Academia

University of Leeds.

I joined the University of Leeds in the Department of Civil Engineering in 1980. Two degree schemes, unique at that time in UK, leading to an MEng degree recognised by the Institutions of Civil and Structural Engineers and latterly by the RIBA as leading to their Intermediate level of qualification.

These degrees were MEng Architectural Engineering and MEng Civil Engineering with Architecture. They were of four years of duration and in the case of the Architectural Engineering degree, the third year being undertaken at Penn State University, USA. The courses included History of Architecture and Landscape Design, and in each year there were extensive design projects. The AE students tending towards building projects, the CE with A students tending towards environmental projects. Our students were welcomed as fitting very well into multi – discipline consultancies such as Arups, Tony Hunt and Bureau Happold. Many students quickly revealed themselves, when given the opportunity, of having considerable design talents.

The first year included elementary drawing and presentation techniques and a simple design project including site survey and assessment and a competitive model structural event created by Don Dalton and enjoyed enormously by everyone.

The second Year included building design and structural design projects in first, reinforced concrete and secondly, steel. In turn of increasing complexity but each examining user needs and site investigation.

The final years (either Third or Fourth depending on degree) included a major project taken from Brief, Environmental Impact, Site Assessment, Sketch Design, Final Scheme with either Structural or Services Designs and a final Presentation to staff and student peers.

In addition to lecturing in all years, I coordinated the exchange scheme with the Architectural Engineering Department of Penn State University with Prof Howard Kingsbury a most constructive and caring initiator of the idea. Penn State Students came to Leeds and benefited hugely from working with UK codes and practices, as did our students in Pennsylvania. In addition the studies included Landscape, History of Architecture, Philosophy of Science, Group Working and Presentation techniques.

I was also a Senior Research Fellow in the Institute for Transport Studies and lectured on the post – graduate Transport Planning course. In addition I supervised student’s dissertations at the end of their studies.

A number of students were supervised in their PhD studies, ‘Skills and Products for Self Help’ (Dr Robert Felix), ‘Use of Accident and Emergency Departments’ ( Dr Ghazwa Alwani), ‘Housing in a North African Country’, (Dr Chafia Ferhat) and Research projects with other Faculty, such as Access to Centres for the Disabled, Traffic Circulation in a Calderdale town and Designing with Users.

As well as teaching within these departments I undertook a number of other tasks,including departmental publicity and relationships with US universities. I commissioned and coordinated publicity material for the Department and worked on encouraging American Universities to participate in exchange and study schemes at Leeds.

The Civil Engineering Department had the advantage of advice from an Advisory Group of eminent practitioners from the built Environment world. Here I formed a very beneficial association with Sir Andrew Derbyshire, then a principal with RMJM.

 

One day I had a phone call from an ex Leeds University student who wished to study Architecture. This was Jonathan Silver who had just acquired Salts Mill. I explained that it took over five years and that he would be unlikely to commit the time to that, however we discuss an alternative of his doing a PhD exploring Titus Salt’s establishment of the manufactory and new town and his own enterprise of restoring the Mill and location to prosperity. Once more a wonderful and most rewarding association was made which had a sad, sad end with Jonathan’s untimely death.

Leeds University put on The Chester Cycle of Mystery Plays, the Civil Engineering Department put on The Webstar’s play, ‘The Last Judgement’. I produced the backdrop for the player’s wagon.

Two projects were undertaken towards the end of my time at Leeds. The first was a scoping study commissioned in 1991 by AFRC/SERC called by them ‘Clean Technology . . . Towards the Civilised City’. It was done together with Dr Peter Hopkinson of ITS. This was to propose a way of studying quality of life issues in urban situations in a world of increasing population, pollution, resource shortages and rapid technical change. It was undertaken  with a wide range of senior people from academia, industry and central administration. A concluding session was held with group facilitation provided by Lynn McGregor of Decision Development. The final report suggested mechanisms whereby a much wider range of opinion, including non specialist and public involvement was included in shaping research programs. We had always suggested the term ‘Sustainable Cities’ but this wasn’t approved by SERC as it was not then current in Academia. However it did contribute to the formulation of the ‘Sustainable Cities’ programs of the 1990s.

The second project was MSc(Eng) ‘Design for Sustainability’ to create an equivalent of an ‘MBA in the Environment’ for high flying young management personnel from the worlds of business, implementation, management and finance. The object being to educate generalists who had a good grasp of the technical and ethical aspects of global pollutions and the environmental crises. The educational methods were inter-disciplinary and based on design processes rather than reductive analytical approaches.

University of Southampton.

On retirement from Leeds University I was asked to become a visiting lecturer at the University of Southampton in the Department of Civil Engineering and Transport Studies. The head of Department was Prof Roy Stoner who had been a Senior member of the major constructional firm of Mott – McDonald. He had considerable experience in Civil Engineering Design, Implementation, Business management and Staff management consequently the atmosphere of the department was very different from that of Leeds.

I undertook a program of lectures for undergraduate students of Environmental Engineering on issues of Sustainability and to Masters students of Transport Planning.

To inform students of the need for a synoptic approach when working with the built environment was a seminar which introduced them to aspects of engineering they would not otherwise encounter.

In addition another was to reveal the importance of students’ abilities to work in groups, organise research and present material and opinion. This was done through a project ‘The Citizens Guide to the Sustainable City’. In this the students organised themselves to produce a document to which each had contributed and to mount a display and presentation to an audience against a demanding time schedule.

I very much enjoyed my association with these Departments at Southampton University and the colleagues and students I worked with.