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Case Study: Student Mentoring

Neil Sansum from BDP explains why it’s worth investing time in the next generation of architects.

09 October 2018

Neil Sansum from BDP explains why it’s worth investing time in the next generation of architects.

Three students from UWE Bristol, Joe, Jonie and Nicolas – all international students and all very enthusiastic, were allocated to me to take part in the mentoring programme. Following introduction’s, they all came into the BDP office in Bristol a few weeks later for a chat about how BDP might help them in their professional careers. I asked to see their portfolios to gain some insight into their previous projects and general level of attainment.

Our first meeting at BDP coincided with our regular Friday afternoon presentation which involved a member of the office giving an illustrated talk on either a current project or some other item of interest. The three UWE students clearly enjoyed this, and it provided them with a good insight into studio life. During our first meeting we agreed what we wanted to achieve and do during our time together and that I would take them on a site visit to one of our projects. This is an important start to the process as we wanted to maximise our time together to get the most out of the experience.

The second meeting was the site visit to Falmouth University. This was a great success; the contractor, EBC, were perfectly happy to provide PPE and a guided tour of our new ‘Launchpad’ building which at that time was up to first floor slab. The weather was marvellous (it was the 12th December) and the building at an interesting stage of construction (it will be completed in October).

Following our site visit and to complete the mentoring we went back to Falmouth for the third meeting. I arranged for the three students to have some desk space in our ‘AIR’ (Academy of Innovation and Research), building, which formed the first phase of the current development during my site meeting.

Outcomes and key learnings:

The site visits provided a very positive experience for the students, who also didn’t seem to mind spending more than five hours on the road.

The time in the office gave the students a chance to experience working in a studio.

I really enjoyed student mentoring and have signed up again as think it’s a key part of leaning and development and the mentor and mentee benefit from the experience.

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