Underline or mark the main ideas of Text 12A and retell it in English.

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Underline or mark the main ideas of Text 12A and retell it in English.

19. Skim Text 12B "Drywall" and try to understand what it is about and what information is already known to you.

• TEXT 12B


Drywall is the term used for a common method of constructing interior walls and ceilings using panels made of gypsum plaster pressed between two thick sheets of paper, then kiln dried. Many such panels are made with fiberglass instead of paper to prevent mold growth, which is common with paper that has been exposed to water due to plumbing leaks or floods. Drywall construction is used globally for the finish construction of interior walls and ceilings. Drywall construction became prevalent as a speedier alternative to using plaster-based interior finish techniques, which involved forcefully spreading a substrate of coarse plaster, known as the base made up of the scratch coat and brown coat, onto the wall lath-work before finally applying the smoother finish coat, each layer added in succession and all by hand. Drywall, by contrast to plaster, requires hand finishing only at the fasteners and joints. The drywall process requires less labour and drying time, lending its name to the panels used in the assembly.

As opposed to a week-long plaster application, an entire house can be drywalled in one or two days by two experienced drywallers, and drywall is easy enough to use that it can be installed by many amateur home carpenters. In large-scale commercial construction, the work of installing and finishing drywall is often split between the drywall mechanics, or hangers who install the wallboard and the


270 I Английский язык для студентов строительных специальностей

tapers and mudmen, or float crew who finish the joints and cover the nailheads with drywall compound.

Drywall is cut to size using a large

T-square by scoring the paper on the front

side (usually white) with a utility knife

breaking the sheet along the cut, scoring

Example of drywall the paper backing, and finally breaking

hung vertically with the sheet in the opposite direction. Small

joint compound features such as holes for outlets and light

switches are usually cut using a keyhole

saw or a small high-speed bit in a rotary tool. Drywall is then

fixed to the wall structure with nails, glue or drywall screws. Drywall

fasteners are gaining popularity in both residential and commercial

construction. Drywall fasteners are used for supporting interior

drywall corners and replacing the non-structural, wood or metal

blocking that traditionally was used to install drywall. Their function

serves to save on material and labour expenses, to increase energy

efficiency, and to make plumbing installation simpler.

After the sheets are secured to the wall studs or ceiling joists,

the seams between drywall sheets are concealed using joint tape,

and several layers of the compound sometimes called mud. This

compound is also applied to any screw holes or defects.

Alternatively, for a better finish the entire wall may be given a

skim coat, a thin layer of finishing compound, to minimise the

visual differences between the paper and mudded areas after painting.

Another similar skim coating is always done in a process called

veneer plastering, although it is done slightly thicker. Veneering

uses a slightly different specialised setting compound (finish plaster)

that contains gypsum and lime putty. This application uses blueboard

which has special treated paper to accelerate the setting of the gypsum

plaster component. This setting has less shrinkage than the air-dry

compounds used in drywall, so it only requires one coat. Blueboard

has square edges rather than the tapered-edge drywall boards. The

tapered drywall boards are used to countersink the tape in taped


jointing whereas the tape in veneer plastering is buried beneath a level surface.
20. Give a brief overview of the structure and contents of Text 12B. Relate each heading to the corresponding paragraph.
a) The drywall installation. b) Veneer plastering. c) The trade workers installing drywall. d) Drywall finishing. e) The areas in which drywall is used.
21. Complete the sentences choosing the best variant according to Text 12B.
1)Gypsum plaster panels are made with a) paper. b) fiberglass. c) clay.
2) The drywall process requires » a) much labour. b) plaster finishing. c) manual finishing.
3) A house can be drywalled by a) carpenters. b) hangers. c) tapers.
4) Drywall is cut to size using a) a high-speed bit. b) a keyhole saw. c) a utility knife.

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5) Finish plaster contains

a) clay.

b) lime.

c) gypsum and lime putty.

22. Read Text 12C "Plasterwork" and find the answers to these questions. Discuss them with your groupmates.

a) What does plasterwork refer to?

b) What is the process of creating plasterwork called?

c) Why is plasterwork regarded as one of the most ancient of building techniques?

d) What were a plasterer's tools in Egypt?

e) Where was plaster of a fine white lime stucco used?

f) What are the changes in modern plasterers' tools?

g) What are specific features of drywall and plaster?

h) What are the differences between veneer plastering and the drywall method?



Plasterwork refers to construction or ornamentation done with plaster, such as a layer of plaster on an interior wall or plaster decorative moldings on ceilings or walls. This is also sometimes called pargeting. The process of creating plasterwork called plastering has been used in building construction for centuries.

Plasterwork is one of the most ancient of building techniques. Evidence shows that the dwellings of primitive man were erected in a simple fashion with sticks and plastered with mud. The pyramids in Egypt contain plasterwork executed at least four thousand years ago, probably much earlier, and yet hard and durable at the present time. From recent discoveries it has been ascertained that the tools of the plasterer of that time were practically identical in design, shape and purpose with those used today. For their finest work the


A plasterer covering a wall, using a hawk (in his left hand) and float (in his right hand)

Egyptians used a plaster made from calcined gypsum just like plaster of Paris of the present time, and their methods of plastering on reeds resemble in every way our lath, plaster, float and set work. Hair was introduced to strengthen the material.

Very early in the history of Greek architecture plaster of a fine white lime stucco was used, such has been found at Mycenae. The art had reached perfection in Greece more

than five centuries before Christ, and plaster was frequently used to cover temples externally and internally, in some cases even where the building was of marble. It formed a splendid ground for decorative painting.

Tools and materials include trowels, floats, hammers, screeds, scratching tools, utility knives, laths, lath nails, lime, sand, hair, plaster of Paris, a variety of cements, and various ingredients to form colour washes. While most tools have remained unchanged over the centuries, developments in modern materials have led to some changes. Trowels constructed from steel are available in a polycarbonate material that allows the application of certain new acrylic-based materials without staining the finish. Floats traditionally made of timber are often finished with a layer of sponge or expanded polystyrene.

There are two main methods used in construction of the interior walls of modern homes, drywall and plaster. In drywall a specialized form of sheet rock known as greenboard (yclept because on the outer paper coating is greenish) is screwed onto the wall-frames (studs) of the home to form the interior walls. At the place where the two edges of wallboards meet there is a seam. These seams are covered with mesh tape and then the seams and the screw heads are concealed with the drywall compound to make the wall seem as one uniform

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piece. Later this is painted or wallpapered over to hide the work. This pro-cess is called taping and those who use drywall are known as tapers.

Veneer plastering differs from the drywall method in a number of ways. The two most notable differences are that a thin plaster coat covers the entire wall and not just the seams, and secondly the drywall compound is a thick paste where plaster method uses a great deal of water and is applied very wet. Another difference is that walls intended to be plastered are hanged with blueboard (named as such for the industry standard of the outer paper being blue-grey in colour). This type of sheet rock is designed to absorb some of the moisture of the plaster and allows it to cling better before it sets. Plastering is also a one-shot one-coat application; taping usually requires sanding and then adding an additional coat since the compound shrinks as it dries. From a supply side the cost of plaster and drywall are approximately the same, but the labour cost of plastering is usually much greater.



23. Listen to the Text "Interior Finishes of Residential Buildings".

a) Answer the questions that follow.

1. What do interior finishes define?

2. What is the most widely used wall finish?

3. How is wet gypsum plaster cast?

4. What areas is gypsum board used in?

5. What are the finishes of doors?

6. Where are plastic laminates used?

7. What finishes are used for floors?


b) Check your answers with your groupmates and Tapescript 12A of the Text. Look up the words you do not know in the dictionary.

c) Retell the Text about different types of interior finishes.

d) Tell your groupmates about some other types of interior finishes based on the information to be collected.

24. Listen to the Text "Plaster Slabs".

a) Which of these statements are true and which are false?

1.Now plaster slabs are used in the areas in which work should

be finished quickly.

2. Plaster slabs are finished with a coat for ceilings.

3. Plaster slabs are nailed to fireproof floors.

4. Slabs are grooved for partitions.

5. Iron rods are installed in slabs to reduce the work strength.

6. A keyed surface of slabs requires finishing.

7. A finished surface may be painted before making the joints.

8. Partitions can also be formed with metal joints.


b) Check your answers with your groupmates and Tapescript 12B of the Text. Look up the words you do not know in the dictionary.

c) Retell the Text about plaster slabs.





Five years ago this journal reported that the civil engineering profession was relatively invisible to young people that universities were struggling to fill places and that many practitioners were dissatisfied. Since then there has been a welcome improvement. The same authors now find that civil engineering is featured regularly on television, applications to universities are up and practising civil engineers seem happier. This coincides with civil engineers enjoying a relatively high workload and being offered improved salaries and more flexible, family friendly working patterns. Unchanged, however, is the very low proportion of women entering the profession.

In May 2003 the authors published a paper in "Civil Engineering" describing the "invisibility" of the civil engineering profession, its relatively poor image in schools and how this might be improved. This paper reviews the changes that have taken place during the last five years. In 2003 a number of factors were adversely affecting civil engineering's image. These are summarised briefly below.

—Applications to study civil engineering at university had fallen by around 50% between 1995 and 2001, resulting in the closure of some courses.

—In 2000, 61% of accepted home applicants to engineering and technology degree courses held A/AS-levels and 15% of a Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) national

diploma or general national vocational qualification (GNVQ). Usually A-level entrants to civil engineering must have mathematics but, in 2001, a 29% failure rate in the "new" AS-level maths (introduced as part of the 2000 curriculum reforms) significantly reduced the number of candidates for the full A-level. Compared to its BTEC national diploma predecessor, the advanced general national vocational qualification (AGNVQ) contained insufficient mathematics.

— Many young people associated engineering with car mechanics
and dirty, manual, low-status work. Civil engineering and
construction were also perceived by many as a dirty, manual job
that could potentially be "boring".

—Surveys indicated that around 70% of sixth-form students claimed to "know nothing" about civil engineering and construction, and 62% would not consider it as a career.

—The image of a male-dominated construction industry was unattractive to many girls and some boys.

—The starting salary of graduate civil engineers was relatively low, which discouraged people from joining the profession.

— 82% of practising civil engineers thought that they were
undervalued by their employer and 64% had considered leaving the
industry in the last year.

The authors made a number of suggestions for improving the image of civil engineering. These included increasing the starting salaries of graduates, engaging in a public relations campaign involv­ing positive news releases and television programmes, and a sustained commitment to positively promoting the profession in schools through the use of exciting hands-on activities and work experience. When considering the changes of the last five years, it is useful to consider how they fit into a longer time frame. The business writer, Charles Handy, claimed that many things are cyclical and can be represented by the sigmoid curve — like a sine curve or horizontal S. The curve represents relative success with time, and may be used to chart anything from the rise and fall of empires to a product's life cycle. Both civil engineering's workload and universities' recruitment are cyclical.

278 Английский язык для студентов строительных специален эстей



Universities' recruitment increases.

One good numerical indicator of the "health" of civil engineering is how many school students wish to enter the profession. The number of home civil engineering applicants to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) reached the bottom of the current section of the sigmoid curve in 2002, and then experienced a modest increase. This benefits both the construction industry, which has been struggling to recruit enough graduate civil engineers, and universities' civil engineering departments, which need sufficient students to remain economically viable.

The University of Plymouth, where both authors work, runs separate degree courses that lead to chartered and incorporated engineer status. Despite more UK students now going to university than ever before, the number of home students admitted to the chartered course in the 2000s is lower than in the 1980s. In between there have been highs (96 students) and lows (25). Many factors influence these numbers, including the image and popularity of civil engineering compared to its competitor professions.

In 1997 anything associated with computers and electronic engineering was seen as positive and futuristic. The high point of computing's sigmoid curve was 2001, when there were 24 054 home applicants to UCAS for computer science; in 2006 there were 10 684, a fall of 56%. Applications for electronic and electrical engineering have also fallen sharply in the last few years. Their loss may have contributed to civil engineering's recovery.

Another interesting long-term fluctuation is the percentage of students admitted to the course at Plymouth with A-Ievels. At around 60% it is effectively the same in the mid-2000s as in the early 1980s. Again, there have been highs (82%) and lows (25%). Almost all of these students have a pass in A-level maths, a subject which itself has experienced fluctuating popularity. Following the 2000 curriculum reforms, there was a 29% failure in AS-level maths in 2001, which resulted in a 19% reduction in candidates for A-levcl maths and further maths in 2002.

The resulting alarm triggered adjustments to the maths A-level, which from 2003 onwards has been monitored independently of further maths. Since 2003, the proportion of candidates achieving the highest grade, A, has increased steadily to 44% in 2007, with

a further 21% obtaining grade B. This is relatively high compared to many other subjects. There has been some debate as to whether or not this represents a real improvement in standard. Some suggest that schools are being very selective about who they allow to take A-level maths, others that grade inflation has occurred.

It is beneficial to civil engineering that the possibility of achieving high grades now appears to be encouraging students to take A-level-maths and further maths. Indeed, 2007 saw the highest number of candidates since 2000. Vocational qualifications have also experienced some difficulties. In the mid-1980s the BTEC national diploma was revised; initially it contained insufficient maths, but this was rectified so that in 1993 it provided the majority of entrants to Plymouth's course. The BTEC national diploma was superseded by the mathematically weak AGNVQ and these students started arriving at Plymouth in 1995. The ill-conceived AGNVQ was soon replaced and, by 2002, Plymouth received students with the new BTEC national diploma. This can contain two maths units, but frequently only one is taken (out of a total of 18) so mathematics may represent only around 6% of the course. This is much less than the maximum of 33% obtained from three A-levels. Thus new national diploma students are often relatively weakin mathematical skills. In the 2000s, BTEC national diploma students represent a minority of Plymouth's entry.

Civil engineering education suffers from two continuing problems: Britain's aversion to maths and the lower academic status afforded to construction. In 2007, plans are well advanced in schools for the new "work-related" 14-19 diplomas. These are the equivalent of two to three A-levels in length of study and will provide another route into higher education. Available from September 2008, subjects include engineering and construction and the built environment. The UK Engineering Professors' Council complained that the new engineering diploma contained only around one-sixth of A-level maths, which is insufficient. At the eleventh year, some additional mathematics has been added. The construction diploma contains much less mathematics, and it is doubtful that, by itself, it will enable students to be successful on university chartered-level engineering degree courses.

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Civil engineering's improving image.

The Institution of Civil Engineers is to be commended for its contributions to the media through reports such as "The State of the Nation" and for its efforts to promote civil engineering through publications like "The Little Book of Civilisation". Civil engineering has also been the subject of a variety of entertaining television programmes, a recent example being National Geographic's "Megastructures" series, which featured the design and construction of the Burj Al-Arab hotel and The World islands in Dubai. Such programmes help overcome the invisibility of the profession and are to be welcomed.

Although civil engineering's popularity, as gauged by university applications, has increased recently, engineering as a whole still has image problems. Despite an overall 18% increase in home applicants to UCAS between 1994 and 2006, engineering's share of the total fell from around 4.8% in 1994 to 3.2% in 2003 and 2.9% in 2006.

However, the UK is not alone: Australia and Germany are also experiencing a shortage of graduate engineers. In Germany, where engineering is traditionally a respected profession, the declining status of engineering is being partially attributed to the rise of the environmental movement in the 1970s, which caused people to question the impact of technology on society and the environment. In 2003 the authors described a similar reaction in the UK. Civil engineering had a favourable image in the 1980s and early 1990s, when prestigious projects like the Thames Barrier and Channel Tunnel were headline news. This image was tarnished by environmental protests at Twyford Down, Newbury and elsewhere. As concerns about climate change increase, will there be a new cycle of environmental protests? In March 2008 national television news gave extensive coverage of protestors opposed to air travel and the extension of Heathrow airport.

Of all of the engineering disciplines, civil engineering is arguably best placed to overturn the environmentally unfriendly, boring image. There are many exciting and important projects currently in the news, including improvements to railways and new sports stadia such as facilities for the London 2012 Olympics. The fate of flooded

New Orleans underlined what might happen to London if the Thames Barrier and its associated flood defences are not upgraded in the next 20 years. Major proposed urban developments such as the Thames Gateway are possible only with adequate flood defences. The widespread flooding experienced across central England during the summer of 2007 not only highlighted the importance of flood defences, but also reminded everyone that a water supply and adequate sewerage should not be taken for granted. If global warming makes Britain's climate more extreme, the problem of coping with floods and droughts may become more challenging.

Of course, image is also influenced by earnings potential. Here there is mixed news for civil engineering. Civil engineers are still relatively poorly paid compared to professional engineering as a whole. Additionally, in 2003 surveys appeared to indicate that the majority of civil engineers were unhappy with their chosen profession and that 64% would consider leaving. In contrast, in 2007 they were apparendy the happiest in their field, with 58% being "always happy" and only 21% saying they would consider leaving. Working on a wide variety of projects contributed to this new-found happiness, which coincides with the industry enjoying a relatively high workload while a scarcity of civil engineering graduates has contributed to higher salaries. However, the industry is cyclical. The next downturn may reduce salaries and benefits again, increase problems with the retention of qualified engineers, and make the profession less attractive to school students.

There continues to be much good work being done in schools to promote engineering careers, and many of these involve hands-on activities designed to be inspirational. There is some loose coordination of activities but, as in 2003, there can be a confusingly large number of competing events available to teachers. To some extent this is inevitable, as different professions, careers, and trades compete to secure the best supply of individuals. For young people in schools it can be rather bewildering, especially since careers guidance continues to be minimal, which is perhaps one reason why stereotypes are so hard to change and many pupils continue to opt for what they know or feel is a safe or traditional choice.

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Women in civil engineering.

Just as nursing is frequently criticised for being predominandy female, so engineering is criticised for being predominantly male. Women now represent around 56% of all home university applicants, but civil engineering does not reflect this. In 1994, 11% of the home applicants to civil engineering were women, 15% in 2000 and 13% in 2006. Here it is more of a horizontal line than a sigmoid curve.

One obvious barrier to women entering engineering is the gender bias in A-level subjects: in 2007 women formed 69% of the candidates in English but only 22% in physics and 40% in maths, this last showing a small but steady increase recently. Other reasons why women are not attracted to engineering, and to civil engineering in particular, have been discussed elsewhere.

A recent survey by Atkins suggested that fears about unequal pay and career opportunities are still prevalent in construction and deter women from entering. In 2003, around 38% of the students entering architectural studies, but only 13% of the architectural profession as a whole, were women. This discrepancy was not attributed to a poor career choice or a lack of academic or practical ability, but to the failure of the profession to retain women.

Some of the reasons women leave could also affect men. These include low pay, long and inflexible or non-family-friendly working hours, macho culture, sidelining, unequal pay, sexism and lack of returner training after maternity leave. Recommendations to counter this include embedding of gender equality in universities' curricula, inclusion of equal-opportunities practice in the professional bodies' codes of practice, more affordable and flexible continuing professional development, mentoring and advisory or helpline support.

Many civil engineering companies have adopted more flexible, family-friendly working patterns and benefits that are no doubt appreciated by all employees. Nevertheless, the industry is still male-dominated and relatively unattractive to women. It is, of course, perfectly reasonable if women decide that they do not want to be engineers after having had access to good careers advice, and perhaps

having taken part in one of the many experiential activities on offer from universities and industry. It is disappointing if they are deterred from entering the profession through ignorance of what it is really like or unintentional discrimination once they get there. However, everyone agrees that engineering needs to recruit the best young minds — and half of these belong to women.


Civil engineering is in better health now than in May 2003. The profession is more visible than it was, the decline in university applicants has reversed, graduate shortages combined with a high workload means employment and starting salaries are relatively good, and most engineers are fairly happy in their work.

However, civil engineering is a notoriously "boom and bust" industry, and one of narrow profit margins. The danger is that the next downturn in workload will reduce salaries again and re-establish a macho long-hours culture at the expense of many of the flexible, family-friendly working practices that have been adopted. This can only result in the profession regaining its "unhappy" tag with a relatively low status, a poor image and recruitment and retention problems.

The climatic extremes of the summer of 2007, whether a blip of nature or a precursor of global warming, have brought to the public's attention the problems of flood protection, drainage, water supplies, sanitation and transportation systems. There have been few better opportunities for the civil engineering profession to present itself as the key provider of the essential services that have so long been taken for granted. Civil engineering is not about the past, it is about the future, and civil engineers can make a difference.

The time to ensure the future is when things are going well and the high point of the sigmoid curve has not yet been reached. By the time the peak has passed it is too late. The profession should aim to maintain into the future the progress that has already been made, continue to improve the areas that are still unsatisfactory and give some thought to new initiatives that might be introduced to enhance further both the image and the reality of civil engineering.

(New Civil Engineer International, November, 2008)

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