Monday, March 19, 2012

Q&A with Mark Austin

The first Q&A spot on the blog. These (and I hope there will be more) are designed to show a more personal side of the Department of Real Estate and Construction.

Mark Austin is a Senior Lecturer in Construction Management and is the Programme Leader for the MSc Project Management in the Built Environment. Mark also plays in a band called Creaky Knee.


1. When you were at school what did you want to be when you grew up?
Initially I wanted to be an astrophysicist, but there aren't that many jobs for astrophysicists, then I read an autobiography of a civil engineer who travelled the world building tunnels and dams.  I was always good with lego so I thought I'd give civil engineering a go. 

2. What did you study at university or college?
I'm the type of person who wants to know everything about everything.  Firstly I studied civil engineering, then for fun whilst working full time, I did a higher diploma in Applied Geology, then a Masters degree in Sport, then I did a PhD (sociology), then I did a course on reading art history.... 

3. How did you find your way into construction management?
Before I moved into construction management I was a senior lecturer in Cultural Studies, whilst keeping my hand in teaching environmental science on a foundation course in construction.  I was then asked to move full time into the construction department which I accepted.

4. What interests you most about the subject?
Two things equally, the science behind developing low carbon technologies, and the integration of built environment with society. 

5. What is your favourite building and why?
Again two choices for this.  The first is the new Severn Bridge.  As well as being a feat of engineering, it looks very majestic especially with the sun setting behind it, it also takes me back into Wales where I grew up. The second is my local pub (Eight Bells in Eaton).  Buildings become important only when we can ascribe meaning to them.  Pubs form an important part of British culture and we're losing them at an incredible rate.  Each time a pub closes and is re-developed into housing, part of our community and heritage dies. 

6. What is going to be the next big thing in construction?
Offsite construction.  It's only a matter of time before you personally design, specify and order your house at Tesco or Sainsburys.  It will be manufactured in China, then flat packed and shipped to site ready for you to move in.  A new bespoke house, from conception to completion in less than 6 weeks. 

7. Outside of work, how do you relax?
Music, I play guitar, bohdran and sing.  Mostly in my local pub where I run a music session every week, but during the summer I also perform at various small charity festivals around Oxfordshire.  


8. What is your favourite word? 
Sanguine. (Click for a definition).

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