Published: 18 February 2015

The future of Caribbean design

Careers, Education

The winning team!

The Institution’s Caribbean Regional Group held its 7th Annual Secondary Schools Design Competition on 31 January at The University of West Indies, St Augustine Campus, Trinidad. Savitree Singh and Tiffani de Verteuil, both Graduate Members of the Institution, helped out at the event. Here they talk us through the Competition and explain why they volunteer.

We are both on the planning committee for the Design Competition and volunteer annually. There is a really strong interest in engineering careers workshops in Trinidad and Tobago’s schools, and the response is always overwhelming – we had 32 schools attend this year, compared to 27 in 2014’s event. Schools and students alike seem to really value the practical, fun bridge-building challenge – we always get a very positive response for the event.

Volunteering is a great experience, as we get to interact with the students (mostly aged between 14 and 17) and explain what we do on a daily basis, giving them some practical insight into what’s involved in engineering careers. Most students attend as they already have a strong interest in the field, so they are always eager to hear from us.  We were helped out by a number of third-year Civil Engineering students from the University, who were really enthusiastic and created a great atmosphere for the competition.

Testing a bridge

192 students attended the event, split into teams of six students per Secondary school. Each team was asked to construct a bridge made from newspaper and scotch tape – before each completed bridge was loaded progressively until collapse. It’s a great way to illustrate the vital applications of structural engineering – and fun too.
The winning bridges were designed by Chaguanas North Secondary School (First Prize), Cowen Hamilton Secondary School (Second Prize) and Shiva Boys’ Hindu School (Third Prize) respectively. The Prize for the “Most Aesthetic” entry was presented to the boys of Fatima College.

We’d like to thank our event partners, The Association of Professional Engineers of Trinidad and Tobago (APETT) and the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering of the University of the West Indies for all their support in putting on the event, plus BGTT, iSIMS Trinidad Limited, Micro Milling Ltd and Atkins Trinidad for sponsoring the First, Second, Third and “Most Aesthetic” Prizes respectively.

This event grows and grows each year and makes a real contribution to the careers choices young people make in Trinidad and Tobago. We’re proud to help organise it and hope to see it grow even larger next year.



Anthony Farrell
This event started in 2009 following a visit to the Caribbean by then President Sarah Buck in the centennial year of the Institution. The first competition was actually held in Barbados during the visit of President Buck followed by the one in Trinidad. One was also held in Jamaica but the one in Trinidad was the only one that has grown. The 2012 event featured building of a tower. It is amazing to see the enthusiasm of the participants.
18/02/2015 17:09:13

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