LtoR: Kyle Webb, Pauline Vipond (ICE Regional Education Coordinator), Jamie Smith (Tiling Lecturer), Connor College, Jordan Forbes, Ryan Carr, James Simpson and Jordan Harvey

Students Look To Bridge The Skills Gap

Mon, 2002-03-04 00:00

Construction students at East Durham College’s Technical Academy got to take part in an exciting engineering challenge this week.

Teams of students from each of the construction disciplines taught at the Academy; plastering, tiling, gas maintenance, electrical technology and fitted interiors, got to test their civil engineering skills as they built a 13-metre wide scale model of the second Severn Crossing cable-stayed bridge.

Throughout the week over 70 students took part in the challenge, which was provided as a team building exercise at the College’s campus based on Peterlee’s South West Industrial Estate.

The hour-long sessions were provided by the Institution of Civil Engineers’ (ICE) ‘Bridges for Schools’ project and ICE’s regional education coordinator Pauline Vipond.

And Pauline was delighted to see how positively the students had engaged with the bridge building challenge.

“All the students have been great. They have worked well in their teams, and even those that were not quite sure about it at first really got into it and enjoyed the challenge. They all got the opportunity to walk across the bridge to test their engineering skills too.

“We primarily run the project to help promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) education and careers in the North East.”

ICE tailors the bridge building sessions to aim the task at pupils and students from primary school age right up to university level, helping to teach them about civil engineering, maths and science - as well as team and leadership skills, and also providing important careers information on the civil engineering sector.

Tomorrow, the Academy at Shotton Hall and Glendene Arts Academy will send pupils to The Technical Academy to take part in sessions. These will also be attended by construction giant Carillion plc’s community liaison officer Jane Braybrook who will talk to the school pupils about the fantastic career opportunities in construction and civil engineering.

The Technical Academy’s education and centre manager Rob Hutchinson added: “We are very grateful to ICE for providing this exciting team building exercise for our students and some of our partner schools.

“It’s great, as well as the teambuilding aspect, it’s also helped some of our students think beyond domestic construction and to start realising there are also amazing opportunities in large-scale and civil construction.

“We are looking forward to teaming up with ICE’s Bridges for Schools project again over at the Peterlee Campus with our construction students over there.”

The students also provided some great feedback about the activity such as Darren Brown, 29, from Trimdon Station, who said: “I found it a really good exercise and it brought everyone in our team together. We then had to put our faith in our work by walking across it!”

And fellow electrical student Ehren Tanser, 17, from Wheatley Hill, added “The team building exercise went well and I thought it was fun and creative. We all worked well and did a good job of building our bridge.”

ICE North East currently has the bridge on loan from their Welsh division and recently had the loan extended until March 2014.