IIPLE school visit world’s no.1 design company

L-R: Teacher Michael Phillips, Course Coordinator Luisa Sileni, IIPLE President Mauro Vignoli, Dean of Civil Engineering, WUT Professor Andrzej Garbacz, Doctor Ireneusz Czmoch.

Construction students visit Warsaw polytechnic

By Michael Phillips

One dramatic characteristic that everyone noticed as we started towards Poland’s top technical university was how clean and spotless the streets and roads were. There’s very little graffiti too, and considering the large campus grounds it made it all the more amazing that buildings looked immaculate, without any blemishes.

Our first appointment was to meet with Doctor Czmoch and the Dean of Civil Engineering, WUT Professor Andrzej Garbacz. Our meeting took place in a gorgeous floor to ceiling wood panelled boardroom. Topics included how the university prepares its students for future roles in construction. Our students have already studied and in most cases qualified as architects, civil engineers and surveyors so this was a fantastic opportunity to see how other countries develop in these fields.

Doctor Czmoch spoke at length about how the university goes to great lengths to give students as much independence as possible with lecturers often only acting as guides rather than pushing narrow agendas. In fact, past students have won awards for their brilliance in engineering, aero design and biometrics.

BIM was the focus for our students but other areas included:

  • an exchange of technical ideas
  • deeper knowledge in innovation and materials
  • discussion on saving energy and sustainability

He mentioned one course in particular that they have recently started to offer students.

IIPLE class in the main university building.

IIPLE class in the main university building.

“We developed a 30 hour course on BIM with the sole purpose to get students collaborating across interdisciplinary fields. We noticed that normally architects work with architects, engineers with engineers and so forth but when our students had problems they couldn’t communicate very well with someone not in their field. Therefore we established this experimental course to judge how we could improve this situation.” When asked how successful it had been so far he replied, “We actually did a poll and discovered that over 90% would recommend the course to others and said that they learnt so much about communicating in an interdisciplinary field so, yes, we were quite happy that they believed in it.”

One of the many construction sites working on the next generation of skyscrapers.

After our visit lasting a few hours we toured the city as we made our way towards our next appointment. On the way Doctor Czmoch pointed out many design peculiarities in buildings and streets along the way. Warsaw is an incredible city where there’s a concentrated focus to maintain as many of the old buildings or characteristics of the city by integrating new build designs. Although heavily bombed during WWII they’ve managed to restructure or in some cases completely rebuild areas from old photos and archives.

Our next stop was to visit a world-renowned company in engineering: WSP. Their web site states: ‘We develop creative, comprehensive and sustainable engineering solutions for a future where society can thrive. Equipped with an intimate understanding of local intricacies, world-class talent and proactive leadership, we plan, design, manage and engineer long lasting and impactful solutions to uniquely complex problems.’

WSP visit

WSP visit

Their professionalism and dedication to being the best was obvious as soon as we walked into their offices. Clean, orderly, with very few distractions and a very open welcome to show us why they are among the world’s best. Our President Mauro Vignoli was so impressed he commented, “I want to hear everything they are saying. This place is just incredible. You can see how focussed and efficient they are.”

Various representatives in WSP spoke to us and showed us a presentation of their company. What was most impressive was the fact that only a few years they went from 15,000 employees to 42,000 through a series of acquisitions worldwide.

They have of course been involved in helping change the Warsaw skyline by designing some of the new skyscrapers and those currently breaking ground.

Of course no trip would be complete unless we stopped by some building sites in progress. There’s a frenetic pace of movement in some areas of Warsaw. We noted also that the construction sites are tended to in a fashion so as not to impede or obstruct daily life around the city. Traffic is barely affected and roads are kept free as possible to limit any disruption.

All in all, the trip was a great success for our objectives and we are extremely grateful to those who participated and helped in making the trip worthwhile, especially: IIPLE President Mauro Vignoli, Course Coordinator Luisa Sileni, Dean’s representative for BIM implementation at the Faculty of Civil Engineering Doctor Ireneusz Czmoch and Joanna Wilczynska (WSP).

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