30 March 2021

NMITE appoints Robert Hairstans Founding Director for CATT

TRADA image

New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering (NMITE) has announced that Professor Robert Hairstans has joined as Founding Director of its Centre for Advanced Timber Technology (CATT).


The CATT, which will showcase the practical uses of timber as a construction material, production methodology and design, is intended to be a beacon of sustainability which supports established local, national and international timber-based construction industries and provides opportunities for NMITE’s future graduates.


Robert will lead the CATT’s development and delivery in order to establish it as the leading national location in timber education and to work with the broader NMITE academic team to create a sustainable educational portfolio. His specialities – which include timber engineering and technology, adding value to the timber supply chain, and off-site modular construction – make him an excellent candidate to address the timber skills shortage with NMITE. Its uniquely practical, challenge-based style of education, which is underscored by its aim to ‘transform engineering higher education in Britain’, looks set to enthuse the timber industry.


Robert, who authored the TRADA publication Off-site and industrialised timber construction: Delivering quality and efficiency 2nd edition and has contributed to the Timber Industry Yearbook on a range of topics over the years, joins the CATT on a two-year secondment from Edinburgh Napier University (ENU), where he is head of the Centre for Offsite Construction + Innovative Structures (COCIS) within the University's Institute for Sustainable Construction.


Commenting on his appointment, Robert said:


‘Modern construction drivers have evolved. There is a need to deliver and indeed enhance the existing built environment – more productively utilising naturally renewable resources, as well as employing factory-based approaches and digital technologies. The built environment professionals that can adapt to these methods of sustainable delivery will be trained in timber engineering and capable of applying regenerative design principles.


‘Establishing NMITE’s Centre for Advance Timber Technology (CATT) has the objective of accelerating this change. The CATT will achieve this by up-skilling the existing, and accelerating a new more diverse workforce capable of fulfilling the needs of the sector instilled with a collaborative mindset enabling cultural change.’


Professor Beverley Gibbs, NMITE’s Chief Academic Officer, said: ‘We are thrilled at Professor Hairstans’ arrival and know he has the expertise, experience and passion to develop and deliver the CATT’s vision.’


Read Robert Hairstans' article Building skills for off-site timber construction post-Covid-19 from the 2020/2021 Industry Yearbook Online