Engineering Education Scheme project completed
The Engineering Education Scheme is an Engineering Development Trust initiative, run nationally, that links teams of year 12 students with local industry and gives them the opportunity to work on real engineering challenges, and a chance to experience working in a university’s engineering laboratories during the holidays.
Last October four members of the lower sixth: Elliot Gilford, Tomos Jones, Daniel Phillips and Michael Copley-May embarked on an engineering challenge sponsored by Herefordshire Council in partnership with SUSTRANS, an organisation who are trying to improve sustainable transport provision across the country. Their involvement was facilitated by Dr. Rhodes in the HCS Physics Department and the project ran up until the end of April.
Their brief was to find a way of getting cyclists and pedestrians across the River Wye in an effort to connect Hereford and Rotherwas with a new cycle path.
The project involved a field survey, a week’s residential workshop at Birmingham University in the Christmas, weekly meetings with Mr. Clive Hall, Highways Network Manager at Herefordshire Council. At the end of the project, the team had to write a detailed report (submitted to an expert panel of ‘judges’ from various engineering industries), give a short presentation to the larger steering group and, finally, give a 25 minute presentation to the judges at the celebration day at Cranmore Park, Birmingham. As well as delivering their presentation, the team also set up a display of the work they had in a hall with 60 other schools represented from the West Midlands. Members of the public, press, and interested parties from business and industry came to look at the displays and ask questions in the afternoon. At the end of a very busy – and stressful – day, the team were given very positive feedback on their presentation and were awarded certificates acknowledging their participation in this challenging project.
The team’s innovative design involved an interesting way of using an existing bridge, used only by the sewage works, a mile or so downstream from the Victoria Bridge. The idea of using that bridge was not their own, in fact, but already formed part of a plan originally submitted by the Council/SUSTRANS group. This group’s original idea involved building substantial earthworks to allow cyclists access to the top of this bridge from the riverside path. However there are several problems inherent in this plan. The first is that cycle paths, in general, are allowed a maximum gradient and mustn’t be too steep. To get cyclists to the top of the 5 metre-high bridge, about 100 metres length of ramp would have to be built. Secondly, the sewage works that the bridge runs to is not the prettiest of sights and there are security issues with the public and maintenance traffic using the same roadway on top of the bridge. Our team’s clever solution was to design an arched pathway that ‘bolted on’ to the side of the existing bridge joining the two riverside paths by a gently curved structure that allows river traffic sufficient headroom, but is not as high (at its apex) as the existing bridge-top road. Their design also meant that the sewage works would be ‘invisible’ and the public would not be forced to use the same road as sewage works maintenance vehicles.
So what will become of the team’s bridge design? Well, the formal project is still in its early stages and will continue to run until the route is completed over the next few years, but it is fair to say that many members of the larger steering group were very interested in our students’ “imaginative” and “practical” solution to this difficult problem and it has been hinted that it may well have an influence in the decisions made towards the final solution.