With its high ceilings, protection from the elements and real-life construction office setting, a newly dedicated Robins & Morton Construction Field Lab is designed to give Auburn University students an unparalleled, real-world training environment for success after graduation.
“The facility that Robins & Morton has given us is unique among construction schools,” said McWhorter School of Building Science Head Richard Burt of the new lab that was dedicated Wednesday, March 4 at 1160 West Samford Avenue. “I’m not aware of any site with the facilities that it has both for teaching and for students to be able to do hands-on activities.”
The lab is the result of a gift of more than $1.3 million from construction firm Robins & Morton. On Wednesday, representatives from Auburn’s College of Architecture, Design and Construction and Robins & Morton celebrated a dedication of the new facility. Unrivaled in size and capability, the construction field lab features a high-bay building with four bays, two of which are fully enclosed and protected from the elements. With 30-foot ceilings, the facility gives students the opportunity to build taller structures that might need to utilize scaffolding. There is storage for both tools and materials, and the onsite classroom holds as many as 40 students. The classroom space was modeled after a real-life construction management setting.
“We’re not teaching them to be masons or carpenters,” said Burt, “but I think it’s really important that our students understand fully what the construction trades do: how difficult it is, the skills needed, the environment you have to work in.”
In addition to hands-on training, the field lab will be used for safety training and for service-learning projects.
“Currently, we’re using this as a base and a prefabrication area for the field lab class, but we also teach safety out of there,” said Burt. “Students will be doing lab work in their estimating classes and mechanical classes, and faculty will be able to use the facility for research.”
Bill Morton, chairman and CEO of Robins & Morton, said the facility will go a long way in helping students put classroom theory into practice.
“We believe getting field experience is critical to achieving a successful career in our industry,” he said. “The field lab allows the students the opportunity to combine experience in the field with a formal classroom education.”
Robins & Morton has a long history of supporting Auburn’s Building Construction program.
“The construction field lab is more than a facility, it is the continuation of a long partnership between the McWhorter School of Building Science and Robins & Morton to continuously advance the education of tomorrow’s construction management leaders,” said Auburn alumnus Mike Thompson, vice president of Operational Support and Planning at Robins & Morton.
Burt said he is grateful for all Robins & Morton has done for the Building Science program.
“They’ve supported us by hosting field trips so the students can get to see what a field superintendent does. This field lab is sort of a natural extension of that, actually allowing students to be able to use their own hands to build and construct and learn.”
Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.