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Abertay student to compete in Scottish engineering final

15 May 2013

An Abertay engineering student will be representing Dundee at the Scottish Regional Final of the Institution of Civil Engineers’ Graduate and Student Paper Competition this Monday (May 20).

Aleksandar S Vasiljevic won the Dundee Area Branch final back in February, based on the paper he submitted entitled “A view of poor workmanship on timber-crib retaining walls”.

He gave a 10 minute presentation on this paper, which was followed by a gruelling 10 minutes of questioning from the judging panel.

Timber-crib retaining walls are being used more and more frequently as a building material these days, because they are better for the environment and enable construction companies to gain their low-carbon credentials.

However, if not constructed with enough care, such walls can become unstable which means they are at risk of collapse.

In his upcoming presentation, Aleksandar will give examples of where this has happened, and address some of the reasons why – suggesting, for example, that it may be because timber can warp and change over time, but also that it may be the result of poor workmanship.

He will be required to speak for 15 minutes in Monday’s final, and will then face a further 15 minutes of questioning from the judging panel.

Speaking ahead of the Scottish Regional Finals, Aleksandar said:

“It was amazing to win the Dundee Area Branch competition and, although I was a little nervous, I really enjoyed having the opportunity to present a paper about my own work.

“I’m really passionate about the subject I’m studying, so it was a huge confidence boost to know that I got that across in my presentation. Hopefully I’ll manage to do the same in the final.

“I’d definitely recommend others enter this competition next year – it’s been a great experience so far, and I’ve learnt so much from it. Writing, presenting and then having to answer questions on your work is daunting, but it’s great to be able to say that I have those skills, and to be able to give a really good example of where I’ve used them.”

Programme Tutor for Civil Engineering Dr Cornelia Doerich-Stavridis said:

“The Graduate and Student Paper Competition is something we encourage all our students to enter, as it’s a great way for them to develop new skills and gain confidence in speaking about their work.

“Written and verbal skills are essential for students preparing for their Professional Review, and being able to say you have skills like this, as well as having practical experience of working in the engineering sector under your belt, can really help your CV stand out from the crowd when applying for jobs.

“We were delighted for Aleksandar when he won the Dundee Area Branch competition – he was up against very stiff competition, but spoke passionately and confidently about his subject, which really went in his favour. I’m sure he’ll give an equally strong performance in the upcoming final, and we wish him the best of luck.”

The Scottish Regional Final will take place in the Darcy Thompson Lecture Theatre at Dundee University on Monday, May 20 at 6.30pm. Refreshments will be provided.

Aleksandar will be up against the winner from the Aberdeen branch of the ICE.

The winner of Monday's final will go on to represent Scotland in the UK Papers Competition Final in London.


For media enquiries please contact Kirsty Cameron T: 01382 308935 M: 07922041198 E:

Notes to Editors:

  • Aleksandar was recently accepted onto the MSc in Geotechnical Engineering at Dundee University.
  • He will be working with Muirfield Contracts – a Dundee-based contractor that works across Scotland – over the summer as a site engineer. This company has helped pioneer the new Sandwich degree accreditation for the Civil Engineering course at Abertay University.
  • Aleksandar is the first ever student to achieve this new 'Sandwich' degree title, which he will receive on top of the normal BSc (Hons) title.
  • How the Sandwich degree programme works:

All Civil Engineering students at Abertay must complete a 12 week work placement as part of the second semester of their third year. This work placement is organised by the university.

The Sandwich degree is attained by students who arrange to carry out further placements, during their summer holidays, over and above the requirements of the normal degree.

Students must organise these placements themselves, and the onus is on them to arrange for a course tutor to come out on site and assess their performance.

Two four-month placements must be completed in order to achieve the Sandwich degree title. It is recommended that these are carried out during the summer holidays of the student's third and fourth year of study.

Including the 12 week work placement during the second semester of their third year, students completing the Sandwich degree course will have carried out almost one year of on-the-job training by the time they graduate.

  • The ICE is the UK’s qualifying body for Civil Engineering, and each region within the UK has a number of local branches.
  • Amongst other committees, each branch has a Graduate and Student committee.
  • The Graduate and Student Papers Competition is open to all graduate and student members of the ICE and is held every year to promote and reward excellence in the communication of civil engineering issues and ideas.
  • The Professional Review takes place after four to five years’ experience of working in industry. All graduate engineers must complete their Professional Review in order to become professionally qualified and attain their Chartership.
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