Organised by educational charity, The Smallpeice Trust, and sponsored by the Institution and Coventry University, a unique course helps students discover structural engineering fundamentals in a fun, competitive atmosphere. Alfred Gand, Director of the event at Coventry University, explains more.

Our annual course provides students with invaluable practical knowledge by challenging them to design, build and test model bridges. 

This year’s event ran from 9 to 12 July at Coventry University. 49 budding structural engineers aged 16 and 17 took part, gaining unique insight into fundamentals of structural materials and behaviour, including pressures, stresses and strains. 

Coventry Bridge Building Competition

They spent time discovering the principles of statics, mechanics, different structural forms and materials and also developed key skills and competencies such as teamwork, communication, problem-solving and time management. 
  
This year’s students demonstrated a great sense of energy, enthusiasm and dedication. Their structural concepts and bridge models showed real imagination and creativity. 

As always we’re really grateful to Institution members in the Midlands Region for their support: Susan Broadbent FIStructE (from Jacobs), Prashant Sikka MIStructE (from Cundall)) and Gary Corden MIStructE (from Ramboll) all did great work judging the final presentations and testing model bridges.

One of the most gratifying aspects of running a course like this is the feedback we receive from students. This year was no exception and shows the many ways that the course helps students focus their career ambitions. 

Coventry Bridge Building Competition

18 years old, from Winchester

“I am particularly interested in architectural/civil/structural engineering, and it was very nice to meet other people interested in the same thing as me and feel more included.”

17 years old, from Dorset

“My love of creative design inspires me to consider engineering as a career. I am still thinking about a specific branch of engineering and the course helps limit it down.”

16 years old, from Surrey

“My work experience in year 10 inspired me to consider engineering as a career. I am the only girl in my year at school interested in engineering, so it was useful mixing with other students interested in engineering.”

17 years old, from Guilford

“I have always liked practical tasks and making things and mixing with other students interested in engineering was useful. Getting their different views was really good for understanding what engineering had to offer. I enjoyed the project construction because you work together to produce something you’re proud of.”

17 years old, from Wokingham

“When I was younger, I used to want to be an architect but then discovered that I enjoyed engineering through Smallpeice course and now would like to study civil and architectural engineering.”

16 years old, from Lincolnshire

“A combination of a love of problem-solving and fascination with design, especially of bridges and structures, inspired me to consider engineering as a career. I am particularly interested in structure and design engineering.”

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