Auburn Dedicates Robins & Morton Construction Field Lab
The College of Architecture, Design & Construction at Auburn University dedicated the Robins & Morton Construction Field Laboratory on Wednesday, March 4. The field laboratory is located on Auburn’s campus at 1160 West Samford Avenue and is the result of a generous gift of more than $1.3 million from construction firm Robins & Morton.
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, this space gives students the opportunity to build taller structures that may need to utilize scaffolding. There is storage for both tools and materials, and the onsite classroom holds up to 40 students. The classroom space was modeled after a real-life construction management setting. “The facility that Robins & Morton has given us is unique among construction schools,” said McWhorter School of Building Science Head Richard Burt. “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.”
“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,” stated 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.”
With its high ceilings, protection from the elements and real-life construction office setting, the Robins & Morton Construction Field Lab is giving Auburn students the real-world training they need to succeed after graduation. While learning theory in the classroom is important, being able to apply it is vital to their success in the future. Bill Morton, Chairman and CEO of Robins & Morton, agrees. “We believe getting field experience is critical to achieving a successful career in our industry. 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. Auburn grad Mike Thompson, Vice President of Operational Support and Planning at Robins & Morton, stated, “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.” Burt is grateful for the company’s support. “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.”