Engineers of the future announced
The winners of Telford & Wrekin Council’s two-part Big Bridge Challenge have been announced with the pupils hailed as budding engineers of the future.
Four finalists made up of primary and secondary school teams submitted bridges in categories for aesthetics and efficiency, built with only craft sticks, straws, glue, string and paper cups for the bridge building challenge.
The Council launched the competition to highlight the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mechanical (STEM) education in the borough through the Telford footbridge project.
The challenge is in conjunction with the national campaign for a ‘Year Of Engineering’ which “celebrates the world and wonder of engineering” and aims to “shake-up people’s ideas about engineering, inspiring the next generation of innovators, inventors and problem solvers by showing them what engineers actually do”.
More than 500 pupils took part in the team challenge and their models were judged by engineers from Telford footbridge project partners Balfour Beatty and Jacobs.
Redhill Primary and Charlton Secondary School won the aesthetics category by putting in an enormous effort building bridges that considered why people use the crossings, how to make them interesting and how structures can create landmark attractions for towns.
St Patrick’s Primary School and Telford Priory Secondary Schools won the efficiency categories creating sturdy models that withstood weights upwards of 5kg. They applied thinking around geometry and load to produce traditional designs based on beam structures, reinforced with layers of carefully placed supports.
The Linden School received a special award for the ‘most innovative design’ with a robust suspension bridge that really impressed the judges and showed some creative thinking around a unique design using struts in place for additional support.
The prize for Telford Priory School is a visit to Brighton’s i360, the innovative new observation tower on Brighton beach where they will be guided by an expert engineer. The other winning schools will be having a private aircraft viewing at RAF Museum Cosford and STEM workshops at Enginuity Science Museum.
Councillor Lee Carter, Cabinet Member for finance, commercial services & economic development said: “We’ve had a fantastic response from schools for this challenge and the teachers we’ve spoken to have said how much their pupils enjoyed it, giving pupils a chance to shine by using skills such as lateral and creative thinking, problem solving and teamwork.
“I’d like to thanks sponsors Balfour Beatty, Jacobs, RAF Museum Cosford and Enginuity Science Museum for their support and for providing pupils with such an engaging and rewarding learning opportunity.
“STEM education is hugely important which is why we held the challenge. Telford is the fastest growing town in England and future employment opportunities are developing around cyber security, agri-tech, new battery and car technology as well as various digital sectors.
“The local workforce will need skills to match the jobs of the future and that will involve people with a mix of abilities in STEM subjects as well as creative thinking and the arts.”
The second phase of the challenge is still open to schools to come up with a creative name for the new footbridge. Pupils can submit their entries online here or entry forms can be printed and submitted by Friday, 7 September 2018.
Pictured: Councillor Lee Carter, Telford & Wrekin Council's cabinet member for finance, commercial services and economic development with Tom Kavanagh, Jacobs Director of Operations with pupils of Charlton School.