@ClassOfYourOwn does The House of Lords!

It’s been a while since my last post and Easter has just passed… where has the time gone? This may be long overdue, but I simply have to post this blog…

The best day of the last few weeks was without doubt Wednesday 20th March at The House of Lords (HoL) at the request of Lord Knight of Weymouth, with Class of Your Own (COYO).

If you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll know that I’ve recently been working with a few pupils from St.Michael and All Angels Academy (SMAAA) to give professional industry advice and help with their DesignEngineerConstruct! (DEC!) course.

The HoL event was an afternoon reception attended by AEC industry professionals, education bodies and most importantly, a selection of pupils (known as ‘Young Professionals’ who are currently immersed in their DEC! course.

Lord Knight of Weymouth introduces the event.

Lord Knight of Weymouth introduces the event.

The opening speech by Lord Knight highlighted that during his time in various Ministerial roles in the DfES and DCSF, money was spent in significant sums often exceeding previous investment and yet results did not appear or improve as expected.  Now that funds are much tighter, what does the future hold?

Put simply, it doesn’t matter how much money you throw at education; if the curriculum and proposed style of teaching doesn’t engage the pupils, it will never be as successful as a minimally funded one that engages young minds. The DEC! course does exactly that; the kids presenting at the HoL were confident, knowledgeable and above all passionate about their work.

Of the three presentations, it was interesting to see how each school had interpreted the same curriculum.  Each presentation was very well prepared and it was evident just how much effort had been put in from the pupils and their teachers.  Also obvious was the breadth of knowledge that had been passed to each and every one of the pupils; most were aware of their environment, understood the basics of sustainability, planning guidelines, what’s involved in the design process and how the architectural and engineering professions were essential to the creation of new buildings.

The pupils from Burnley even exclaimed:

We are best placed to design the building – we use it everyday – we should be listened to, we are the end-users.

To add to the ’embarrassment’ of some of the audience members, each group also showed their wide-ranging understanding of BIM and presented their proposed buildings as ‘live’ Revit models with ease.  This is brave; as any presenter will testify, a live demo always results in ‘moments of uncertainty’ but they handled it professionally with no problems.

I was of course waiting with bated breath for ‘my boys’ the Young Professionals from SMAAA – Seun, Eghosa, Sultan & Yusuf along with their teacher Nicolas Riedel who were last up and the nerves were building!

The Young Professionals from St Michael & All Angels Academy in Camberwell.

The Young Professionals from St Michael & All Angels Academy in Camberwell.

As the only group who presented without a script, the boys soon had the audience engaged, laughing and cheering – even if it did include the odd white lie! ;0) .  Beginning with ‘why we love engineering so much‘, they swiftly moved through an explanation of their existing site using a laser scanned point cloud to demonstrate and highlighted planning issues.  They then individually presented their own buildings from concept design, through Revit modelling and on to sustainable measures they had incorporated.  It was nothing short of amazing.

A summary by Sir John Parker (President of The Royal Academy of Engineering), then acknowledged the future skills gap in engineering and the AEC industry in this country.  With high praise for COYO and their DEC! curriculum he clearly identified it as an exemplar method of exposing pupils and educating them as to the range of professional roles within the industry.  The intention HAS to be making this industry a ‘desirable’ career move.

Alison & Dan of COYO - clearly overwhelmed but asking 'What if?'...

Alison & Dan of COYO – clearly overwhelmed but asking ‘What if?’…

In an emotionally charged final speech, Alison and Dan both managed to hold it together and shared their journey so far and where they see COYO heading.  It’s absolutely amazing to see what they have achieved in a short space of time and just goes to show what can be done if you believe in it enough.

Thanks were doled out readily to sponsors, inspirational teachers, supporters and a group close to me, the #UKBIMcrew.  I’m not sure what it is with the #UKBIMCrew, but we all seem willing to share our knowledge with a much wider group than just our immediate peers.  We think the same.

I’m so glad to be involved with COYO and have to admit that I had a lump in my throat when ‘my boys’ said thanks in their presentation… well done boys, you did us proud.

Finally to finish on a quote I’m sat underneath on this train, serendipity I think you’ll agree:

This is for those who take their own route. The ones whose spirits can’t be dampened, even by the rain. For the ones on a constant journey. For those who try and try again. It’s is for those who live by the saying ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’…

If you want to know more, Alison Watson of COYO will be guest blogging for me next week – keep a look out for it!

In the meantime, here’s a link to another blog by fellow attendees – all of which carry the same message… COYO is right, it works and we should all lobby as much as we can to ensure it spreads.

Andy Evans – TopConn


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