Calum jetted off to Washington State for his internship in collaboration with the famous Uptic Studios
In the United States, this Architectural Technology student was given the chance to study alongside WSU masters students and conduct research into Cross-Laminated Timber

beX scholar, Calum Stuart, crouched down working on a wood machine

I’m studying a BSc in Architectural Technology

I’m Calum and I’m in fourth year at Edinburgh Napier, studying architectural technology

I joined beX to gain experience within an innovative and progressive learning environment

I first found out about beX from a meeting with my careers advisor about my Saltire application. I was determined to get work experience in summer and was looking at Saltire, amongst others, to take me on after my third year of studies. When my careers advisor told me about beX, she put me in contact with a former scholar, Lee Charnley. Lee explained what the beX programme is and the benefits of joining and then helped me with my application! The help was hugely appreciated. I sat down with lecturers and asked them about the programme, they all showed massive enthusiasm towards beX and told me about the exciting projects they had been a part of. By that point, applying was a no-brainer. I actually ended up spending some time with the same lecturers on my placement, which was good fun. The reason I joined beX was to gain experience within an innovative and progressive learning environment, as well having the opportunity to challenge myself and build my professional network. I definitely managed that.

I was able to get first-hand accounts from experts at the University and in the industry

My placement was at Washington State University (WSU), partly in collaboration with Uptic studios. For the first few weeks of my internship I was based in the WSU Summer Immersion Studio, which was an industry led masters studio. Here, I had the opportunity to learn from WSU architecture students, watching their designs progress daily as well as observing weekly critiques. During the studio time, I also conducted research into Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) which was being promoted for the students to use in their designs as sustainability was a major factor in the brief. The second phase of my internship allowed me to get first-hand accounts from experts at the university and in the industry. I talked to architects and engineers to hear their professional opinion on CLT, challenges their industries are facing and the need for innovative solutions. What’s more, I got to go on several excursions and site visits to get an insight into manufacturing and construction.
My key project while in Washington, was researching CLT. The wood panelling technique has taken a long time to transition into the United States, but it’s starting to gain traction. The construction industry has generally been very slow at innovating with new, sustainable materials such as CLT. Washington is the only state introducing new progressive building codes, this paired with Washington’s natural resources, allows a much larger scope for CLT. Washington has the potential to be at the forefront of not just CLT but construction innovation within the USA.

Getting to see the progression of construction was extremely beneficial

For me, the biggest challenge was being actively involved in the design studio. The plan originally was that the other beX scholars and I would be directly involved in and have technical influence over the student’s design. However, with the studio being part of the student’s masters studies, it wasn’t fair for us to have as much sway over something which was so heavily weighted towards their final grade. So, we assisted where we could and learnt a lot from watching them work.

The most successful part was the networking. I kept in contact with professional I met on excursions and this allowed me to arrange further, more in depth site visits. Getting to see the progression between the first and second visit was amazing and extremely beneficial.

It was a privilege to talk to people who have been at the top of their fields for decadesCalum Stuart, a beX scholar, looking at wood

A highlight that sticks with me is the interviews we conducted. It was a massive privilege to talk to people who have been at the very top of their fields for decades. Very important people who still made time to chat to us.  It was a fantastic opportunity to learn from their vast knowledge and an enjoyable new way of learning. It was an amazing networking opportunity too!

beX has given me more confidence; in pursuing jobs and my career ambitions

I feel the experience has given me more confidence in myself and in pursuing jobs when leaving university, as well as encouraged me to aim higher in my career ambitions and aspirations. I have a better understanding of what direction I want to go in the industry now and I’ve gained a passion for sustainability. It’s made me want to work in an innovative environment and helped me realise the importance of meeting people in the industry and making those links for the future.
The internship has instilled a new thought process, I am more holistic and outward thinking when approaching my studies, which I have utilised during my cross disciplined 4th year project.  I also hope to use what I have learnt on my own project next semester.  

It’s a great network to be a part of

In the short term, I would like to be actively involved with the beX programme as much as I can because it’s a great network to be a part of. I’d also love to be able to give new scholars my help and advice. I plan to use this summer’s experience as much as I can to help push me into a progressive working environment when I leave university. 

Apply! If you don’t ask, you don’t get

Well first of all, apply! If you don’t ask, you don’t’ get. That’s my biggest tip. It’s a fantastic opportunity, it’s a waste to not apply. I would advise to set yourself goals and objectives to work towards, professionally and personally, big or small. It’s an experience which will present many challenges but also so many opportunities. For myself I set professional goals such as learning as much as I could about CLT and developing my industry network. I also set personal goals like trying to see as much of the area as possible before I had to leave. I tasked myself with learning more about photography too. Doing this maximises the benefits of this fantastic programme and also ties in perfectly with blogs, which are a big part of the internship. 
Try and link beX with your studies and, in my case, progression into fourth year. Think about your career aspirations too, it will be a massive benefit in the long run. You will learn a lot about yourself, what your interest are, and your aspirations. I think ultimately, the biggest part of it for me was just figuring out what I wanted to do after university.