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Transformative Wrexham University plans outlined for students

(L-R) Wynne Construction social value manager Alison Hourihane, and design managers Megan Hughes and Richard Beatson.

Students at Wrexham University have been given an insight into a new multi-million-pound facility on campus by alumni working on the development.

Wynne Construction design managers Richard Beatson and Megan Hughes, both graduates of the university, presented the new £8m Enterprise, Engineering, and Optics Centre (EEOC) to architectural and design technology undergraduates.

As part of the North Wales Growth Deal, the Bodelwyddan-based firm is carrying out the pre-construction services agreement of the 2,080m2 facility and has made use of digital transformation methods to map out the build.

Richard and Megan, who are co-ordinating the design for the scheme, delivered the presentation, which introduced the EEOC, and offered an insight into pursuing a career in the industry.

Richard said: “When I was at university, I remember having an appetite for seeing real-life floorplans and learning how classroom knowledge translates on site, so we were keen to bring plenty of printed blueprints to the lecture.

“We wanted to convey the level of detail which has gone into the project, which starts as simple as explaining the initial drawings, through to the complex technology used to make sure every bit of kit has been incorporated into a 3D digital model.

“In addition, we communicated how the build will achieve a significant reduction in embodied carbon, as we have created a calculation for its overall footprint.”

The EEOC has been designed to aid with the transition toward net zero, with photovoltaic (PV) solar panels fitted on the centre’s roof to provide electricity for the building.

Speaking on the innovative aspects of the scheme, Megan added: “As part of the project, we propose to use a ‘digital twin’ management tool which features a representation of the centre to examine energy efficiency.

“This is a first for the university and will contribute to its Campus 2025 strategy of delivering a high-quality, 21st century academic environment, with a potential for this software to be rolled out to monitor other parts of the Wrexham site.

“During the talk with the students, we demonstrated our modern methods of construction and covered the variety of roles and skills needed for these developments, which require clear communication between architectural technologists and site teams.

“We also delved into the challenges the industry is currently facing, including the increasingly hot topic of artificial intelligence, as we wanted to encourage pupils to embrace the possibilities of these advancements, rather than shying away from them.”

This month, the North Wales Ambition Board gave its approval to the full business case for the centre, funding £11.55m of the total project value through the Growth Deal.

Paul Moran, capital projects manager at Wrexham University, added: “The university is committed to transforming our estate and providing our students and industry partners with the best facilities in the region.

“As part of our £80m campus redevelopment programme, we have already delivered a range of exciting projects, and we are now moving forward with these larger developments.

“The EEOC project is a key milestone in our programme, as it showcases the latest in Building Information Management (BIM) and carbon assessment, and demonstrates our leadership in the field of enterprise, engineering, and optics.

“This project, which is being part funded by North Wales Ambition Board, will not only enhance the academic environment for our students, but also foster innovation and collaboration with our industry partners, and support the transition to a low-carbon economy for our community.

“We were delighted to welcome back our alumni, Richard and Megan, who have shared their valuable experiences and insights with our current students and are grateful to Wynne Construction for delivering such an engaging and informative session.

“We look forward to working with them to bring this project to fruition and to open the EEOC in 2025.”

The EEOC will be based at the Plas Coch campus and is scheduled to open in 2025, with work to commence from February 2024.