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UL Civil Engineering students get real-time experience from Limerick Twenty Thirty’s Opera Square

University of Limerick students Elaine Greaves, Alannah Clohessey, Niall Murphy and Barry Mulderrig with Peter Power of ARUP Picture: Arthur Ellis
Thu, 09 Dec 2021

Civil engineering students at University of Limerick have received priceless “learning by doing” experience by taking on the role of civil engineering consultants on one of Ireland’s most exciting build projects thanks to a partnership between the University and Limerick Twenty Thirty.

The Integrated Design Project (IDP) is part of the third-year curriculum for students in the course. The IDP precedes their eight-month mentored Cooperative Education Placement in industry and gives the students invaluable practical experience ahead of placement. 

The project, involving 35 students, ran from September culminating in a presentation this week to lecturers, colleagues, representatives from the Project’s Sponsors, Arup and representatives from Limerick Twenty Thirty. 

Awards were presented for the Best Team Design Presentation (Team award), Best Site Appraisal (Team award), Best Geotechnical Design (Individual award) and Best Structural Design (Individual award).

The brief was to complete the civil and structural design of the ‘One Opera Square’ Building on the Project Opera site, a six-storey office building above basement on Michael Street. Demolition and enabling works are currently taking place onsite with construction of the basement and One Opera Square due to commence in 2022.

The students’ tasks required advanced engineering knowledge and skills included Professional Practice Elements such as Structural Analysis, Risk and Health and Safety assessments, land surveying including geotechnical ground profiles, field and laboratory testing of soils and finally development of a mobility management plan for the Opera project. 

Said course leader for the project Declan Phillips: “The UL civil engineering programme utilises an exclusively ‘learning-by-doing’ approach to prepare the next generation of engineers. This partnership with Limerick Twenty Thirty is an excellent example of that.

“Opera Square is one of the most anticipated and exciting projects underway in Ireland and it’s been of huge benefit to be able to get our students to base their IDP on it. We got great support from the team at Limerick Twenty Thirty, the project managers Cogent Associates and the contractors SISK. The experience the students got will be invaluable to them, not least as they get ready for their co-op placement.

“If a civil engineering student was to pick a project they would like to work on, Opera would be right up there because of its scale, complexity and ambition. It’s been a great experience for them,” he added.

Said David Conway, CEO of Limerick Twenty Thirty: “We were delighted to facilitate UL in this project. Opera Square has everything and more that civil engineering students would want to explore. These students are going to be the civil engineers of tomorrow and it’s essential that the sector has the graduate flow to sustain activity, so it’s important for us in that regard, too, to be able to support initiatives like this.

“UL’s civil engineering programme has an excellent reputation and given that it’s one of our local universities, this is something we are delighted to have partnered on.”