Teaching Timber: A Bright Future

Teaching Timber: A Bright Future

ARTICLE · By Tabitha Binding · 04 November 2020

The East Anglia Timber Trade Association (EATTA), International Plywood, Bedford Timber, Allt Environmental Structural Engineers and Rotafix have furthered the knowledge of 45 future professionals by supporting Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in their design, make, construct 2020 programme, enabling a plywood pavilion to be both designed and built by students as the culmination to their first year’s studies.

The EATTAs new chairman Richard Fatkin, continued previous chair Chris James’ legacy, working with Tabitha Binding, TTF and TRADA’s University and Regional Engagement Manager, and EATTA’s members to bring Industry and Academia together – to engage, encourage and educate ARU’s first year students.

Why has EATTA collaborated with Academia?

“These students are our industries future. They will design with and then specify the many timber products that our industry supplies, in their future careers. By working with them at this stage of their learning, we are not only imparting essential knowledge, but also building relationships. By sponsoring the supply of material, EATTA and our members go one step further enabling hands-on learning too” answers Richard Fatkin.

Why does ARU involve Industry?

“Academia is task-and-process-focussed and operates on abstractions – whilst the Industry operates in the real-world and is outcome-focussed. To bridge this divide we must engage as Ruskin did in linking arts and craft, and the contemporary approach of transdisciplinary project-based learning and learning by doing” says Dr Maria Vogiatzaki, Professor of Architecture at ARU “Only then will we develop fully rounded professionals ready for the world of work.”

Why would an engineer work with architecture students?

“As a structural engineer many years out of formal education, but not of course out of daily education, I am reminded of my days at university before I could call myself a structural engineer and before even I really knew what a structural engineer was – a question that still challenges.  In those days the abstract of lectures and study did not add to my understanding beyond the textbook or exam questions. The understanding of making came later. Now, with that experience to benefit me I see the importance in ensuring as we watch others on that path that they are guided but not led. The students can claim complete credit for their achievements having themselves navigated the design and build process. The tutors’ role being to allow the students to make new paths but not get lost in the woods…” responds Toby Maclean of Allt Environmental Structural Engineers.

Teaching Timber: A Bright Future

Timber is not taught as a material and disciplines do not mix at university, but we are changing that, region by region. And so, via collaboration and a willingness for Academia, Industry, Professionals and Associations to come together, to encourage, enthuse and educate – both students and ourselves – a brighter future is being born. Students will graduate, confident and competent, in designing and detailing, with both solid and engineered timber, on its own or as part of a hybrid structure, in both new and re-used buildings, to face the myriad of challenges ahead.

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