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Published on : Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Network Rail and the Institute of Civil Engineering (ICE) visited Twechar Primary School to help encourage its pupils to become the engineers of the future with an innovative hands-on workshop – the Bridges to Schools initiative.
Network Rail graduate engineers from the Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP), visited the school to help raise awareness of the range of career opportunities in civil engineering.
The 24 P6 and P7 children split into two teams and were tasked with completing the installation of a 12.5m long cable-stayed bridge, made from aluminium and plywood decking and stainless steel cables. Once the bridges were built, the students walked across their constructions to test their stability.
As well as building the bridge, pupils also learned more about civil engineering in the real world, including finding out about work on the nearby Drumgrew Road railway bridge which was recently replaced as part of EGIP.
The bridge reconstruction at Drumgrew is part of route clearance works to create the extra height needed beneath a number of bridges to allow overhead power cables to be installed.
A £742m Scottish Government-funded investment, EGIP is delivering a rolling programme of electrification across the central belt – reducing journey times and increasing capacity on routes by improving the infrastructure to enable faster, greener trains to run.
Neal McKenzie, the project manager delivering the bridge programme at Drumgrew, said: “The workshops are great fun and the pupils get stuck into the practical challenge of building a bridge. But while doing the practical task, they are learning so much more about engineering in the wider world, and on their doorstep – the children can see the real benefit of replacing the old bridge with a new one for both rail and road improvements.
“Across the UK, the civil engineering industry needs more than a million new engineers and technicians by 2020* if we are to plug the skills gap. Initiatives like Bridges to Schools have an important role to play in helping to stimulate interest in engineering and the wide range of opportunities it can offer. Given the feedback from the pupils, I’m confident that we have a few aspiring engineers in the making.”
More Bridges to Schools workshops are planned at primary schools during the delivery of the EGIP project, which is scheduled to complete in 2019.Mrs Marion MacIsaac, head teacher of Twechar Primary School, said: “As part of the Bridges to Schools workshop, our senior children enjoyed the opportunity of some real-life engineering. They were able to use and develop their skills in teamwork, co-operation and problem solving and apply them in a large-scale, relevant context. This was inter-disciplinary learning at its best.