Trades Academy Build a Bridge

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Students’ work will take pride of place along one of New Plymouth’s most picturesque walkways, thanks to the Build a Bridge project that’s underway with Trades Academy students at WITT. 

Eight students from six different Taranaki high schools are involved in the Trades Academy programme a couple of days a week, to replace a footbridge on the Huatoki Walkway near Camden Street.

Students started in the programme in March this year, building a pre-fabricated bridge on campus, which will be craned into position.

WITT is providing the training and student guidance for the programme, with many study pathways available to those who involved in the Build a Bridge project, including engineering, roading, civil construction and energy industries.

New Plymouth District Council (NPDC) worked with Infrastructure Talent Pipeline partners, including WITT and Taranaki Futures, to get the project off the ground in 2020. The project is funded by NPDC.

During the first term, students spent time visiting local sites including a quarry, new sub-division and various bridges, including the one they will be replacing.  It gave them an idea about different worksites and designs of bridges.

WSP architects designed the bridge, with Fulton Hogan overseeing the construction and installation of the project. 

Work started on campus with students constructing the timber platform and handrails, learning to use circular saws and drills during the first process.

The platform and rails will then be attached onto the pre-assembled steel frame at WITT. The bridge will be built in three sections because of the length and transportation required.

Once the sections are built on site, the bridge will be craned into position.

WITT and NZIHT programme manager Jan Kivell said there are many advantages for students being involved in ‘real world projects.’

“It has exposed students to what happens behind the scenes, such as the number of organisations and people collaborating to make this project a success.”

She said being hands-on allows students to practice their skills with small tools, practice teamwork, workplace communication and health and safety.

“Working on a real project also helps the students to determine if this is an industry they would like to seek a career in.

“I have watched the students’ confidence grow throughout the project and I hope they get great satisfaction to see the project go from a drawing on paper to a physical structure which will be used for many years by their community,” she added.

Not only will the students be involved in practical work and decide if it’s a career path for them, they will also be complete Level 2 unit standards to work towards their NCEA Level 2.

Jan said the students’ last day working on the project at WITT is September 30, but the date of installation is yet to be confirmed.


Pictured: Build a Bridge students watch as the steelwork for the bridge is craned onto site at WITT.

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