Nathan Wray – BSc (Hons) in Construction Project Management and Applied Technology

Name: Nathan Wray

From: Donegal

School: Abbey Vocational School, Donegal Town

Growing up, I have always had a keen interest in construction, inspired by my dad. He runs his own joinery business, and since I was young, I always loved helping him in the shed working on all sorts of projects. Over the many summers I have spent in the workshop with him, I’ve got to work on sites, in houses, and got to know lots of local tradesmen and firms. In school, my favourite and best subject was construction, and I knew that was the career I wanted to follow.

I researched studying construction in different colleges around the country, and decided I would study in ATU Sligo after attending the open day and seeing the amazing facilities. I am now finished my second year of the course and I am over the moon with how it is going.

I love the degree itself. I find myself getting more and more interested in the modules and subjects associated with Construction Project Management. The small class size is great, as I know my lecturers more personally. Everything we need to know is explained to us clearly, and our lecturers help each student as we progress through the course. There are no silly questions – we are all here to learn and the staff at the college are brilliant with helping us.

We spend a lot of time in the workshop. My favourite module is Applied Construction Technology. This is our workshop module, where we draw, design and construct our own projects, from roofs and stairs to model houses. As time goes on, the projects get more complex, and hence more interesting. Days in the workshop are great, as it is real hands-on experience, rather than looking at text or pictures.

Since I started studying in first year, our different modules all link together as we progress through different topics or areas. For example, as we studied roofs in our theory class, we then started drawing different roof types in our CAD class, before constructing model roofs in the workshop. This allows for easy understanding of the different topics, as we can see them in all areas.

I also really enjoy drawing or Revit. I loved technical graphics in school, and it is great to follow it up in college relating to construction. We completed technical drawings in first year, followed by studying computer aided design (CAD). In second year, we studied building information modelling (BIM), also known as Revit. As a student who never used this software before, our lecturer Kieran Gallagher was excellent at explaining how to use the software – from basic commands right up to detailed file properties. BIM is a great skill to have in this industry, especially as we progress into the future of construction.

I have also secured a position with a local Mechanical/Electrical Contractor, Jim McCabe (Ferm Engineering) for the summer months before returning to university in September. Working on site with qualified electricians, plumbers or working alongside labourers, I learn so much about the industry. It all ties in with university modules too. For example MEP Construction Technology is a second year module which relates to the work at Ferm Engineering. I would definitely recommend anyone studying construction to look for work on site during the summer. There are loads of jobs out there and it really enhances your learning.

Once I finish my degree at ATU Sligo, I plan to first take some time to travel around the world. Luckily, with my qualification, there will be construction work all over the globe for me. I want to work on projects abroad, to see how different countries work on construction projects. Long term, I would love to be a Construction Project Manager – it is a vitally important role in the industry and there is work everywhere. The salaries are great too – which is a bonus! I have no doubt that my degree from ATU Sligo will help me to achieve all this and more.

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