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ICE South West Pitch 200 winner explains ground fill using onions and rice

13 July 2020

A Bath-based engineer has won the ICE South West Pitch 200 competition to explain a civil engineering principle in just 200 seconds using things found at home.

ICE South West Pitch 200 winner explains ground fill using onions and rice
Kathleen Hartono

Kathleen Hartono, a geotechnical graduate engineer with Buro Happold in Bath, has won the ICE South West Pitch 200 contest with a video on ground fill conditions, using onions and rice to represent different soil types.

Pitch 200 usually sees ICE members present a civil engineering-related idea to a live audience, but this year the competition moved online due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Kathleen, who is from Indonesia, used props around the house to make a video explaining the importance of using well-graded material as ground fill in construction and engineering works.

Her video attracted the most votes from members of the public to win the South West regional heat. She now goes on to compete in the national final this autumn against civil engineers from across the UK.

Watch Kathleen's winning entry below!

Kathleen said: “I entered ICE South West Pitch 200 to share my geotechnical knowledge and demonstrate a ground engineering theory in a fun and simple way. I used the resources I had at home, so everyone could understand the principle. Most projects require ‘cut and fill’ or ground improvement. As such, I was able to show the benefits of a mixed size fill (onions and rice) to maximise compaction or minimise movements. I glad my video has received such positive feedback.”

Ten civil engineers from across the South West entered Pitch 200, with videos covering a wide range of topics including an overview of highways asset management using toilet paper; the basics of coastal flood defences with pasta and lentils; and the principles of modular construction explained through baking and chocolate biscuits.

Miranda Housden, ICE South West regional director, said:

"The Pitch 200 videos have really captured people’s imaginative and we’re delighted that so many people have watched them and cast a vote. Kathleen’s video really shows her passion for ground engineering and highlights the creativity of civil engineers in communicating complex ideas in an accessible way.”

Pitch 200 was first launched in 2018 to mark the 200th anniversary of the Institution, the oldest professional engineering association in the world. The aim is to promote civil engineering as an exciting industry that transforms lives and positively impacts local communities.

Ann Metherall, ICE Fellow and Partner at Burges Salmon LLP, sponsors of Pitch 200, said:

“It’s no mean feat to communicate an engineering concept in 200 seconds using only what you have at home, but I’ve been surprised at the imaginative methods that competitors have used to get their point across. I’d like to thank them all for sharing their passion for civil engineering, helping to inspire the next generation and the general public about the profession.”

  • Lidia Pearce, communications lead at ICE South West