LEGO bridge tested to destruction

Pupils from Shenfield High School, Brentwood, including the grandson of an eminent engineer, attended the demolition of a record-breaking LEGO suspension bridge at ICE’S Westminster HQ.

Jacob Franklin, grandson of geotechnical engineer John Mitchell, and his fellow Year 7 and 8 pupils were taking part in an afternoon of educational presentations and activities, culminating in a 'failure test' of the 30-metre-long, three-metre-tall LEGO bridge. A track was added across the length of the bridge to allow a train to run across, with the weight increasing incrementally until the bridge collapsed.

Formerly the centrepiece of the ICE Bridge Engineering exhibition, which finished on 21 April, the LEGO bridge spanned almost the equivalent of three London Routemaster buses parked end to end. It weighed three-quarters of a ton and was made up of more than 200,000 individual plastic bricks.

ICE invited the Shenfield pupils after a request by Jacob's mother, Helen Mitchell. Jacob is an aspiring future engineer and the grandson of the late John Mitchell, who is commemorated by the ICE's annual John Mitchell Medal award for geotechnical engineering.

After attending this year's John Mitchell Medal presentation and seeing the Bridge Engineering exhibition, Jacob was further inspired to follow in his grandfather's footsteps.

Jacob said: "I really enjoyed the day and learning more about how bridges work. I'm glad I got to see the LEGO bridge coming down! It's definitely made me want to become a civil engineer."

Glen Owen ICE East of England Regional Director is delighted the children enjoyed the experience: "There is a shortage of civil engineers so it is important to enthuse the next generation towards this great career choice. I am very pleased they enjoyed their experience at ICE and hope we may welcome them as members in the future."

The LEGO bridge now makes way for a new exhibition, Tunnel Engineering. Supported by Ferrovial Agroman, together with UNPS, Topcon and CEMAR, Tunnel Engineering will open on Monday 15 May at the Institution of Civil Engineers, One Great George Street, Westminster, London, SW1P 3AA. The exhibition will run Mondays to Fridays, 10am to 5pm, until mid-November 2017