Jack travelled east to the innovative Chinese region of Hong Kong
Taking his first steps into the world of sustainable construction, Jack found new passions and built his network of professionals
I’m currently a 4th year Civil Engineering student
My name is Jack Crombie and I’m currently a 4th year BEng Civil Engineering student at Edinburgh Napier. This year, I travelled to Hong Kong to work as an intern in the estates office at the University of Hong Kong for a ten week period.
The beX programme seemed like the perfect stepping stone into the world of sustainable construction
My 1st encounter with the beX programme came from the internship open day where I spent a lot of time speaking with both the beX and Saltire program teams. During one of my 3rd year modules (looking at sustainable construction), we worked closely with one of the beX brand ambassadors Lee Charnley. I found that I instantly had a particular interest in this module and with Lee’s past experience, a future with the beX programme seemed like the perfect stepping-stone into the world of sustainable construction.
After reaching out to Robert Hairstans about the programme, the clear path into it was through the Saltire Foundation. I took the slightly less conventional route into the programme as I was offered an internship in Hong Kong before I had the chance to apply directly to beX. Robert was kind enough to include me in beX as it gave me a chance to take advantage of the benefits offered by both platforms and share my experience with as many groups as possible.
I now feel far more confident going into my 4th year
Over a ten-week period this summer, I worked on three main projects. First, was a high-rise modular construction project for student residences, one of the first of its kind in Hong Kong. I was involved in the research and contractor procurement stage and got invited to several conferences around different universities.
Second, was the implementation of building information modelling (BIM) on a new multi-story building extension, another new technology for the region. BIM is sort of a shared model of the project which contains lots of relevant data about its size, cost and sustainability. For this, I would attend weekly update meetings with the various consultants and contractors to iron out the details and make sure there were no clashes in the model. I also got the chance to work with a number of researchers and companies from the UK which was really interesting.
My third main project was the site formation and excavation of a new build. I witnessed the processes and procedures that go into the first steps of a construction. I collaborated with the site engineer to do things like inspect pipe pile walls and prepare the terrain.
Along with these projects, the other intern and I were given the chance to shadow the Executive Vice President of the university for two weeks! He is responsible for the estates office and other non-academic activities they run. To see first-hand the things he was working on gave us a great insight into the operations of what is effectively a company.
I regularly spent time researching the project activities before I could step in and contribute and I found this hugely beneficial as almost everything I would work on was directly related to my course back home. Thanks to my summer internship, I’m now so much more confident going into my final year of studies.
I’ve had more amazing experiences than I can count
During my ten weeks in Hong Kong, I’ve had more amazing experiences than I can count, but there are two that really stand out for me.
The first being my invitation to attend the Council District Planning Committee (CDPC) meeting. The bi-annual meeting not only hosts some of the most prestigious civil engineers and academics from around Hong Kong, it’s also the governing board for new projects and funding for the university. I benefitted massively from interacting with top professionals in my field and seeing the decision making process take place at the very highest level.
Another event that that stands out for me was getting to go for lunch with British and European Executives and CEOs within the BIM sector. It was great to chat with them about the future of the industry as well as my own future. What made the lunch so special was when one of the CEOs got in touch with me through LinkedIn and asked me to try his new software package and connect with him when I return to the UK.
I now have a clear career path that I would like to take
Before my internship, I had struggled to visualise where I wanted to go with my studies and what sector of the industry I wanted to go into. After experiencing such variety of projects and listening to advice from professionals throughout, I now have a clear career path that I would like to take. For me, the first step on this journey most definitely comes from working with the beX programme. I am particularly interested in both sustainable construction and the advancements of BIM. BeX offers me the possibility to integrate these interests directly into my studies. I hope to focus my 4th year honours project on the BIM programme and hope to continue this into further studies through a masters course.
The process itself was one of the best learning experiences I have had during my studies
The best advice I could give to any prospective beX scholar would be to really put the time and effort into their Saltire applications. Even if unsuccessful, the process itself was one of the best learning experiences I have had during my studies.
Getting the opportunity to have multiple real-world interviews and refining both my CV and cover letter were invaluable experiences that are near impossible to have until the day you apply for that first “real” job. If you really want to give yourself the best shot at getting an internship, the careers advice team will be your golden ticket. The help I received from Maureen Ronaldson (who has been through years of applications) really put my application down the right path and gave me the best chance at showing what I had to offer.