School Children Called On To Construct Usable Bridge From Scratch

As part of the Institute of Civil Engineer’s (ICE’s) Bridges to Schools scheme, pupils from around the UK are being called upon to create their own working bridges completely from scratch.

The scheme was launched in the middle of last year in a bid to encourage more people to consider civil engineering as a career choice, as the sector now faces an ageing workforce and a likely skills shortage in the near future.

At these Bridges to Schools events, ICE ambassadors work to show the more dynamic side of a career in civil engineering, as well as emphasising the fact that more women are now entering into the profession and that there’s also the opportunity to earn while they learn via the Work+ apprenticeship.

According to the News Guardian, pupils at Churchill Community College, Norham High School and Riverside and Battle Hill primary schools in Northumberland were recently given the task of building a completely usable bridge entirely from scratch.

The students worked alongside civil engineers to build, cross and dismantle a 15m model of a cable-stayed bridge, a project that helped them gain a better understanding of various engineering projects, including plans to rebuild the Norham Road Bridge which runs over the A1058 Coast Road.

“This will be an unforgettable learning experience for everyone involved. We’re always looking for new opportunities to enhance our pupils’ learning and understanding of the world around them,” executive head teacher at Norham High School and Churchill Community College David Baldwin said.

Similarly, children from Sully Primary School in Wales were given the chance to become young civil engineers, taking part in workshops run by volunteer civil engineers. They were tasked with designing a bridge to cross the River Taff at the best location so as to reach a hypothetical new park over the water. They then had to come up with the best bridge design, keeping budget and the length of the river crossing in mind, using nothing but straws and sticky tape.

“We have a huge challenge ahead of us in Wales and across the UK to ensure we have enough highly skilled civil engineers to meet demand. In fact, we need to double the number of apprentices and graduates entering the industry and this is why collaborative, inspirational workshops in schools are so important,” ICE Wales Cymru director Keith Jones commented.

It certainly seems as though the ICE is doing all it can to showcase the benefits of civil engineering as a career for young people in the UK. As well as its Bridges to Schools scheme, the organisation recently welcomed more than 3,000 students to its stand at the Big Bang Fair, showcasing six areas of civil engineering and holding a 45-second quiz for students to find out what kind of engineer they could turn out to be.

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