Inspiring future engineers at Belfairs Academy

A couple of weeks ago I spent the day at my daughters school – Belfairs Academy in Westcliff – supporting their careers fair.  I was there in my capacity as a STEM Ambassador / Chartered Civil Engineer representing the industry as a whole but I was also representing my employer Taylor Woodrow and the wider Vinci group.

It was a full day with students from years 7 to 13 passing through in groups from 9am to 4pm and I was pleased with the interest shown in my stand by both boys (mostly) and girls (more than you would expect).  It was re-assuring too that there were a number of students – both boys and girls – saying they had already decided that civil engineering or construction was their chosen career.

Me and my stand
Me and my stand

The eye-candy on my stand (aside from me of course) was the crane I had assembled from a PASCO bridge kit our ICE SLO looks after. This proved a great draw to the stand and gave us something to talk about which led into discussions about structural design and forces, along with use of cranes on construction projects.  It was a great talking point.  I was also able to show a video of Mammoet ring cranes (1275t lift at 100m radius) too to give context to the model.

4D Construction Simulation
4D Construction Simulation

Most of the time I had a looping 4D BIM (Building Information Modelling) movie running which also drew interest and led to discussion on the increasing use of digital engineering in design and construction.  This led me in some cases to fire up Synchro and show some 3D models live including one of the Castleton M4 junction which itself linked nicely to the 3D printed model of  a section of that junction that I had on display.  3D models and 3D printing also prompted lots of discussion.

Lots of interest on my stall right to the end.

All in all the props worked really well and facilitated some great discussion.  At one stage one year 9 lad was quizzing me about structural members and asking about the strength and use of cylinders which – via the picture of the tubular props holding up the pile wall on the Taylor Woodrow banner – resulted in my sketching out ground and water loading on excavation sides! He took it all in too. Temporary Works designer of the future me thinks.

Students loved the crane which prompted much discussion

It was reassuring that many students were also thinking big and thinking about higher education. There were of course many asking about apprenticeships although many hadn’t thought about being sponsored students or that ICE Quest Scholarships can be had to assist with the cost of university courses.

Fair to say mostly boys at the stand but a good few girls too.

All in all a very enjoyable and rewarding – if tiring – day.

If anyone reading this wants to know more about civil engineering or construction then look up the ICE Website at or feel free to email me at NOYNEK99@GMAIL.COM and I will assist where I can.

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