Keep updated on Built Environment industry insights and thoughts from UCEM Principal: Ashley Wheaton.
My life in the built environment: Guest blog by UCEM BSc (Hons) Building Control programme leader, Dean Bieganek
Posted on: 18 January, 2021
Studies and early career
I’m a chartered architectural technologist (MCIAT), with 30 years of combined experience in the built environment. I have two related qualifications from Canada – a Poly-technical Diploma in Architectural Technology from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) and a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies – Architecture, from the University of Manitoba.
Following my degree, I initially worked in architectural practice, starting as a junior technologist, eventually working in roles as a project designer and team leader. I worked with projects from design concept through the entire development and construction process, specialising in education and healthcare design and refurbishment.
Move into academia
After 16 years of working in industry, I made a bold move to shift career direction and enter the world of academia. I taught for two years initially at NAIT in Edmonton, Canada, before relocating to the UK in 2007, where I have held senior lecturing roles at Northumbria University and the University of the West of England (UWE) before joining UCEM in May 2019.
Why a career in the built environment?
From a young age, I was interested in buildings: how they look, how they create a reaction in people, and how they work. The best thing about working in the built environment is seeing a physical result that was from your own imagination. There is nothing like seeing something you have designed or worked on for the first time. Seeing ideas become physical form, knowing that the form originated as an idea in your head, is a very empowering feeling. There are very few other careers that offer something similar.
Why the UK?
From an academic perspective, I was initially recruited for my background in architectural technology and understanding of highly insulated building envelopes and airtightness in technical design.
From a personal perspective, I have a passion for historical buildings and spaces. Living in the UK offers an opportunity to feed that passion in a way that wasn’t really possible when living in western Canada. Every city and village across the UK seems to offer different opportunities to view, visit, or interact with some amazing architecture and places, from various eras, each with their own unique history. From churches to rail stations and guildhalls to medieval pubs, weekends out are amazing learning experiences for me.
My primary subject areas are building design and construction technology, with an emphasis on building envelope design. I have always seen buildings as functional, operational art forms, that serve as devices for life and living. I am fascinated by the relationship of construction technology with the aesthetic and emotional impact of design.
Building control and UCEM’s programme
Building control surveyors have a responsibility to maintain standards in the built environment; specifically, regulations that keep people safe from harm – for example, fire and falling objects – and allow everyone to access buildings and spaces regardless of ability. As such, oversight of other professionals in the construction industry is part of the job, which means detailed knowledge of current building legislation is required, along with the ability to communicate these needs to many different parties – planners, surveyors, local authorities, conservation groups.
A UCEM degree will equip potential building control surveyors with the specific skills needed to build a successful career in this field, in an accessible, flexible and cost-effective manner.
Dean has 30 years’ experience of working in the built environment. He is a chartered architectural technologist and a teaching fellow of the Higher Education Academy. To find out more about his programme, visit theBSc (Hons) Building Control webpage.