Building bridges: schoolchildren become engineers for the day at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

This week, (21, 22, 23 January 2020), 180 primary school children from Newham, Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Waltham Forest are experiencing a taste of civil engineering at Here East in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as part of the Bridges to Schools programme.
 
The students used their heads (and their hands) to work out how to build a 13-metre model cable-stayed bridge, while kitted out in hard hats, high-vis vests, gloves and goggles. After the bridge was built, each child got the chance to walk across the bridge to test how good their engineering skills were.
 
This event, led by the London Legacy Development Corporation, the Institution of Civil Engineers and infrastructure group Balfour Beatty, aims to raise awareness of the exciting careers that engineering and the built environment can offer young people. 
 
The pupils learnt about the importance of safe working practices and collaboration as well as the engineering principles and techniques involved in building a bridge including: counter weights, towers in compression and cables in tension. Each session was presented by members of the Institution of Civil Engineers, who took questions about what it is like to work in the field.
 
Bridges to Schools was launched by the Institution of Civil Engineers in 2012 and aims inspire and motivate young people to take up a career in science or engineering field. Students are encouraged to improve their knowledge in physics, maths and other related subjects. 
 
Paul Brickell, Executive Director of Regeneration and Community Partnerships at London Legacy Development Corporation, said: “These events on the Park capture the imagination of young people and help to unlock their huge talent and potential. I hope it inspires some of them to become engineers and the builders of our future parks, homes and universities.”
 
Jonathan Baggs, Regional Director at the Institution of Civil Engineers, said: “It is fantastic that so many young people attended the bridge building event at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Our aim is to show young people the important role that civil engineering plays in creating a positive impact for the community. Today gave the students the opportunity to apply what they have learnt in the classroom and experience first-hand what it is like to be a civil engineer”.
 
Nigel Loraine, Balfour Beatty Project Manager, said: “We are dedicated to engaging with the local community and inspiring the next generation. ’Bridges to Schools’ is a brilliant example of the positive activity that we can undertake to promote the benefits of careers in civil engineering and the positive impact the profession has on society. The team at Balfour Beatty would like to congratulate all students who rose to the challenge.”