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Meet our Masters students: Robert Halkett – MSc Architectural Technology & Building Performance

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Robert studied MSc Architectural Technology & Building Performance and now works as a Senior Architectural Technician at Aitken Turnbull Architects. 

Robert also tours as a member of popular UK punk band, The Exploited. 

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Robert Halkett. I studied a Masters in Architectural Technology & Building Performance at Edinburgh Napier University, and I'm now a Senior Architectural Technician with Aitken Turnbull Architects here in Edinburgh.

Why did you decide to do a Masters?

For me, it was more about progressing my career. I realised at the time that maybe I wasn't as focused as I needed to be on it, so I wanted to develop some more skills. I thought that a very good avenue to becoming a Senior Architectural Technician was to study a Masters. Edinburgh Napier offered a sustainable construction course, which involved a lot of timber and off-site construction, which I was very interested in. I was also keen to get the chance to work with colleagues and lecturers who were interested in conducting research and improving the construction industry in Scotland.

What were the highlights of studying your Masters? 

Some of my highlights were being able to conduct research into a lot of cross-laminated timber, but just generally being able to feel really involved in the faculty. There's a lot of lecturers who would conduct research with us in tandem, which involved a lot of field studies and surveying. I always felt that it was very productive for me. Edinburgh Napier offered a great blend between practical skills and theoretical teaching, so it was really hands on and focused. It's a university that's quite well known for being technological and embracing a lot of modern methods.

What was it like moving to Edinburgh to study?

Edinburgh has been a fantastic city to study and live in. It's a safe, nice, beautiful city, and it's an incredible place to study architecture. There is a terrific nightlife and we also have, believe it or not, nice summers occasionally. I think in Edinburgh there’s a very vibrant student population here, I personally know a lot of people who moved to Edinburgh just to study and like myself decided to stay on and live here permanently.

How did you finance your Masters?

I think the flexibility at Edinburgh Napier was key to me continuing to be able to work and afford to study at the same time. For me, I think one of the key elements was how flexible the faculty was in particular and how my lecturers understood that that there were other requirements I had so I could pay my bills.

I was able to work full time and still continued to tour with my band (The Exploited). I think if it comes down to it and you're afraid to commit to a full-time postgraduate programme, I don’t think it's as daunting as a lot of people think. Having gone through the full-time programme that I did, it just required good time management and a bit of, you know, common sense.

What opportunities has your Masters opened up for you?

Without having attained my Masters, I don't think I'd be in this role. I don't think the positions I've filled in the last four or five years would have been open to me. I think that studying a Masters has been key to the offers and even the interviews that I've got. I'm still very much finding my feet in this new role, but at the same time I don't think, with the skill set that I now have, I don't think I'd have attained it without having studied a Masters.

How did your Masters help you to prepare for the role you do now?

So one of the one of the really cool things I get to get to do with my job is design buildings and think about how people interact with their environment. I consider the sustainability of the constructions as well to pre-empt any problems. I like to think about the people who will be using the buildings, interacting with the infrastructure and to try and improve their quality of life.

My role at the moment is very much a part of a team and the preparation for that was excellent at Edinburgh Napier. I found that the group assignments prepared me in a major way to work with different disciplines, with different personalities and it allowed me to become, I think, less impulsive. I am focused on singular things, so it gave me a bit more of a general idea of what other people's roles are within the construction industry and to give almost certainly a more heightened appreciation of their responsibilities and their roles that perhaps I hadn't considered before.

What advice would you give someone who was considering a Masters?

I would advise anybody who's considering studying a Masters to put together a list of pros and cons. In my case, there weren't very many cons at all. It just required a little bit of time management and balancing the different priorities in my life. In the end, I thought the positive outcome far outweighed the effort that went into it for me.

 

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