WEEK 8 – TAMU CoSci Study Abroad

Monday, February 25:

Kew Gardens w/ Professor Hertz

On Monday we travelled with Professor Hertz to Kew Gardens. It is a royal botanical garden that also researches plants and fungi. We walked around the gardens and enjoyed the beautiful scenery and flowers. There was one indoor room with climate control that felt similar to a summer in Texas! After visiting Kew Gardens, we took a historic walk around the town of Richmond. We finished the day by walking through a park searching for deer and other wildlife.

Tuesday, February 26:

Site Visit to Hackney Gardens w/ Thornsett

On Tuesday we went to our last site visit. We went to a project near Hackney Garden. This project was a residential project by Thornsett. The contractor for this project was JJ Rhatgun. The project consisted of 3 blocks and 1 of them was completely for social housing. This property was originally owned by the church adjacent to the building and was let to Thornsett on a 999 Year lease. Even though we have been visiting many different sites every week, we always learn something new or different with each one. For example, on this project, there was a bomb that destroyed one of the previous buildings on this land and they had to get the site checked for potential unexploded bombs that could have been present. Each unit in the building was at a 60 minute fire protection rating. Also due to the uncertainty of the Brexit situation, the contractor has already stockpiled 90% of the material and equipment coming in from EU on site. A fun fact about this specific land was that there was previously a small lake here and a lot of frogs lived there. However, due to the construction the lake had to be moved and all the frogs relocated to a temporary lake. This environmental issue arose because the lake was a hunting area for all the foxes that would come in the night to eat these frogs.

Wednesday, February 27:

Research Presentations

Six of the study abroad students presented their oral research projects on Wednesday. We walked from project to project and learned about the history of six historic London landmarks, starting with Quintin Caletka presenting the history of Big Ben. We also visited:

– St. James – Zak Buyajian

– Buckingham Palace – Nathan O’Neill

– Westminster Abbey – Morgan Chandler

– Westminster Palace – Isaac De Leon

– Jewel Tower – Vishruth  Bhaskar

Thursday, February 28:

Churchill War Rooms & Research Presentations

On Thursday we met at the Churchill War Rooms, where Winston Churchill led the British effort during World War II. These underground bunkers in Westminster are now a museum. We learned about both the war and the life of Winston Churchill. After this, a few more students presented their research locations, including:

-Thames Embankment – Hans Osth

-Tower of London – Ethan Ellis

-St. Paul’s Cathedral – Melissa Ussery

-College of Arms – Austin Steele

-Temple Church – Adam Thompson

-Somerset House – Beka Graham

– Windsor Castle – Jake Claus

Friday and the Weekend!:

Travel & Studying

For this weekend, some students travelled to go skiing in Romania. Others stayed in London while still others went to see Prague. On Monday, Jason Cunningham and Shannon Caletka will be presenting their research locations. Shannon is presenting the Highgate cemetery, and Jason will show us the Battersea Power Station. We are all studying for our final exams and preparing our final papers for the courses.

Academic Study Abroad Overview:

Two months have passed by since we landed in London and most of us still feel like it was yesterday that we had our orientation. Eight weeks of academic classes have gone by extremely fast and we have gained immense understanding in construction law and the construction practices in London. Visiting all the different construction sites has given us a clear perspective on construction in London. One of the key things that I think we will take back home with us is the attention to safety detail and risk management that most of the construction companies in London follow. The weekly law class that we had with Professor Rodgers was by far one of the most useful and informative classes taken at TAMU. We would discuss every law related thing that we came up on the different construction site visits. This study abroad so far has proven to be so much more informative and educational than any class could be in college. We have learnt more by walking around construction sites and learning through practical exposure than by reading a book for an exam and forgetting it a few weeks later.  Additionally, Professor Hertz taught our class British culture by walking to numerous streets, buildings, and historic landmarks in London.

Next up is Constructionarium! We will spend a week building a mini-Gherkin. It will be a scaled down model of the famous London building that we have been preparing to construct. After that we have our Spring Break, where students are planning to visit a variety of places around Europe.   Cheers!

Week 7

Once again, Howdy from your favourite Aggies in London! 

Monday, February 23rd

The entrance to The Imperial War Museum

Like usual, we started off on Monday with class with Professor Hertz. This week we discussed the wars and some of the battles that the U.K. has been involved with, including WWI and WWII. At the time of WWI, the U.K. had the strongest navy in the world, and it was better than the next top three country’s combined.  New technology such as the machine gun and barbed wire made WWI one of the deadliest wars. 2% of the population in the U.K. was killed and 4% were wounded. After class we took a bus ride to the Imperial War Museum. Professor Hertz walked us around while explaining different memorabilia from the different wars. We saw things such as above ground bunkers (that would only protect you from small debris), the smallest boat that rowed across the English for the Battle of Dunkirk, and different automobiles, subs, and aircraft from the wars. Some of us stayed longer than others and explored the rest of the museum. The Holocaust exhibit went into great detail of the horrendous genocide and lose that the Germans and Europeans endured. Later in the day a few of us went to Texas Joe’s, a barbeque restaurant that is run by a Texas family. Even though they support the wrong Texas school, the food was very good and the atmosphere was reminiscent of home.

Tuesday, February 24th

The view from WO3

On Tuesday we headed back to Wembley for a site visit, but this time it was with McLaren. They showed us both a residential building, which is in the finish stage, and a commercial building. McLaren split up the group into two, one half went to go see WO3, the residential space, and the other half went to go see WO6, the commercial and office space. WO3 is a 15-floor tower, with a bar and relaxation area with a cinema on the tenth floor. Instead of keys or key fobs residents will use key cards to get into their rooms, just like a hotel. Working right next to Wembley comes with hardships such as red lines (areas that McLaren has to work within and has to get permission to go outside the boundary), noise restraints since other residential building have been completed and residents are living in, and conforming their work hours to when Wembley has concerts or events. WO6 is the commercial and office space that McLaren is working on. It is currently the only office site on the Wembley development. WO6 will be 8 stories high when completed, but its final elevation will be the same as WO3 since the ground slope is so severe. The Wembley development will be complete in 2025 and will include commercial, office, and residential spaces. 

After visiting McLaren at Wembley, we went to Hammersmith to visit a Wates Construction site. They are construction a mega-police station out of a old police station with grade 2 (elements that cannot be removed or changed due to historic significance) elements. Some of these elements include a brick arch that had to be dissembled piece by piece and put back the same way since construction vehicles could not fit through it, stable blocks, and the original staircase. The police station will house every police facility except police dogs and helicopters. It will take 140 weeks to construct, which is quite a long time but there are a lot of elements going into this build. There will be space for local police, horse mounted police, stable blocks for the horses (constructed out of old grade 2 stable blocks), custodial cells, high security cells, and more. This is Wate’s 19thor 20thpolice station, so they are professionals at building them at this point. 

Wednesday, February 20th

On Wednesday we had class with Professor Rodgers like usual. We discussed payment and performance bonds and the difference between them. Professor Rodgers wanted to make it very clear that bonds are NOT insurance and the two should not be mistaken for each other. Since we discussed insurance last week, it made it easy to see the differences between bonds and insurance. We then learned about the different documents and people involved with bonds. At the end of class we did law in the news, where we discussed different construction and law issues in the U.K. Later that night everyone came to the girls flat for a lasagna dinner and to work on Constructionarium, which is creeping up on us fast.

Thursday, February 21st

Study Abroad Students at MR Scaffolding site.

Today’s site visit was a little different than the rest. Usually well meet up with one or two contractors and tour around their respected sites, but this day was different. This particular day we met with MR Scaffolding, a well-known scaffolding subcontractor around the London area. Matthew Trayfoot, the health and safety director for MR Scaffolding, took us to several different sites with various contractors to illustrate the different jobs that the company has undertaken and the difficulties of running a scaffolding company. We were given plans to look at, as well as being taught the different techniques of scaffolding that are used in the United Kingdom versus in the Unites States. What was also interesting was that at our last site, we were given a more experienced lecture on health and safety from a supervisor named Martin Forde. He went continually about the importance of safety and how it is the number one priority to get everyone home safe each and every day.

Friday, February 22nd

Jake Claus (’20) shares his research on Windsor Castle to the class

This class field trip was one for the books. Following one of the most beautiful days we could ask for, we were privileged to go to Windsor and tour the Windsor Castle. Before we began our tour, Jake Claus (’20) gave us a small preview of Windsor Castle and all of the research that he was able to collect throughout the semester. He was able to get our minds going and get us excited about starting our adventure. We first entered St. George’s Chapel, most widely known as the church where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got married. Similar to most of the churches and cathedrals that we have been able to see throughout our time in the UK, St. George’s possessed a powerful and uplifting feeling that was covered in history and culture. From the grave of King Henry IV to the beautiful architecture, this was truly one of the most moving pieces of construction that we have visited.

After roaming about the castle grounds, we finally made our way to Winsor Castle itself. The large and beautiful structure was surrounded by a large stone wall, accompanied by continuous towers overlooking the beautifully groomed grounds. With the given audio guides, we were able to learn all about the architecture and pieces of art that filled the ins and outs of the large structure. From the Crimson Drawing Room to the Ball Room, the architects were impressing every tourist that was walking about its space. It was amazing to learn that this place is still a working building today. A few hours after our departure, we learned that the Queen made an appearance to the Windsor Castle. 

The United Kingdom, as well as London itself, has been full of nothing but great history and unforgettable moments. We cannot wait to see what the future weeks entail.

Thanks and Gig ‘em!

Shannon Caletka ‘21 and Zak Buyajian ‘20

Week Six

Again, Howdy from London! Week six has come and gone, and our time here continues to fly by at a rapid pace. 

Monday, February 11:We had our weekly British Life and Culture class with Professor Hertz. This week’s topics covered the history of development of the British economic systems involving in large part the East India Trading company. He took us through the timeline of commerce and trade, as far as the ‘Asian Triangle’ to the American Colonies, trade destinations that eventually led to the founding of the Great British  Commonwealth.  Following our class period, our professor always takes us on a walk around London to a sites of importance that were raised in his lecture. This week, he led us through the Covent Garden area to see the various markets and famous shops.  Afterwards, we continued on to the National Gallery.  The National Gallery is one of the most visited museums in the world. The artwork on display is owned by the government for the benefit of all British people.  On display are works by Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and many others.  The days we spend with Professor Hertz are always so interesting, not only because of his excitement regarding the material he covers, but also because he is showing us amazing glimpses into world history. We all have developed a much greater appreciation for this country and its rich heritage.

National Gallery with Professor Hertz!

Tuesday, February 12:Our day started by meeting Professor Rodgers in a suburb south of London called Brixton. We had a private tour of the town by Ms. Nicola Whyte, who works with the Borough of Lambeth.  Brixton is very different from London as a whole, in that it has a very strong Rastafarian culture. Its residents are primarily from the Caribbean, and Jamaica in particular.

Hans in awe of the beautiful architecture!

From the food markets and jerk chicken restaurants, to the flags and murals around town, it is clear to see their cultural pride in the city. From a construction standpoint, they have a small developmental scheme that was very interesting. They built an entire structure out of old shipping containers.  This is complete with coffee shops, food vendors, and even small business office spaces.

The group having fun outside of Pop Brixton!

The project, Pop Brixton, was essentially built as a temporary structure to encourage small business growth. It was only intended to be up for two years but has already made it past its fourth year. After our Brixton tour and a quick stop for lunch, we made our way to our construction site for the week, Embassy Gardens.

Zak excited for lunch time at Pop Brixton!

Ballymore Construction, Ltd. is building a massive residential project located adjacent to the new US embassy in Nine Elms along the Thames.  

Jake trying not to fall over on the bus!

The project is called The Embassy Gardens. The project as a whole will include up to 1,750 new homes along with office and flexible workspaces. This is spread over eight building plots rising up to 23 stories in height. In the 15-acre development there will be a number of different areas for residential, commercial, and retail space, including the world-famous sky pool.

Beka and Melissa taking a picture on a Ballymore construction site!

The sky pool is the first of its kind in the world spanning between two separate buildings 15 stories high. It was quite the sight to see the scaffolding all set up constructing this seemingly impossible structure.

Group exploring the Embassy Gardens project!

Wednesday, February 13:Today was our weekly classroom time with Professor Rodgers. Class took place as normal, discussing different aspects of construction law, focusing this week on Chapter 23 in our book covering dispute resolution. This included all the common uses in our legal system back home including mediation, arbitration, dispute resolution boards, and finally litigation. We even got a touch of Professor Rodgers favorite, adjudication, which is a form of dispute resolution only found in British construction disputes. After some time in lecture we had a guest speaker from Carey Engineering, Mr. Michael O’Shea, PE. Earlier in the semester we toured the former U.S. Embassy that is being renovated into a hotel by Carey Engineering. Mr. O’Shea is the project manager. The same representatives that showed us the construction site came back and gave us a lecture on risk management. He first defined risk and went over the majority of the risks he sees on a day to day basis.  We discussed how to eliminate or at the least substitute the risk. Mr. O’Shea then took us through the hierarchy of risk management and the phases of project risk management: contract risk, design risks, commercial risk, and operational risks. It was much more interesting to hear the different techniques used by a professional on a current project as opposed to reading it out of a textbook.

Group at Trowers & Hamlin LLP

Thursday Feb. 14:The group started off Thursday morning by visiting Trowers & Hamlin LLP(T&H), an international law firm that specializes in construction litigation. During our time at Trower & Hamlin LLP  we received an extremely informative presentation about adjudication given by T&H Partner Theresa Mohammed and T&H Solicitor Zoeyah Shaheen. The presentation thoroughly covered the adjudication process, a statutory form of dispute resolution. Adjudicationis a procedure for resolving disputes without resorting to the lengthy and expensive court procedures. Adjudication is a process that was introduced in the UK by the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act of 1996(Construction Act 1996). This act mandates the right to utilize this form of alternative dispute resolution in construction contracts. The main goal of the adjudication process is “keep the money flowing” by having disputing parties present their positions to a third party decision maker who resolves the dispute within 28 days. This process is a statutory right, meaning the parties cannot contract out. Construction disputes are generally complex and expensive to litigate, the adjudication process is designed to cut through all that complexity and offers fast and practical solution. 

Adam having a blast walking!

Following our visit at Trowers and Hamlins, the group headed down to the Royal Courts of Justice. We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to sit in on case being tried. During the proceeding the judge gave the two opposing parties an opportunity to come to an agreement amongst themselves. The two parties then exited the courtroom and during that time our group was able to speak with the courtroom clerk and gather more information regarding the background of the case. The clerk was welcoming and willing to answer the questions we had surrounding the proceeding and case. Being able to sit in on a case and watch how proceedings are carried out was a neat opportunity.   

Gig ‘em in Norwich Castle!

Friday Feb. 15:  On Friday the group met up bright and early at Liverpool Station to hop on a train and head to Norwich for the day. Norwich is an old city in the north east of England close to the North Sea. The weather in Norwich couldn’t be any better. The sun was shining and the temperature was in the high fifties, which was a pleasant change from what we had been experiencing.

Group at Cote Brasserie for lunch

The first thing we did in Norwich was grab some food as it had been a long train ride and we were starving. We ended up at Cote Brasserie, a French cuisine restaurant Professor Rodgers wanted us to experience. This was definitely my highlight of the day; the food was delicious. After we finished up at the restaurant we headed to Norwich Castle. The castle was founded in the medieval times by William the Conqueror following the Norman conquest of England. We then explored the castle at our own leisure and wandered off to explore more of the town before we headed back to London. 

Texas A&M Study Abroad Week 5

Howdy from London, this has been another exciting week here in the UK filled with many exciting visits and discussions. 

Monday Feb. 4:Today our British Life and Culture class began with a brief recap of our trips to Oxford last Friday and to Scotland by a group of us. We then continued our British history lessons by beginning to talk about the history of religion in the UK from the mid 1500’s to late 1600’s. We discussed several religious movements including the protestant reformation and the journeys of groups like the Catholics and Quakers to North America to seek religious freedom. We were all amazed at the amount of English and American history behind the religions and their transformations through this time period. We then visited the Victoria and Albert Museum.  This museum was founded by Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, in the mid-1800’s.  His purpose was to bring things from all over the world to London for “common people” to experience. It is full of multiple exhibits on art and architecture. We mainly focused on the British side of the art and architecture, as there are multiple exhibits from many different countries. There was so much to see and do that we were only able to see a small percentage of what is there during our limited class time. 

Tuesday Feb. 5: On Tuesday we had a later start than usual because we would be working into the evening.  We got a wealth of information from two important places. Our first visit was to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Here we got a brief overview of the history of the group and a few things that they are working on. One of these things is called the International Construction Measurement Standards (ICMS). These standards are being used to normalize the industry and make pricing projects easier from country to country. We also learned about the International Fire Standards to help prevent disasters such as the Grenfell Tower fire, which occurred in 2017.  It was a residential block tower where at least 70 people lost their lives. Investigations have opined that it was deadly due to construction defects during remodeling, poor regulatory oversight and miscommunication by fire officials. Lastly, we got a brief talk bout construction cost consulting. This is meant to help companies become very efficient and improve profits by multi-disciplinary cost management during construction. 

Study Abroad students with RICS members
Study Abroad students following a meeting at the Society of Construction Law

That evening we participated in a meeting of the Society of Construction Law for a presentation about delays on projects caused concurrently by owners and contractors. Overall a wealth of information was provided to us in both places and we all learned a great deal about the way the industry is moving.

Wednesday Feb. 6: Today was our weekly class with Professor Rodgers to discuss construction law. We used the first hour or so going over our previously submitted vocab assignment and a writing exercise aimed at constructing complete and concise sentences that answer the “5 W’s and H.” This served as an excellent tool to show how we can write complete sentences with a small number of words. Around 2:30 or so two people from Constructionarium came by to talk to us about our project in early March. They talked to us about team formation and how the facility is structured. We then did a team building activity where we had a sheet of paper and scissors to figure out how to step through the paper. We took a short break and came back to discuss the actual project management side of the project we will be building and what we can expect while working on our project in northeast England only a few miles in from the North Sea.

Thursday Feb. 7: On Thursday, we traveled out to Greenwich for a site visit at Kidbrooke Village, a development site of the Berkeley Group. Lee Shorter, the general managerof the building site and our host for the day, described the site as the largest planned development in the United Kingdom and one of the largest such developments in the world.  Professor Rodgers suggested we think about how The Woodlands was developed near us in Texas.  The final site will include over 50 buildings encompassing 2,500 living spaces with a variety of styles from town homes to luxury penthouses in the 32-storycentral tower. The vision that the Berkeley Group have for this site is an almost completely self-sufficient community. The site is constructed on land granted to the Berkeley Group from the local government in exchange for infrastructure projects and social housing within the village. In fact, 40% of the finished leasable apartments will be reserved for social housing in a “social housing blind” placement program.  This program randomizes the placements of the members in the social housing program throughout the village so as to not alienate a portion of the community. Construction is sub-contracted to various construction firms and is funded through the pre-sale of the soon-to-be-completed apartments. The site houses many restaurants, grocery store, railroad station, a gym, several communal parks, an internally running bus service to reduce the need for cars, and a community-based policing and police patrol force. Construction is scheduled to be completed in 2034, a full 20-years after the project start date. 

Students listen to history and progress of Kidbrooke Development site

Following our visit to Kidbrooke Village, we traveled to the city of Greenwich, home to “Greenwich Mean Time” and the Royal Observatory of Greenwich.  This is the location of the Prime Meridian, where time begins. We visited the museum located at the Royal Observatory housing the first clocks able to accurately keep track of time while at sea; grabbed a group photo straddling the Prime Meridian with half of us in the eastern hemisphere and half of in the western.  After dismissal from class we experienced Greenwich’s various other attractions such as the Royal Maritime Museum, the retired naval vessel the Cutty Sark and then ferried back to London up the Thames River.

Group photo from Greenwich observatory with a beautiful city background

Friday Feb. 8: Friday’s tasks included a visit to the Sir John Soane Museum. The Museum is the home and passion project of Sir John Soane, a prominent Georgian-era (late 1700’s/early 1800’s) architect. The house is a combination of three rebuilt homes full of convoluted hallways and strange rooms reminiscent of an M.C. Escher painting. The house is comprised of three general levels designed to mimic the three states of existence; Heaven, Hell, and Earth. The basement levels, mimicking Hell, are cramped and dark and house various objects related to death like a pillar in the courtyard marking the grave of his beloved dog, a bust of the Greek god Hates, and a genuine sarcophagus of the Pharaoh Seti from 1200 BC. As the levels of the house are ascended, the rooms and hallways expand and contain much happier subject matter like two out of the three remaining original Hogarth painting series. Following the museum, we were released for the weekend to experience Europe on our own.

Plaque outside Soane museum giving a brief overview of its history

This has been a very exciting week here in London and we look forward to next week’s adventures.

Nathan O’Neill ’20 Austin Steele ’20

Week 4


This week continued with another exciting day in class with Professor Hertz as he walked us through late Medieval History. He taught us about Mozart growing up in London, the industrial aspects of the British government, and the cultural elements involved in the political system. He stressed that the queen has no power and is only there to “pardon turkeys”. After his informing lecture, we took to the streets to learn more about British Life and Culture.

Remaining Wall of London

Walking around London, Professor Hertz led us to Postman’s Park. This green space in the heart of London has The Watts Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice by George Frederick, a pavilion with tiles dedicated to ordinary people who heroically gave their lives to save others but were never recognized. From Postman’s Park we proceeded through an area of the city where the medieval guildhalls had been located. On the way, we passed a section of the original London Wall built by the Romans in 200AD. There are not many parts of it remaining which made the bit that we saw that much more stunning. We came to the primary Guildhall which was the center of trade for the city of London and still houses the official measurement of a foot and yard. The foot is embedded in the building of Guildhall and was established from the exact size of the reigning king’s (King Edward) foot. The Guildhall was also significant because it used to be the site of a roman amphitheater that seated 20,000. You can see portions of it in the basement of Guildhall Art Gallery. We wrapped up our extremely chilly walkabout with Professor Hertz in Paul A Young Chocolate, an award winning chocolatier.

Hot chocolate from Paul A Young


Tuesday kicked off with a site visit to the former American Embassy in London. Our host, Casey Engineering, is currently doing the demolition of the building so that it can be turned into a hotel. They are keeping the exterior intact because of the architectural significance of it. In the 1950’s, the State Department had a design competition and architect Eero Saarinen was the winner. He is known for many other iconic building throughout the world including the Arch of St. Louis. After walking through this site with the project manager and community liaison officer, we headed to the offices of CBRE, a commercial real estate service and investment firm. There we were informed about their role as construction manager we were going to tour on Thursday. This presentation fit in with our construction science classes with Professor Rodgers as we had just covered construction management as a part of our study on alternative contracting methods. They explained not only the various kinds of contracts that they primarily deal with, but the severe impact and fluctuations that Brexit has had on the industry through an increase in public concerns.

Outside the old US Embassy
CBRE presentation
On the patio at CBRE


Back in the classroom with Professor Rodgers, we discussed what we learned in the past week about risk management at lawyer offices and site visits. He emphasized the importance of contract administration for evaluating for evaluating all risks involved in a construction project and the work involved in mitigating them. As the class progressed and we continued to dive deeper into risk management and construction law, we gained a deeper understanding of the significance of understanding contracts in our future. When the class came to a close, we were blessed with a delivery of Mrs Rodger’s homemade chocolate chip cookies.


Our first site visit of the day was with Sir Richard McAlpine construction company, a 150 year old company operating only in the UK. Their site is across from the Queen’s gardens where they are building a Peninsula hotel. They walked us through their project and we got to see another example of top down construction, something we are not familiar with in the States. Later in the day, Mace guided us through One Crown Place, the project that had been introduced to us by CBRE on Tuesday. Mace continued to impress upon us the importance of safety in the British industry as they had nearly double the required safety features throughout the entire project. Innovation was a large part of their work as well as they showed and explained how custom metal platforms with openings were poured into the slabs on each floor to facilitate placement of infrastructure. These helped to fast-track the installation of ductwork from floor to floor while also providing an additional safety advantage of scaffolding not being required for installation.

Sir Richard McAlpine construction site
Mace presentation
Mace construction site


Friday was an adventurous day for the group because we got to visit Oxford while it was snowing. We met at Paddington Station where there is a statue of Paddington Bear located. It is found at Platform 1 where he would wait for Mr and Mrs Brown in the A Bear Called Paddington books. After arriving in Oxford, we walked through the snow as our tour guide, Heidi, led us through the historic town. She showed us many locations of filming for the Harry Potter movies, the street and lamppost that inspired The Lion The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, and a tavern that many famous people have visited, including Bill Clinton. After the quick tour, the group was left to split up and do as we please around the town until we were ready to head back.

Melissa and Shannon at the Harry Potter play

This Weekend

Melissa and Shannon saw the two day Harry Potter play on Thursday and Friday nights and loved it. A group of students are taking off to Edinburgh, Scotland to explore, hike, and soak in the sites. Other members of the group are staying in London to discover different parts of the city, experience the museums, and get ahead on homework (yes, we actually do schoolwork). Every day keeps getting better!

Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, Scotland

Thanks and gig ’em!

Beka Graham ’21 & Ethan Ellis ’20

Week 3

Howdy from London Ags!


We continued our lecture of British Life and Culture with Professor Hertz. He talked about how the British culture is like an… amoeba? Yes, an amoeba or a virus, because of the many different people to come to London from all around the world. Therefore, London has a way of absorbing different cultures, then transforming them into their own. We also learned about the many inventions London was responsible for inventing, i.e. the flushing toilet, the community bus (omnibus), and the origins of the term “red tape”. The term earned its clever name from UK Lawyers and how they use red ribbons to tie up and keep their legal documents organized. It’s important to note that another term commonly used to refer to ribbons is tape. So, when your legal matters are taking long to resolve, it’s because it’s all tied up in “red tape”!

After our class lecture, we took to the chilly and windy streets of London to continue our learning. The sites we were about to see included; Queens Larder Pub, Charles Dickens’s Contributions to the First Pediatric hospital for children with his Royalties from his creation of Peter Pan, then just across the square we have Mary Ward Centre (the first children’s daycare that allowed woman to join the workforce and pursue careers), Christ Church Greyfriars Garden – the only unimproved bomb crater that was created by the Nazi bombings in 1940 -1941 targeted to destroy British Culture, then we headed over to Paternoster Square to see the very first Protestant Cathedral- Saint Paul’s the original burnt down when scaffolding caught fire,  Cutlers Hall when one learns the skills of Knife use, Lastly,  “Old Bailey” the New Gate Prison, and The Elms where William Wallace was hung, drawn, and quartered.


We visited two sites with Sisks. Both sites used a slip form system to construct the building cores, and after the elevator and stair shafts were completed, they would begin contructing the floor slabs and tie them into the cores. The first one was a 22 story housing building that had been topped out and they had begun finishing out the interiors. Sisk was under a Construction Management contract with the owner. We learned how the fire protection in the building worked. Up to the 12th story they have a dry riser pipe (has no water until a pump is hooked to it) that the fire department can hook their trucks to supply water for firefighters. Above the 12th story, they must use a wet riser system. In this system the pipe in the building is precharged with water and connected to a massive pump in the basement, instead of using their own truck to pump water to the hose connections. The building is also sitting just a few meters from a train track, and they have to use several extra precautions to prevent any type of debris reaching the tracks and closing them until the debris is removed. They have used wider scaffolding and used double netting to prevent such a mishap, that if it were to happen would cost the offending contractor £800,000 per minute.

Slip Form Concrete

The second site was the E05 Quebec Project – Wembley with 1200 units, £30 million structural value, 30 – 50 managers for this project, 4 yr job Design/build, and £1.2 Billion total on  was still in the process of building the cores and the main foundation of 3 structures on the same site. We were able to see the slip form system at work. This is a self-climbing form that allows the workers to tie the rebar, place the concrete, and finish the surface. This system allows them to finish about 6.5 feet of the core each day.


We continued our class with Professor Rodgers. We discussed unforeseen site conditions & risk management. We learned that due to the Great Fire of London, only people that were licensed by the city could have a fire. Most neighborhoods only had one or two licensed members and every one would take their dinner to those locations to have it warmed up. These were referred to as a “public house” which over time has been shortened to “pub”. We also learned the meaning of the song “Electric Ave” by Eddy Grant (the song is based on a street in Brixton) a possibly interpretation of the song would be a retelling of the Brixton Riots. 


We visited two law firms, White & Case and Charles, Russell & Speechly. White & Case was originally a banking firm based in New York City, but they have expanded to a global practice that specializes in contracts, awards, and procurement. They also handle contentious issues (not in court) for construction dispute. We learned the pro and cons to the different types of construction contracts including the classic style of DBB and Design Build as well as newer methods like Management Contracting and EPC contracting. There is no right answer to what the one best contract is. You need to analyze what the owner wants and decide what is best for you and the owner.

Charles, Russell & Speechly is an international construction law firm that handles disputes all over the globe. We heard from David Savage about how technology is changing the industry and causing disruptions in the way projects are procured and constructed. We talked about how a 57-level building was constructed in 19 days using off site prefabrication and extensively planned scheduling before construction ever began. Major hurdles with technology in the construction industry includes legal battles for intellectual property, developing and using “block chain” technology, and getting the industry to actually accept new and efficient ideas. Following our meeting, Mr. Savage hosted our group at a social hour at the historic Old Bank of London.


We traveled to Portsmouth, UK to visit the historic shipyards.  The countryside scenery on the trip out was beautiful after we left London. It was nice to get out and see some of the other types of terrain that England has to offer. First we saw the historic Seaside sea wall, and then went down to the Channel and just enjoyed the water and fresh air, while we all took the opportunity to skip some rocks. Lunch was a “Feed’s Burger and Fries” and they did not disappoint; the burgers were fresh, big, and tasty. We then went to the naval exhibits and museums at the shipyard. During our boat tour of the shipyard, we were able to see a plethora of old and new Royal Navy ships. Ranging from the historic “Victory” of Admiral, Nelson, some destroyers, to a stealth ship, and their latest Royal Navy aircraft carrier that is still under the final stages of completion. At the end of the class time a few students went back to London, but most stayed in Portsmouth to explore more of the shipyard the next day.


Several of us grabbed an Air-B-N-B and stayed in Portsmouth on Friday evening. We visited the Boathouse 4 where they re-construct and restore wooden ships and boats using only the tools from the era when the boat was originally built. We were able to enjoy walking through the HMS Victory and HMS Warrior and were able to see the conditions in which sailors of those eras had to live. There is a whole museum built around the salvaged remains of Henry the VIII’s flagship, “Mary Rose”. This ship sank in 1545 and the recovery started in the early 1980’s. The remaining portion of the ship is the center piece of the museum. Lastly, we were able to take a walk through the HMS Alliance, a submarine that was built in 1947. It was one of 16 “A” Class Subs designed during the 2nd World War and intended for use in the Far East, she was commissioned for 28 years. Then we boarded the train and made our way back to London.

Gig ‘Em Aggies! Whoooop!

Isaac DeLeon ’20

Jason Cunningham ’19

Mary Rose
HMS Alliance


Week 2

Howdy from London!

This marks the end of our second week in London. This week was filled to the brim with exciting new ventures throughout the city. From construction site visits to British Life & Culture, we had a busy and educational week. Overall the weather was quite chilly, however it only rained on us once which was very nice. We are keeping our fingers crossed in hope that it continues to not rain. By now we have started to figure out how to prepare to dress for the frigid gusts of wind and figuring our way around town. As Professor Rodgers likes to say, “we are getting our London on”.

AES Classroom with Professor Hertz
Group on the streets of London with Professor Hertz

MONDAY (14 Jan 2019)  – Monday was our first encounter with Professor Alan Hertz. He is an American that has lived in London for decades, he knows just about everything there is to know about the city and its cultures. Throughout the semester he will be enlightening us on British Life and culture. We began our day in the classroom and got a thorough explanation of the history of London and how far it has come to being one of the most developed cities in the world. After lecture we took to the streets as a class, roaming for about two hours with Professor Hertz as he pointed out and explained the infrastructure throughout the city. Professor Hertz knows a story behind every building in London and is eager to share it with his students. We finished our first day with Professor Hertz at the London Building Center.

Lloyds of London walking tour
Scale Model of the Lloyds building

TUESDAY (15 Jan 2019) – Our day started bright and early at Goodman Derrick LLP, a law firm that handles many construction law cases. Graced with the presence of Richard Bailey, a partner at Goodman Derrick, who works specifically in the ins and outs of construction law. We were able to sit down with him for two hours and hear about his experience within the business. He deciphered some of the variances between English Law and US law. He helped enhance our knowledge on how the majority of the cases he deals with are handled, along with the typical outcome of these cases. After our meeting with Mr. Bailey we took the tube (subway) over to the Lloyds building. An absolutely incredible structure that houses the largest insurance market in the world. Containing 84 separate underwriting insurance companies, over 300 brokers, and the staff of Lloyds. Upon arrival we were greeted by a guide who sat us down for an hour long presentation on the business. It was an absolutely captivating display of Lloyd’s 300 year history within the building. After gaining a thorough knowledge of the businesses that operate within the building and the exchanges that take place, then we took a walking tour of the building. It was magnificent from an architectural standpoint. This wrapped up our business day of the week.

WEDNESDAY (16 Jan 2019) – Our favorite day of the week! We get to spend our afternoons in the classroom with Professor Rodgers. This week was filled with construction law in the news, risk management, and extensive classroom discussions exploring various topics in law.

Group with Balfour Beatty guides
Safety brief before site visits with Balfour Beatty

THURSDAY (17 Jan 2019) – This was the most interesting part of this week, PPE! Nothing will make a construction student more excited than getting to walk through an active project. We had the privilege to meet with the construction contractor, Balfour Beatty. We were greeted with presentations on their current projects at 60 Curzon Street and Buckingham Gate. Both projects are super luxury flat (apartment) buildings, each project selling their spaces for upwards of £40 million! Each site is using the top down method of construction, which in summary is where one builds a couple stories up before excavating the basement levels of the building. Very intriguing, we were able to see the excavators digging while we were there three stories below ground and the structure atop was extending four or five stories. We were educated on something that is rather uncommon called “right of light”, which means that any new construction must take into account the amount of natural light that will be taken from the surrounding buildings. Another oddity of building in the city of London is that there are underground train tunnels running throughout the whole city and vibrations from the train tunnels must be taken into account for the pier foundations to ensure a proper foundation for the new buildings.

Following a safety brief of the projects we laced up our steel toed boots and did walkthroughs of both project sites. Technology at the site entrance requires fingerprint recognition (Insite software).  Our hosts had to scan their fingerprints in order to get the group through the security checkpoint of the site. We were also able to hear many interesting steps that the company is taking to keep up with the innovations in construction technology. One that we found particularly interesting was their implication of laser scanning technology to pinpoint the post construction surveying, making sure every column is in place correctly and every spec of the plans has been met. Thanks to our gracious hosts and guides we were able to develop a deeper knowledge of the applications of their designs and software, asking questions and seeing the actual excavation of the buildings’ footprints.

The Mithreaum

FRIDAY (18 Jan 2019) – This was another day back on the streets, we started our morning off at the Museum of London. Spending our time traveling back in time to 2000 BC as we walked through the extensive collection of artifacts that establish the foundation of the city of London today. We worked our way to the modern day history before we headed out to our next spot. A quick walk across town led us to the Mithraeum, a Roman temple buried 23 feet underground from the current street level. This was discovered with the WWII bombings, demolishing the existing structure and revealing this ancient temple. We spent our time there learning about the uses of the building and its recovery.

The boys in Bath

SATURDAY & SUNDAY (19 & 20 Jan 2019) – Our weekend was on us to decide, some of our group traveled to Bath, a Roman city centered around bathhouses, about an hour and a half train ride from where we live in London. The rest of us hung around London, touring and visiting quirky sights. Catching up on some sleep and working on homework to get ahead for the upcoming week.

We have been enjoying every day and it is crazy to think that two weeks have gone by this fast. As we look forward to the weeks to come, we’re remembering our family and friends back in Texas. Loving and missing you all every day, but we are blessed to have this opportunity. A cheesy line to end “together forever, never apart, maybe by distance, but never by heart.”

Thanks and Gig ‘Em

Morgan Chandler & Jake Claus

Week 1

Howdy from London!

Our group is continually awestruck by the simple fact that we are experiencing the incredible sights that we have only seen in movies and pictures! Our preparation for this study abroad experience has preceded our arrival in London by several months so finally being here is extremely surreal. The weather has been beautiful all week (for London).  Our experiences in the first week alone tell the tale of a well-travelled, eager to learn group of Aggies.

Most of us arrived on Saturday and Sunday trapped in the clutches of some rough jet lag. With a six hour time difference between Texas and London, it took about two days for our bodies and minds to get adjusted to the bright, early mornings of Europe and the quick arrival of dark hours in mid-afternoon. Having navigated through London during the weekend, Monday came with another test. We were tasked with figuring out our path through London in order to arrive at the location of our classes for the semester, Anglo Educational Services, located in Russell Square. Now at the end of the week, the winding tube (subway) route already seems secondhand.

The Tower Bridge with the H.M.S. Belfast permanently anchored in front.

DAY ONE – We received an orientation on London, staying safe, a general overview of what Londoners can and can’t do compared to citizens in the United States, and a look ahead at what we could expect from the actual study portion of our journey abroad. Afterward, we had a delicious lunch at a grilled chicken restaurant near Russell Square called Nando’s and then rode the tube to Marble Arch, our rendezvous point for Tuesday morning. Officially, Day 1 was in the books!

The London Eye, a double deck bus on the London Bridge, the Palace of Westminster, and the Elizabeth Tower (ensconced in scaffolding while workers reorient the tower to stand straight up).

DAY TWO – Tuesday morning brought us back to Marble Arch to begin our bus tour of London. The bus was equipped with an audio tour guide for interesting information on each building. The best attribute of this kind of tour was the exterior second level of the bus. Although it was pretty chilly outside, the elevated viewpoint that we observed from was excellent. Unfortunately, the sights did go by quickly but we were able to return to most of the locations on Thursday for a more in depth experience. Additionally, our tour pass enabled us to get a ferry tour on the Thames! The river viewpoint was marvelous. Fortunately, we were graced with blue skies and crisp air for our travels.

Marble Arch
The view from the bus near one of our stops (Victoria Station).

DAY THREE – Wednesday was spent at Anglo for our first day of Construction Law lectures. We covered topics like vocabulary in the UK (chippy = carpenter, skip = dumpster, lorrie = truck, dump truck), etiquette on office and site visits, and construction contracts.

The Bust of Sam Houston located near where Representatives from the Republic of Texas stayed (St. James Palace) while visiting England on their mission of gaining recognition for Texas as a nation.

DAY FOUR – On Thursday, we met to walk around most of London to visit each of our research sites. Each member of the group has a certain building that we are researching in order to give a presentation and paper on later in the semester. Iconic structures like the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey, College of Arms, Thames Embankment, and St. Paul’s Cathedral are just some of the areas we will be learning more about. After walking about 10 miles, we called it a day! We definitely earned a good meal and a satisfying pint at one of the local pubs that night.

On the Thames with the Tower Bridge in the background.

DAY FIVE – Friday started relatively early as well with a tour of one of London’s majestic structures, Westminster Abbey. Although we couldn’t photograph the interior, the chilly stone, intricate carvings, soaring vaulted ceilings, and elaborate decorations promote an awe inspiring experience. Over 3000 people are buried in the Abbey including a tomb representing the deaths of all of the unknown soldiers from World War l. We spent several hours inside and around the Abbey; soaking up the significance of the almost 1000 year old structure.

Westminster Abbey

This weekend, we are spending time experiencing more of the sights of London as well as getting a good bit of homework and research done. We’ve been here a week but time has certainly flown by. Although we are fish out of water, we have adapted very well to London! Like my Swedish relatives like to say: “Borta bra men hemma bast.” or “Away is good but home is best”.

GIG’EM & God Bless Texas.

Hans Osth ‘20

Location: The British Museum