Meet Greg

Greg chats about what it was like in Canada on his ten-week placement

Fourth year Civil Engineering student experienced hands-on research work during his summer placement at the University of Laval in Quebec, Canada

beX student Greg smiles for the camera whilst measuring wood and taking notes

I’m going into my final year of study for my BSc in Civil Engineering My name is Greg and I will be going into my final year of study as a Civil Engineering student at Edinburgh Napier University.
I joined beX because of my interest in sustainable construction I found out about beX in my third year at university. I was involved in the Edinburgh Napier Civil Engineering Society and found myself moving towards the sustainable construction route within the built environment because the challenges we face as a society within the sector really interest me.

I honed my research skills and data analysis through real-world projects

My summer internship was situated at the University of Laval in Quebec, Canada. I was there for ten weeks and I undertook some challenging and fulfilling research work. The gist of it was to investigate the mechanical behaviour of a particular type of timber-framed wall panel. This fell nicely into what I was already researching, so I was delighted. The University of Laval is very well connected and has several industry partners who want to develop their products further, ideal for someone like me who wants to get the most from the university and its facilities. 
My work there was mainly focussed on evaluating the thermal performance on conceptual light frame wall design. The objective being to expand on work that was previously undertaken at Laval. The previous work was inconsistent though, so it was down to me to come up with a solution and get more accurate results. By the end of my stay I was successful; I got suitable results and they were presented to clients.beX scholar Greg, measuring wood
My next area of work, once that research was approved my professor, was to construct large scale wall types in order with the aim of testing their hydrothermal performance for a client. The constructed walls were to be moved and fixed between two large climate chambers, which in turn can control different variables, such as: temperature, relative humidity, solar radiation, wind, and more. Before this though, I had to carry out some essential literature reviews to justify my approach to construction.
The client insisted that the walls must be the correct dimensions, which presented a challenge. Since one of the initial objectives was to mechanically test the strength and rigidity of the wall types and present these findings, any changes to dimensions in testing may compromise the true performance of the wall types. We came up with a solution though, we constructed a frame for the walls to be placed in which would allow dimensions to be respected.
The research projects I was a part of during my time in Quebec have taught me how to change or adapt in different situations as well as how to think on my feet. The projects also gave me the chance to work alongside specialist technicians and use some complex tools. Carrying out research, as well as building wall samples and presenting findings have all helped me improve my studies back home and I’m looking forward to revisiting my experience when I begin my dissertation.

I have made a strong professional network and many close friends

I would say the transition from being a student to my working environment in Laval was pretty smooth and easy. My work there was heavily research-based which has been hugely beneficial since getting back home. Developing these skills is amazing for my final years at university. From this internship, I can definitely now see my future self in this field of work – something I couldn’t imagine before! I’ve made a strong network of academic professionals and more importantly, many close friends.

Commercial companies and academics hold beX in high regard

Throughout my time as a student I would always include myself in various societies and activities organised by students and the university purely because it would look good on my CV. But I found myself growing out of that attitude and beginning to enjoy being a part of my team, building and creating things. My advice to fellow students is to get involved! Find something you have a passion for – for me it was the Built Environment Exchange – and say yes to the opportunities that it has to offer. It’s not only fundamental for academic growth – due to the high regard academics and commercial companies hold it in – but you might find yourself flying off to Canada for a whole summer!