Construction Curriculum

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Please contact Lauren Stack at 858.720.1001 x805 or lauren@watershape.org for the New Program Proposal form.

School of Construction

Watershape University’s construction curricula encompasses a broad spectrum of topics with a tight focus on the fine points of craftsmanship, best practices and how competent installation is both essential, and achievable given the right skillsets.

CON 1111: WU White Papers on Key Issues

1.5 hours
Learning Outcomes
● Discuss creation of WU position statements and their purpose.
● Explain how WU position statements relate to and are supported by other applicable 
industry standards, codes and recommendations.
● List and discuss specific statements including structural, hydraulic, safety, and energy 
considerations.
One of Watershape University’s objectives is to develop and disseminate white papers that support excellence in watershape design, engineering, construction and business practices. This program
explores those statements and why they are crucial to the advancement of the watershaping 
industry, its professionals and the consumers it serves.

CON 2111: Essential Pool Construction

24:00 hrs
Learning Outcomes
•  List engineering disciplines: geotechnical, hydraulic, structural and electrical and the differences between concrete, vinyl, and fiberglass vessels.
•  Examine project layout, form design/construction, shotcrete application and
waterproofing measures.
•  Examine artisan points: tile and coping, decking, plaster preparations, cementitious
finishes, materials science.
•  Discuss start-up procedures, punch-list execution and project conclusion/hand over.

Students spend three days carefully examining the key elements of swimming pool construction with a focus on how basic engineering directly determines construction methods and details. Day One covers basic engineering (listed above), Day Two moves through construction phases including layout, forming, utilities, safety barriers, shotcrete, waterproofing, tile and coping, all with an eye toward exceeding standards and best practices. The program concludes with discussions about concrete decking, plaster science and start-up methods.

​CON 2121: Introduction to Site Evaluations & Surveying

Register Here for Birmingham, AL March 16, 2020
8:00 hrs
Learning Outcomes
●Identify lasers, site levels, transits, tapes and satellite imagery.
●Describe key site elements including dimensions, elevations, slopes, angles and line-of-sight issues.
●Examine basic drawing and site evaluation and measurement documentation.
●Review where and how to use online data such as Google Earth, county records and aerial photos.

Accurate and insightful site evaluations enable designers to maximize a property’s aesthetic possibilities, while accurate site surveying data is essential for proper engineering and construction. This entry-level, hands-on class examines effective evaluation and surveying needed to collect data required for the design and engineering processes.

CON 2131: Breaking Ground: Layout & Excavation

1.5 hrs
Learning Outcomes
●Define the connection between plan documents, excavation and forming.
●Review elevations, grading, slopes, cut/fill transitions, soil import and export, layout, offsets, alignments, and batter-boards.
●List tools, equipment, measurement techniques for conducting accurate surveys
●Describe transits, levels and triangulation techniques.
●Review safety, excavation, trenching, shoring and flashing, and the importance of using DigAlert.

Watershape construction begins with layout and excavation, determining the shape, location and internal contours of the vessel. Ensuring that the final structure matches the construction documents requires attention to detail during the layout, forming and excavation phases. The course focuses on the importance and fine points of these early steps in the installation process.

For details on full-height forming, see CON 2121: Introduction to Site Evaluations & Surveying

​CON 2211: Reinforced Concrete Watershapes

Register Here for Birmingham, AL March 17, 2020
8:00 hrs
Learning Outcomes
●List key structural concepts including compression, tension, shear forces, bending moments, and live and dead loads.
●Describe reinforcing steel design, its installation, and detailing custom steel structures.
●Review code requirements and reinforcing standards.
●Define best practices for shotcrete preparation, equipment setup, and placement.

Steel reinforcement is one of the most fundamental elements in concrete watershape construction; understanding its importance, how it’s engineered, and how to properly install steel are all essential to the success of any reinforced concrete structure. This program explores the fundamentals of steel and the structural engineering principles behind its use.

CON 2231: Introducting The Shotcrete Process

3:00 hrs
Learning Outcomes
●Define shotcrete, mix design, aggregates, water/cement ratios, admixtures.
●Identify equipment including air compressors, concrete pumps, nozzles both dry- and wet-mix.
●Discuss proper shotcrete techniques.
●List code requirements, ACI and ASA standards, Certified Nozzlemen.
Shotcrete is the preferred method of concrete placement for over 90% of pools, understanding the basics of its application is therefore essential to a vast majority of watershaping projects. This basic class defines the process and reveals how it gives the builder flexibility to create vessels of most any shape and size, all based on the technical foundations established by the ACI and ASA standards, as well as the many years of hands-on instructor experience with the shotcrete process.

CON 2233: Nozzleman Training

8 hours

Learning Outcomes
•   List shotcrete terminology and common applications.
•   Correlate concrete science and product performance expectations.
•   Examine equipment use and set up.
•   Experience hands-on application training, based on American Shotcrete Association guidelines and standards.
•   Discuss concrete defects and their impact on structural integrity.

This hands-on class provides a comprehensive primer on basic shotcrete science, technology and standard site preparation and practices. The course concludes with a multiple-choice, oral and hands-on examinations, requiring an aggregate 75% score for a passing grade.

CON 2321: Coordinating Site & Infrastructure Issues

1.5 hours

Learning Outcomes
●List key infrastructure features/devices that impact watershapes, including auto-fill systems, backflow preventers, overflows, sanitary sewer connections, landscape/storm drain connections.
●Examine natural gas supply sizing and details, propane systems, and heater exhaust and ventilation.
●Discuss how component selection, pumps, filters, heaters, heat exchangers, solar, chemical systems, ozone, and controllers, dovetail with site and infrastructure issues.

●Identify safety barriers, fencing, gates, door alarms, pool alarms, automatic safety covers, and various commercial requirements.


All watershapes exist in situ and therefore require specific infrastructure to support operation, including water, sewer, gas, and electrical utilities as well as safety and security support in the form of fencing, safety covers, alarms, etc. Failing to accommodate those factors can result in changes and unnecessary costs. This programs details items that may need to be included in a project as well as code requirements, so that projects are completed smoothly and on time.

CON 2341: Watershape Plumbing Installation

2 hours

Learning Outcomes
●Discuss the physics of water including pressure, flow rate, velocity, head resistance and energy consumption.
●Calculate Total Dynamic Head (TDH) and applying system curves, pump curves and equipment selection.
●List code requirements, limitations and recommended design parameters for safety and energy efficiency.
●Review important plumbing and equipment installation details.


This program introduces basic hydraulic concepts and provides the student with a series of construction details and best practices, with a focus on installing plumbing for basic pools and spas.


Note: This class not intended to enable students how to run a complete TDH analysis or design complicated systems, or address gravity systems or water-in-transit system.

CON 2451: Handing it Over: Startups, Punchlists & Project Closeouts

1.5 hours

Learning Outcomes
●Discuss equipment startup including making adjustments, calibrating, testing, and troubleshooting.
●Review a generic checklist, project-specific punch list, owner’s manuals and operating instructions.
●Examine walkthrough and training owners and pool operators.
●Discuss documentation including as-builts, final inspections, permit closure and preliminary notices.


Success is often about the art of finishing. This course covers the fine points of crossing the finish line and handing over the project with competent, concise and complete information. This course defines how these important final steps ensure customer satisfaction and system knowledge, and work to avoid costly problems and even disputes that can occur in the aftermath of project completion.

CON 2621: Dampproofing Techniques

1.5 hours

Learning Outcomes
●Discuss integral concrete waterproofing admixtures.
●Examine penetrating waterproof products, and compatibility with other products.
●Examine topical waterproofing products and compatibility with other products.
●Review preparation, application, and testing techniques.


Preventing leaks, wicking action, weeping water, efflorescence, expansion/contraction, and thermal shock is essential to the durability and service life of concrete structures and finishes. This program explores and defines the installation of waterproofing systems under tile, coping, plaster, rockwork (both natural and fabricated), and features such as vanishing edges, which require robust waterproofing to resist long-term damage.

CON 2641: Tile & Coping Basics

1 hours

Learning Outcomes
●Identify tools for tile preparation including water levels, lasers, notch trowels, etc.
●Describe commonly used materials including porcelain and ceramic tile, mesh-mount tile, face-mounted tile, mortars, thinsets, grouts and sealers.
●Review installation standards, methods and common mistakes.
●Examine coping details and installation, expansion joints and installation sequencing.


Tile and waterline tile are common to almost every inground watershapes design. This course examines the best practices for basic tile and coping installation following the guidelines of the Tile Council of North America and other sources.

CON 2671: Installing Decks & Drain Systems

1 hours

Learning Outcomes
●Identify key deck and drain system elements including layout, expansion joints, crack control joints, slopes, drains, and elevations.
●Discuss substrate/base preparation, steel reinforcement, rebar support, welded wire mesh, perimeter footing details, equipotential bonding.
●Examine concrete decking materials, colorants, exposed aggregates, acid-washed finishes, deck veneers.
●Review deck construction elements including pumping, screeding, troweling, and finishing techniques.


Even the most beautiful watershape can be spoiled by shabby, cracked decking. This program focuses on reliable flatwork design, detailing and construction including how to add crack control joints, expansion joints, and how to properly slope planes towards deck drains and planter areas to control and direct rain runoff.

CON 2681: Plaster Prep

1 hours

Learning Outcomes
●Demonstrate pressure test removal including cutting, cleaning, and draining plumbing lines, as well as preparing skimmers and surge basins.
●Review cleanup, nail and wire removal, patching, pressure washing, and installing hydrostatic valves.
●List details for return lines, suction outlets, light niches, waterstops and other fittings, and the use of hydraulic cement.
●Identify relevant equipment, utilities, and safety verification/inspections.


Preparation for plaster application should never be left as a last-minute afterthought, it’s too important to the success of the finish. This program defines the tasks, pitfalls, and errors that many builders and plasterers make in preparing the shell for a plaster finish.

CON 2682: Understanding Cementitious Pool Finishes

2 hours

Learning Outcomes
● List the many types of cementitious watershape finishes including plaster, colored plaster, Hydrazzo, PebbleTec, Wet Edge, and other aggregate finishes.
●Review proper installation techniques and details as promulgated by the National Plasterer’s Council.
●Examine proper startup procedures.
●Discuss short-term and long-term care considerations.


Cementitious watershape surfaces come in many forms of plaster and exposed aggregate options. This course examines their characteristics, and proper installation and start-up procedures needed to avoid common surface problems. This program gives students a clear understanding the numerous variables and parameters that impact finish appearance and performance, all with an eye toward establishing realistic client expectations.

CON 2711: Major Renovations: Design & Planning

16 hours

Learning Outcomes
●Explore the scope and nuances of major renovation projects.
●Review images that will inspire design and illustrate key concepts.
●Develop a complete renovation project from site analysis, troubleshooting existing problems and failures, through first-draft design.
●Describe the scope of work, design, material selection, structural engineering, mechanical systems, construction considerations and project management.


As existing pools age and ownership turns over to a new generation, major renovations have become a larger and larger part of the watershape construction market. This in-depth, two-day major-renovation design course is formatted with a series of targeted lectures supporting an interactive renovation design project.

CON 2921: Profiling Outstanding Projects, Start to Finish

1.5 hours

Learning Outcomes
●Review high-end residential project profiles.
●Examine, project conditions, client expectations and design challenges.
●Describe the collaborative process with clients and other project team members.
●List design changes, engineering considerations, project limitations, design and detail execution.
●Discuss completed projects and learning experiences/takeaways.


WU’s Project Profile Track highlights outstanding and unique work presented by the industry’s leading designers and builders.

CON 2951: Understanding Construction Defects

3 hours

Learning Outcomes
●Review the causes of structural failures.
●Discuss identification of basic concrete science and cracking.
●Identify product defects within pool structure tear-outs.
●Examine preventive measures and common construction mistakes.


This course begins with overview of basic concrete science and cracking identification and then moves into a careful analysis of specific failures common to concrete watershape constructions. Students will follow the progression of the failure and identify the steps in the construction process in order to identify where the disaster began.

CON 3231: ACI-Certified Shotcrete Nozzleman Classroom Training (Wet & Dry Processes)

8 hours

Learning Outcomes

Define what it takes to be a truly professional Nozzleman.
●Review the implications of Nozzleman education and best practices from the applicator’s perspective, as well as for pool owners, contractors and project managers.
●Discuss the ACI Manual CP-60 Craftsman Workbook for ACE Certification of Shotcrete Nozzleman and relevant American Shotcrete Association guidelines, and position statements, and Nozzleman certification as defined by ACI-506R-16 “Guide to Shotcrete.”  
●Identify key craftsmanship issues including compressive values for pool shotcrete, water tightness, avoiding the use of rebound and the nature of monolithic concrete structures.
●Discuss design and engineering details, and review parameters needed in place before, during, and after shooting takes place.


Proper shotcrete application is a cornerstone of quality watershape construction. This course details the American Concrete Institute requirements for concrete structures and shotcrete application necessary to ensure proper placement and strength.


Note: this discussion is continued in greater depth in C2232 Shotcrete Codes & Standards.

CON 3261: Vanishing Edge Construction

2 hours

Learning Outcomes

●Discuss excavation and drainage underneath vanishing edge damn walls and catch basins.
●Identify proper forming and load resistance.
●Review proper and improper plumbing and hydraulic designs.
●Identify shotcrete applications do’s and don’ts.

Vanishing edges remain one of the watershaping industry’s most popular and distinctive design features. Using real case studies of both successful and failed projects, this course describes the steps necessary to successfully construct a vanishing edge swimming pool that will last and deliver the desired, almost magical effect.

CON 3561: Fundamentals of Fire

2 hours

Learning Outcomes
●Review fire feature types including fireplaces, fire pits, fire bowls, and other architectural fire elements.
●List and emphasize the importance of safety measures and technology.
●Examine fire-related construction details including combustion air, water drainage, thermal shielding, firebrick, and ignition systems.
●Describe fire automation technology, electrical power requirements, and low voltage vs. high voltage systems.


Fire has attracted and captivated humans from the dawn of time, and it’s not surprising that fire features comprise a spectrum of popular landscape and watershaping features. This program examines new fire technology and how it is being combined with a vibrant sense of style and design that has driven fire feature demand and design, all with an eye on critical infrastructure and safety issues.

CON 3621: Understanding "Dampproofing": A Panel Discussion

3 hours

Learning Outcomes

Objectives
●Review applicable codes, standards, guidelines, and best practices for waterproofing and watershape finishes.
●Identify specific items that cause failures.
●List liabilities, warranties, risk, and expectations for various installation types.
●Discuss possible solutions and measure that could be researched and developed to support the watershaping industry, and reduce builder liability.


Creating watertight vessels is one of the industry’s most fundamental mandates. In this panel discussion, experts from the waterproofing and pool finish industries address the challenges, concerns, and the solutions available to watershape builders.

CON 3651: All Glass-Tile Pool Installation

2 hours

Learning Outcomes
●Examine glass tile, mosaic tile, and all-tile pools.
●Review tile and surface preparation techniques and procedures.
●Examine layout issues including seams, coves, weirs, and step/bench edges.
●Discuss installation methods following TCNA standards.


This program introduces and reinforces best practices for glass-tile installation following the guidelines of the Tile Council of North America. Students will learn the fine points of installing all-glass tile surfaces from a leading glass-tile installer, and review project and detail photos.

CON 3681: The Plasterer's Guide to Shotcrete/Gunite Issues

2 hours

Learning Outcomes

●Review key factors when assessing concrete surfaces prior to finish installation including types of cracks, mix design, use of rebound, and non-homogenous materials.
●Describe proper inspection points for problems with penetrations and/or fitting perforations.
●Discuss how to test shell integrity with sounding techniques, the rebound hammer test, and minor destructive explorations.


The American Concrete Institute and the American Shotcrete Association maintain and promulgate detailed standards for proper in-place shotcrete/gunite construction. Problems with plaster such as delamination and cracking are among the common problems caused by neglecting these basic guidelines. This course enables plasterers to identify a pool’s structural flaws, proper remediation, and the importance of alerting the builder to possible surface issues arising from the condition of the shell.

​CON 3731: Concrete Crack Prevention & Repair

1.5 hours

Learning Outcomes
●List and identify the types of cracks common concrete watershape pool structures including, plastic shrinkage, thermal and autogenous cracks.
●Examine the causes of pool shell cracks.
●Discuss solutions and prevention.


This program reveals the causes of pool shell cracking and strategies for prevention and remediation, including answers to basic questions such as how concrete cracks, why it cracks and the ways that cracking is driven by mix design and placement procedures.

CON 3921: Watershaping in Challenging Sites

2 hours

Learning Outcomes

●Discuss the impact of challenging topography, limited access and soil problematic conditions.
●Review construction documents and project coordination.
●Examine how cranes, drilling rigs, full-height forming, and double-curtain steel construction are used to overcome challenging site conditions.
●Identify hillside work, rooftop pools, remote locations, adverse soil conditions.


Working on a challenging site can test the mettle of the most accomplished watershaping professional. Yet, some of the most spectacular pools in the world hang off the side of a cliff or were built on a site where everything had to be craned into position over the house. This program profiles real-world scenarios in which advanced solutions were used to achieve the seemingly impossible.

CON 3922: Using Cast-in-Place Concrete at Challenging Sites

2 hours

Learning Outcomes
●Define situations where cast-in-place concrete is a smart choice for some challenging sites and projects.
●Describe the design and engineering details for reinforcing, forming, cold joints, waterstops, appurtenances and other elements of cast-in-place construction techniques.
●Examine tricky project features including cantilevers, suspended pools, post-tension systems, acrylic windows, and movable floors.
●Review concrete mix design specific to cast-in-place watershapes.


Cast-in-place concrete encompasses some of the most precise construction techniques used by the watershaping industry’s most accomplished practitioners. This program defines situations in which cast-in-place is the best choice, and the critical role engineers play in these challenging installations.

CON 3951: Construction Defects

2 hours

Learning Outcomes
•   List basic formulas and scientific principles supporting sound, water-tight concrete watershape vessels.
•   Define defect parameters and performance expectations and standards.
•   Solve structural defects with corresponding corrective measures.
•   Explore real-world defect cases, on site and in the classroom.

Inground concrete structures meant to indefinitely contain water are prone to significant and potentially disastrous defects when not built correctly. Those preventable missteps often result in structural failures and result in all-too-frequent litigation. This course examines effective preventive and corrective techniques, workmanship and performance standards that prevent costly defects and damage.

CON 4111: Watershape Construction: Advanced Techniques

24 hours

Learning Outcomes
●Review site work including gravity plumbing, soil stabilization, pier and beam foundations, advanced site work and forming, and control and automation systems.
●Identify mechanical, venting and exhaust systems, and automation/control systems.
●Examine architecturally integrated watershapes, concrete science, fire elements and glass-tile installation.
●Consider innovative aesthetic details, technical solutions to unique challenges and construction strategies at difficult sites.


This rigorous three-day program is presented sequentially by experts from each trade, unifying all watershaping technical disciplines into a manageable and disciplined process.

CON 4161: Advanced Site Work & Forming

2 hours

Learning Outcomes
●Discuss pre-loading soil for compaction, over-excavation, backfill, soil density testing, and stabilization.
●Examine full-height forms, one-sided shotcrete forms, two-sided cast-in-place forms and ties.
●Identify cold joints, waterstops, layout for sequential reinforced concrete construction.
●Practice calculations and review pre-concrete preparation, form removal and reuse.


This program delves deep into site work including soil remediation and compaction, and how to construct various types of low-tolerance, full-height forms to withstand the vibration and force of shotcrete application, or the weight and pressure of cast-in-place concrete.

CON 4231: ASA Best Practices for Shotcrete

2 hours

Learning Outcomes
●Define code requirements for shotcrete found in the International Building Code, the American Concrete Institute 318 & 350 and the American Shotcrete Association’s guidelines and position statements.
●Discuss design, engineering, details, overview of parameters needed in place before, during, and after shooting takes place.
●Examine nozzleman certification.


This in-depth program details the requirement established by the American Concrete Institute, American Shotcrete Association and other organizations for concrete structures and shotcrete. The ASA contributes to the development of the ACI codes, which include shotcrete-specific guidelines and position statements designed to help ensure proper placement and overall strength. Students will examine the important requirements of ACI Shotcrete Nozzleman Certification.

CON 4241: ACI Best Practices for Cast-in-Place Concrete

2 hours

Learning Outcomes
●Identify the differences between cast-in-place concrete and shotcrete.
List code requirements, International Building Code, ACI 318, and ACI 350.
●Review design, engineering, and details, including forming, construction sequence and other considerations.
●Identify forming, sequence of construction, construction considerations.


Cast-in-place concrete is not widely used in the pool and spa industry, but when it’s done properly the result is a vessel with precise dimensional tolerances, perfectly flat surfaces, and square planes. Cast-in-place structures often provide a perfect canvass for glass-tile mosaics. This course explains ACI requirement and other key considerations.

CON 4331: Plumbing

4 hours

Learning Outcomes
•   Define fundamental hydraulic principles including pipe and equipment sizing, flow rate and pressure, among others.  
•   Practice basic hydraulic calculations.
•   Explore quality plumbing installations with an eye toward defining artisan details.
•   Examine plumbing loop, filter and equipment pad installation.
•   List plumbing variations for attached spas, vanishing edges, associated waterfeatures and surge capacity and control.

This track of classes takes place at various satellite campuses where students learn how to configure and plumb equipment pads and external plumbing, including circulation manifolds, skimmers, drains and returns. Course testing will include both written and hands-on exams.

CON 4651: Translucent Magic, Installing Glass Tile

2 hours

Learning Outcomes
●Identify glass tile in pools and examine how it differs from other types of tile.
●List industry standards and best practices for glass-tile installations.
●Examine how the translucency of glass tile opens a “viewing window” into the substrate beneath the surface.
●Review video demonstrations of proper installations techniques including substrate preparation, waterproofing options, and application and troweling techniques.
●Discuss material selection, mounting systems, jobsite conditions, ambient temperatures, cure times, and water chemistry.


Glass tile is increasingly popular, and it’s also the most expensive pool surface material, as well as the most demanding to properly install. Its growing widespread use has led to concerns about a handful of specific problems including material discoloration, thermal-shock cracking and even microbial colonies that sometimes become visible through the finished surface. This program is designed to address those concerns, and provide a systematized installation method to help ensure long-term performance and beauty.

CON 4661: Masonry

4 hours

Learning Outcomes
•   List types of masonry elements including tile, coping, decking, weir edges, overflows, bond beams, mortar beds, control and expansion.
•   Examine the effects of treated water on masonry features aquatic environment, submerged, wet/dry applications and proximate applications.
•   Discuss product defect and failure issues.
•   Develop application skills through hands-on training.

Masonry skills are essential for quality pool installations. These hands-on classes develop and reinforce skills needed for bond-beam and waterline work, and how apply materials to ensure proper bonding and lasting durability. The courses will be staged at manufacturer and other industry locations, covering a variety of detailed techniques and product applications.