November started in style this year with a brilliant careers convention held at the Weston Homes Community Stadium north of Colchester. The event was organised by the Colchester 14-19 action group and I was there with other ICE members to promote careers in construction generally and civil engineering specifically.
The event was an all day affair. Between 9am and 3pm groups of Yr 11 students from local schools were bussed in and swarmed around the 80 or so exhibitors stands. From 3pm any age students plus parents and others were free to attend. The day ended at 7pm.
I heard the organisers say that they thought that 2,500 people had come through the door and it felt like it. We certainly got some great exposure and our stand was quite interesting and attracted some good interest.
I was there at 8am to set the stand up and was soon joined by ICE Essex Branch Vice Chairman Ian Bently of London Underground and then by David Goodliff of Network Rail who is another of our Vice Chair’s. Janet Nelson of URS Scott Wilson joined us at around 11am. Ian left in the early afternoon and we remaining stayed to the end. Our stand was really well manned and attended throughout the day which was great.
The event was spread over two floors of the west stand of the football stadium. We were in the smaller of the two rooms on the 1st floor but we still had at least a dozen stands comfortably in our room. There were maybe 8 or so stands also on the 2nd floor where there were also rooms where demonstrations/talks were going on throughout the day. Attendance at these was moderate at best.
There wasn’t much time throughout the day where our stand did not have students there asking questions or just enquiring what civil engineering was. Overall we reckon to have talked to between 30 to 40 students with genuine interest in the industry and maybe double that with a passing interest.
As we were well ‘manned’ it gave me the opportunity to wander a fair bit and do some networking. Spoke a couple of times to the chappie on the RIBA desk and to the lady on AMEC’s desk. Had a few chats with the Hutton Construction peeps and even provided ICE membership advice to the fella there. Also chatted to the TJ Evers Building Contractor chaps about the event and the state of the industry. All very rewarding.
The highlight of the day was at the very end where we had undertaken to do a demonstration/talk. I had had a few ideas of what to do including recreating the ‘Forth Bridge with people’ demo but in the end I went with a brief demo of West Point Bridge Designer followed by a load test on a paper bridge. That is the subject of a separate blog however….
A selection of photos are included below. Loads more can be seen in an album on my picasaweb photo sharing website here.