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 Surveying Programme Leader, Dean Bieganek
Posted on: 29 January, 2020
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 into 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 the construction technology with the aesthetic and emotional impact of design.
Building surveyors are important contributors to the Built Environment, helping to maintain and preserve our existing building stock. At its heart, building surveying is essentially understanding how buildings work and function, and the circumstances that cause them to fail.
Building surveying, however, is also a multi-faceted discipline, that includes technical and design knowledge, project management skills and an understanding of contractual and legal issues related to property and construction. These skills are extremely transferable across different areas of work within the Built Environment and thus create a broad range of job opportunities.
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 the BSc (Hons) Building Surveying webpage.