This report presents the knowledge gained during my one-year placement, working as a student structural engineer on Clancy Consulting and being involved in a diversity of activities.
One of the most interesting activities was the Continuous Personal Development course that was held every month on the company. CPD is a source of information that helps engineers to be up to date with the new products and technology in the construction industry that can save money for the clients and time for engineers.
Furthermore, I have learned how to put in practice the theory by going on site visits and site surveys. It was easier to design and analyze members when I was aware of the location, the loading acting on the members and the surroundings of the building. The design calculations were based on the British Standards or Eurocodes. However, code preference was based on client requirements.
Every project I worked on had the requirement to complete a risk assessment. This enables me to understand various risks or hazards associated with the project, such as, health of workers and contractors on site, etc.
A placement year is an opportunity for you to experience what it is like to work in a particular job role, for a particular company in a particular sector. An opportunity for you to discover whether you would rather work for a smaller or a large organization. To find out if you would prefer to commute and work in the city or walk to work by choosing a local company. A placement year will enable you to make informed decisions about your future career. All the above shows the importance of a placement and the outcome that every student can achieve from it.
The main purpose of doing a one-year placement was to broaden and deepen my engineering knowledge. I manage to gain that knowledge by getting involved in technical projects being supervised by senior engineers. Working as part of a growing team, like a student engineer, you are rarely involved in technical works. During this year, I have been involved in a couple of projects and learned very fascinating things. For example:
- Designing structural members and calculating loadings
- Reviewing designs and calculation of the senior engineers
- Reports and documentation to support the planning, design, operation, maintenance
- Risk assessments
- Site visits
- Site surveys
- Building client relationships
- Using a variety of engineering software packages, as well as 2D and 3D modeling for new designs and modifications
- Continuous Professional Development presentations.
A placement allows you to get a step ahead on the graduate career ladder. As more and more students look to university to further their career, the importance of work experience has never been greater. Gaining some real world corporate experience of how the theory on your course applies in a practical business environment is invaluable. These experiences will aid your ability to understand, problem solve, work in teams and communicate across several different business areas, with different individuals from different backgrounds. These skills gained on placement will stand you in good stead for your final year studies and when applying for graduate roles.
Activities and projects
A placement is a good opportunity for a student to put in practice the theory that she have learned at university. As part of my training, activities and projects were included. Exciting and frightening in the same time, activities like: site visits, site survey and evening talks could be very intimidating for a student. It gives you the opportunity to talk with contractors, other engineers and architects and broaden your professional relationship in the industry.
The aim of a site visit is to observe the different activities and techniques carried on site. As well as, to explore the various types of building materials and machinery used on site. It is the best way to have an up-close view of the entire building structure as opposed to seeing it in the drawings and see how a real site really looks like.
Site visit: Construction of an internal wall – St Albans
The inspection was purely visual, with no intrusive opening up works and be limited to those parts of the structural fabric readily and easily accessible. All observations are from ground floor level on the condition of the structure of Units 3 & 4 was required, in connection with the proposed partition wall.
According to the geological map the soil composition on North Orbital Commercial Park is Lowestoft formation – diamicton. The Lowestoft Formation forms an extensive sheet of chalky till, together with outwash sands and gravels, silts and clays. The till is characterized by its chalk and flint content.
The existing property is a single storey building having a portal frame, with a lightweight cladding and roofing system. The construction of a single-leaf partition wall made of 215 mm blockwork, to split the two units from what is currently a single open plan unit. Refer to Appendix A.
The recommended remedial works from this report are to adjust the existing rainwater downpipes that are in line with the row of columns, to allow the new blockwork wall to tie back to the columns.
Site visit- Structural integrity of a building: Chelsea No. 127
Kings Road, Chelsea is the middle unit of a small terrace of three similar properties. The property has a ‘London butterfly’ roof, consisting of a V-profile with a central valley gutter running front to back. Original roof covering would be of slate and it was not possible to determine if any re-roofing work has been undertaken over the years. To the rear, this valley gutter collects to a rain water hopper, from where a downpipe discharges onto the flat roof of the single storey rear addition.
Existing walls in the basement are obscured due to cold storage rooms, toilet area paneling etc. but the two walls proposed for removal are most likely load-bearing and supporting steelwork will be required. This installation is likely to require Notices to be issued under The Party Wall etc. Act 1996.5Currently, there are open grills in the original coal-holes to the two pavement roofs, allowing direct entry for rain water. Evidence of usual ground water ingress through vault walls noted, which will require treatment depending on the actual use envisaged for these areas.
Both first and second floors and the timber staircase were noted to dip slightly towards the center of the property, all of which is not unusual for a building of this age and type. Over the years some internal walls have been removed to each level and fairly heavy kitchen equipment installed to first and second floor areas.
With reference to local published geological information (British Geological Survey – Postcode ref. SW3 4PW) the superficial deposits to the area will be the granular Kempton Park Gravel Formation over London Clay. The property appeared to be structurally stable and free of any major defects.
Site visit: Queens Hospital, Romford
Prior to the investigations a desk top study was carried out by review of information which had been made available in the form of drawings and documents. The hospital comprises of 1 large structure with smaller outer buildings located near the site’s car park. It is a 5-storey building plus a large basement within the footprint of the ground floor. Perimeter walls consist of straight and curved walls and as for the upper levels the walls become all curved as the structure from 2nd floor and above is limited only to the 4 central circular towers. An appreciation of the quality of construction can be gained by the inspection and investigations. Whilst this is subjective it can be used in forming an Engineering judgment on the overall construction of the cavity walls in question.
The structure from the limited information given seems to indicate an external brick and block cavity wall system. There is also an indication that there could be a steel frame built in within the cavity walls at certain areas. There is also a suggestion of a RC slab in the drawings, therefore could mean that the structure comprises of both a steel frame and a RC frame with a cavity wall infills. The details specify that wall ties should have been installed as it shows all different manners of installation. Movement joint locations and installation details are shown. The sections display that the external walls are either cladded or bare faced brick construction. There are some areas where the wall is block on both leaves and the other areas are of a brick and block construction. The walkaround survey was done to ascertain the desktop survey we have carried out and to amend the proposed locations for the bore scope and the opening up surveys.63.2 Site surveys The need for a cavity wall tie survey can arise for several reasons: old houses and metal ties in older houses can sometimes rust and fail, wall tie corrosion may be suspected, because of cracking in the walls, bulging and bowing walls is also a sign of damage. To inspect the ties, a bore scope is used. It has a viewing window for looking at the ties in the cavity and a light source to illuminate the target wall tie. Where the cavity is not insulated and the clear view of the wall ties is possible.
In 1995 The Building Research Establishment (BRE), issued guidance in the form of BRE digest 401 “Installing Wall Ties “, which set out how to visually grade existing wall ties and what to recommend (or not), depending on the condition of them. BRE 401 sets out nine classes of wall tie corrosion, ranging from number 1: Bright and shiny – no problem, though to number 9: very rusty and laminating – urgent repair required. Initially, the visual condition of the wall ties is used to decide on what action (if any), is needed. Usually a decision can be made immediately, however our surveyor will then take photographs of the wall ties through his bore scope, for further inspection later and to keep a record of the findings.
Wall tie survey – Queens Hospital, Romford
An initial investigation was undertaken to ascertain whether the defects of the wall ties exist at the hospital in question by carrying out such sample surveys, reviews, site inspections, and tests as follows:
check and demonstrate that the cavity wall ties (between masonry/masonry and external masonry / internal steelwork) to external cavity walls and their installation details at the hospital are such that the areas surveyed are deemed compliant (i.e. 50mm minimum embedment);
confirm any remedial works that are required in order to achieve compliance, and any further surveys, reviews, site inspections, and tests, which are deemed necessary (subject to further instructions).
It was found that the cavity was in a good condition with a hint of cobwebs located at the upper levels of the wall. The ties were in good condition with a few covered in mortar droppings. Investigations determined that there was a mixture of type 1 and type 2 cavity wall ties used in accordance to BS EN 845-1: 2013. Observations made at the various bore scope and opening up locations suggest the provision of cavity wall ties is likely to be satisfactory, in accordance with the requirements of BS 5628-1: 2005 and PD 6697: 2010. Upon conclusion of these inspections and investigations we are of the opinion that the wall tie provision overall is likely to be reasonable, whilst the general quality of construction was found to be fair, with regular mortar deposits visible either as deposits on the wall ties, or overspill from the bed joints.
However, based upon our observations we have no reason at this stage to suspect the existence of a defect and nor, therefore, to question the overall stability of the external walls.
Furthermore, whilst the information available for desk top study does not confirm the design7requirements for construction, on the basis of these observations we have no reason to consider the hospital unsafe for continued occupation.
Wall tie survey – Queens Mary’s Hospital, Roehampton
Intrusive inspections were carried out with the assistance of HPM Contracts to drill pilot holes to facilitate bore scope inspections and the removal of bricks at the external walls as instructed. A small MEWP was also available to assist with higher level access where necessary.
Observations made at the various bore scope and brick removal locations indicate that the provision of cavity wall ties are likely to be satisfactory in those areas, in accordance with the requirements of BS 5628-1:2005 and PD 6697:2010.It was found that the cavity at most of the locations appeared to be in a satisfactory condition with some “snot” on the ties. The cavity wall width was mostly all 50mm in exception 5 different locations, which were 150mm, 130mm and 3 were 65mm.Most of the locations had 50mm phenolic insulation within the cavity in exception to 2 locations, which had none, but were on a column position that is an external column wrapped in a brick face finish.
There were no visible wind posts found, however it was found that the masonry outer leaf was tied to the main structure with the use of Ancon tie SDBs. In conclusion of these inspections and investigations we are of the opinion that the wall tie provisions overall are likely to be satisfactory.
The general quality of construction was found to be fair, with uncommonly found mortar drops visible either as deposits on the wall ties, or overspill from the bed joints. The wall ties that were covered in “snot” did not cause a concern regarding the cold bridging as the phenolic insulation was in a good condition. Similarly, we have no concerns regarding the structural integrity.
Based upon our observations and limited inspections, it appears that we have no reason at this stage to suspect the existence of any defect with regards to cavity ties and nor, therefore, to question the overall stability of the external walls.
Furthermore, the findings on site confirms that the construction of the Hospital had followed what we had found in our desktop study of the structure and on the basis of these observations we have no quantifiable reason to consider the Hospital unsafe for continued occupation, with regards to the provision of wall ties.
Continuing Professional Development
Participating to CDP’s helped me broaden my knowledge about engineering and the types of materials used in the construction industry. Less expensive and more efficient ways to do the maintenance of the structural members and structure itself. It is very important to be up to date with the new products in order to get a cheaper option and a quick solution to your problem.
Attending CPD’s courses facilitated me get a better understanding about construction materials: how are being made, timing, transportation, utilization and design of members.
CPD: Tata steel- steel floor construction
Tata Steel was established in 1907 and the first ingot of steel was made at Jamshedpur in India in 1912. Composite construction arrived in UK in 1980’s and it was an established form of construction for commercial buildings. Example: lift bundled metal deck, safe working platform, edge trims, shear studs, through deck welded, set mesh, metal deck etc. Instead of craning in individual precast units, bundles of profiled metal desk are lifted into place in a single operation and rapidly laid out to form a safe working platform.
Composite action is achieved by through deck welding of shear studs to the beam. Edge trims are added to retain the concrete during the casting operation, the mesh is set in place and then the floor slab is cast.
Composite system is economical and, introduced elegant, spacious clear span solutions. Enabled lighter short span solutions than conventional reinforced concrete slabs. The main differentiator between profiled metal deck and precast concrete units is speed of construction. Bundles of floor deck can be lifted into place in a single lift, whereas each precast unit must be lifted individually. Steel flooring system can be broadly grouped into 3 forms of construction:
Downstand composite where a standard beam section has the sear stud welded to the top of flange to form composite action with slab. Light form of construction, low cost and structurally efficient.
Clear span cellular is formed by taking a standard UB section and then splitting it or by fabricating the section from plate. Ideal for developments of more than 5 storeys.
Shallow floor system has the ASB integral with the floor slab. It is often used where are limitations on floor zone depth for a building.
A more recent option for composite floor construction is the Fibrefloor system. It combines standard comflor metal decking with a combination of polypropylene and steel fibres to eliminate mesh reinforcement. Steel is a sustainable building material that the recycling rates of constructional steel is 88% reuse 11% and loss 1%.
CPD: Tata steel – fatigue design – Eurocode 3
Fatigue and fracture are different but related, limit states. Fatigue may or may not lead to fracture. The presence of fatigue cracks does not necessarily mean that a structure is unsafe.9A fatigue design is only required when a structure is subjected to cyclical loading. Sources of cyclical loading: machine floors, wind-induced vibrations, crowd- induced oscillations, etc.
Fatigue life is the number of fluctuating cycles that a steel detail can withstand and is influenced by: stress range, detail geometry, material characteristics and environment. The codes of practice dealing with fatigue in steel design are:
- BS EN 1993-1-1 Steel structures – General rules
- BS EN 1993-2 Steel bridges
- BS EN 1993-2 Traffic loads on bridges
- BS EN 1993-1-4
When cracks cycle open and closed, the crack surfaces rub against each other, creating a fine steel powder that easily oxidizes when exposed to the environment. This often leads to rust staining, or discoloration, as the oxidized material bleeds from cracks that can be visible.
Repairs of fatigue cracks can be done by the following methods: hammer peening and grinding.
Hammer peening is the easiest and least expensive treatment, which is very effective and commonly used, it works by introducing compressive stresses near the weld toe
Grinding is made in offshore structures with tubular joints, where the welds are very large. It is effective at shaping the weld and enhancing fatigue strengths by reducing the associated stress concentration factor.
Doubler plates technique is used to repair through-thickness cracks. By increasing the cross section to repair fatigue cracks, reduces stress ranges.
CPD: Arcelor Mittal-Sustainable Bridges
The preservation of natural resources in our industrialized societies has become priority in creation of built environment.
Bridges are of vital importance to the transport, infrastructure of societies. Growth in traffic density during recent decades has been tremendous. Therefore, numerous new roads and railway lines were built or are planned to be realized in the near future.
Meanwhile, existing bridges must carry the increased traffic, considering all bridges, short span bridges are the most frequent category. That is why the use of rolled sections can play a significant role. Sustainable bridges using rolled steel sections provide the opportunity to give an answer to the infrastructural demand while being fully consistent with the various aspects of sustainability goals:-economical: reduction of investment costs -ecological: steel structures do not release any harmful substances into environment -socio-cultural: bridge design takes into account aesthetic demands with the social expectations -technical oriented: ability to resist high level utilization-process oriented: offers many advantages though its flexibility, lightness and cost effectiveness.
Steel construction offers many advantages through its flexibility, lightness and cost effectiveness. In composite construction for short and medium span bridges, rolled beams are used as primary bearing elements.
Participating to those activities made me analyze the things like an engineer and pay attention to the details. It also increases my knowledge of the industry, allowing me to make better informed decisions about my future career choices.
The placement has brought me a range of benefits and positive impacts. Learning how to design steel member in my work experience is one of the few things that I have learned, and it will be a great start for my following academic year. It improved skills and knowledge, including ‘softer’ employability skills, and specific technical skills and competencies. As well as, it increased my understanding and awareness of the world of work, accelerated personal maturity, self-awareness and ability to articulate skills and achievements. Interaction with other professionals while on placement it also brings me some benefits in terms of networking. For example, engaging with professionals in my chosen career-field can provide a foundation of contacts on which to build and draw upon in a future career.
After completing the placement, it can lead directly to subsequent employment with the same employer following graduation or a plus for employability with another company, comparing with the other students who did not opt for a placement. A clear beneficial output me from undertaking a placement is the ability to effectively evidence my experiences on my CV, providing documented contextual proof for my skills and abilities, coupled with a reference.
I had the opportunity to be involved in team-based working, which provided a contrast to the typically more individual-centric approach taken to academic study. This kind of experience was beneficial for me, and built on my self-management and problem-solving skills typically gained at university, with the ability to work collaboratively.