment is made in public infrastructure across Ireland, moving away from past approaches that saw public investment spread too thinly. Perhaps one of the biggest stumbling blocks on the road to this is a dedicated workforce – or lack of it. The construction sector now calls for a new generation of professionals who are able to apply and develop digital skills to meet future demands.
Education and collaboration are key to addressing this gap. That’s why Topcon is involved in education initiatives to raise awareness of the careers available, and promote construction as modern, innovative and forward-thinking to break down traditional perceptions and facilitate a healthy future for the industry.
Design Engineer Construct!®
We recently used the CIF Conference to make a very exciting announcement about the latest of Topcon’s initiatives which confirms our commitment to education. Leading the way in inspiring the next generation, Topcon is supporting the delivery of the first Class Of Your Own (COYO) Design Engineer Construct!® (DEC) learning programme course at Terenure College in Dublin.
Founded by award-winning social business, COYO, Design Engineer Construct!® is an accredited learning programme that has been expertly developed to create and inspire the next generation of built environment professionals.
Through a project-based approach, DEC applies purely academic subjects to the latest construction industry practices. Students on the course gain real-world practical experience and employability skills, opening up the world of possibilities presented by a professional career in construction.
Providing regular practical sessions to support the programme, I’m able to see firsthand why enriching students with real, industry knowledge and skills is so important. At the CIF Conference, I caught up with Nigel Wearen, the first teacher to deliver DEC in Ireland and Alison Watson, MBE, founder and chief executive of COYO on why education initiatives such as DEC are integral to closing the skills gap in the construction industry.
Terenure College sees itself as a very progressive, dynamic school. It wants to be at the forefront of new ideas in education. It’s vitally important that the next generation of workers in the construction industry have the very best education available to them and the Design Engineer Construct pilot learning programme at Terenure College helps provide that. There is a talent gap in Ireland, and this comes from the missing link in our education system and a misconception that the construction industry is stuck in the past. Terenure College works alongside COYO, Topcon and TU Dublin to enhance the curriculum and place an importance on engineering and construction-related subjects, so that students have the full understanding and skills they need to transition into the construction industry. The practicality of the course also gives students access to “real” industry insight – this is key, and the college relies on companies to support its holistic teaching of digital construction.
The pilot is being spearheaded by Nigel Wearen – the Construction Studies teacher at Terenure College. Nigel is being supported in this initiative by Noel Kinane another Construction Studies teacher in the school. Nigel states: “I am a final year student in applied Building Information Modelling & Management (aBIMM) at TU Dublin. In the course of my studies, I have seen the need for a course such as this to be incorporated into second level education. I am fortunate to have a very supportive school and to have been given the opportunity to bring COYO, industry professionals and TU Dublin together and involve them in second level education, which I see as the future.”
Alison Watson, MBE, founder and chief executive of COYO states: “To fully address the challenges of the future, not least climate change, the construction industry needs to focus on resilient buildings and infrastructure to guarantee the future of our communities for the years ahead. Giving young people the opportunity to make informed design, engineering and construction decisions through technology – from UAV site survey to the use of digital modelling tools, AR and VR – prepares them with the knowledge and skills they’ll need in a world that will be very different to the one we knew when we were their age.
“There will be an enormous responsibility on construction professionals in the future and the only way we can achieve the changes that will need to happen is to change the way we educate the next generation. I’m so pleased that Terenure College has picked up the DEC baton and are running with it and well-done Topcon – a huge thank you for helping us to make this happen once again!