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Learning curve

Spotlight - Concrete

The newly launched Concrete Centre is tackling its role as an educator and promoter of concrete technologies with messianic zeal, discovers Margo Cole.

One of the highlights of last month's Civils 2004 event was a series of seminars on the final day hosted by the Concrete Centre. The three technical briefings covered diverse subjects - cementitious remediation, block paving and slipform construction of the Portsmouth Spinnaker Tower - giving an indication of the variety of different activities undertaken by the country's concrete industry.

The Concrete Centre was set up earlier this year as a central development organisation for the UK's concrete and cement sector. It is aimed at all the players in the industry from clients and government to designers, contractors, housebuilders, specialist subcontractors and suppliers.

A major focus for the Centre is the set of principles identified in both Sir John Egan's Rethinking Construction and its successor Accelerating Change: reducing costs, improving design and construction efficiency, assisting innovation and integrating the supply chain.

Already the Concrete Centre has launched a programme of concrete education and training initiatives and events, including a range of short courses to be held throughout the UK. Subjects covered include the use of cementitious materials for remediation of brownfield land, designing architectural facades in precast concrete, concrete quality and good practice, and the structural design of reinforced concrete structural frames to Eurocode 2.

There will also be oneoff specialist lectures and events - like the technical briefings at Civils .

An early priority for the Centre was to adopt and update CALcrete, the computer aided learning package that covers major aspects of concrete materials, design and construction.

CALcrete was initially developed by the Reinforced Concrete Council, and has now been updated under a DTI-backed Partnership in Innovation (PII) project to provide new modules that include designing to the latest version of EC2, health and safety and environmental issues. Existing modules include precast, hybrid and prestressed concrete, concrete design to both EC2 and BS8110, concrete bridges and pavements and good site practice.

The Centre claims the amount of information available on CALcrete equals 20 days of CPD training without the equivalent cost of time spent away from the office.

'For busy designers and engineers it answers most of what they ever wanted to know about concrete but didn't have the time to ask, 'says Allan Haines, head of education and training at the Concrete Centre.

Introductory CALcrete modules can be downloaded free of charge from The Concrete Centre's website, www. concretecentre. com and the full suite of modules is available from the Concrete Bookshop, (01276) 608778, priced £50.00.

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