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Budding engineers collaborate to design and build outstanding bridges at Coventry University


A unique course helps students discover structural engineering fundamentals in a fun, competitive atmosphere.

The event is organised by educational charity, The Smallpeice Trust, and sponsored by the Institution and Coventry University. Alfred Gand, director of the event, explains more.

The course, running for the 9th consecutive year, has inspired close to 450 budding engineers with practical knowledge by challenging them to design, build and test model bridges. 

This year’s event ran from 15 to 18 July at Coventry University. Forty young and enthusiastic budding structural engineers took part, coming from across the UK and from Belgium. The participants, aged 16 and 17, gained a unique insight into the fundamentals of structural materials and behaviour, including pressures, stresses and strains. 

The course was designed to be engaging, with sessions ranging from structural engineering concepts and fundamentals, freehand sketching and Google Sketchup and bridge engineering.

Participants also developed essential skills and competencies such as teamwork, communication, problem-solving and time management. 
  
The participants demonstrated a great sense of energy, enthusiasm and dedication. Their development of structural concepts and bridge models showed real imagination and creativity. 

As always we are grateful to Institution members in the Midlands Region for their support: Paola Casagrande MIStructE (from Ramboll), Prashant Sikka MIStructE (from Cundall), and Harpreet Sidhu (from WSP) 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. 

17 years old, from Ashtead
“I needed something for my CV and wanted to learn more about what structural engineering involves and if it is right for me. Building a bridge with a presentation was different. At school, we do not work in teams and build things.”

17 years old, from London
“My main interest is physics, and the idea of applying the principles in physics to create things is appealing to me. The course had more application of principles, and it was useful to learn more about CAD and sketching. I am planning to pursue engineering in general, but undecided on a specific field.”

16 years old, from Edinburgh
“My mum wanted me to attend the course, and it sounded useful. The course was very hands-on and interesting. The course has shown me what kind of things engineering students do.”

17 years old, from Waahurst
“I entered the summer school because it was a chance to further my experience, but also to prove to universities admission boards that I have the desire to do engineering. Working with people was useful to lean their opinions. I was inspired into engineering because of the ability to be able to design and make products has always been enjoyable to me.”

17 years old, from Harpenden

“I really enjoy learning about different buildings and wanted to build some for myself, so my family said I should consider being an engineer. It was brilliant to have a common interest in engineering, which meant we all thought along the line lies hen planning the bridge design. The course has confirmed in my mind that civil/structural engineering is the right degree for me to study at university.”


Find information about similar courses on the Smallpeice Trust website

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