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Students’ plan to regenerate coal power plant wins 2023 ICE CityZen Award

13 March 2024

The competition, designed to inspire young people to follow a civil engineering career path, ran for its third year in 2023.

Students’ plan to regenerate coal power plant wins 2023 ICE CityZen Award
ICE CityZen Award winners, teachers, gold team and STEM Ambassador Alyx Murdock (back centre), silver team and STEM Ambassador Tom Durkin (left), bronze team (right), highly commended team of one (front centre) with ICE President Professor Anusha Shah. Image credit: Tom Hampson/Visual Eye

A proposal to repurpose existing infrastructure to create green energy is the winner of the top prize in the 2023 ICE CityZen Award.

During the competition, students aged 16-18 played the CityZen digital game and submitted a video considering real-world factors such as budget, sustainability, and improving outcomes for people and communities.

Team Reptech, representing Repton School in Derbyshire, highlighted the stagnation of Willington Power Station, which has been inactive for 28 years, and used it as inspiration to restore the brownfield site.

The winning students responded to the urgent threat of climate change by proposing regenerating the old coal power plant into a net zero biogas generator that would repurpose food waste from the local area.

ICE STEM Ambassador Alyx Murdock, lead civil engineer for Jacobs, helped mentor the winning team and aided their victory.

Feeling and thinking like civil engineers

Team Reptech, made up of Louis Cholerton, Jacob Ingleston-Orme, William Morrison and Sebastian Raper, said they were delighted that they’d won the “thoroughly enjoyable” ICE CityZen competition.

“This competition allowed us to feel and think like civil engineers, and to explore in detail this area of engineering,” the team said.

“We are now all seriously exploring civil engineering at university, which in truth is solely due to this wonderful competition.”

The team commented on the digital game side of the competition, which recreates challenges that civil engineers face for students to navigate.

“The game aspect of the competition was great fun. Alongside the teamwork and collaboration needed, it introduced us to new concepts from the world of civil engineering and gave us a real insight into the considerations and decisions we needed to make,” they said.

Team Reptech with ICE President Professor Anusha Shah. From left to right, William Morrison, Louis Cholerton, Professor Shah, Jacob Ingleston-Orme, and Sebastian Raper. Image credit: Tom Hampson/Visual Eye
Team Reptech with ICE President Professor Anusha Shah. From left to right, William Morrison, Louis Cholerton, Professor Shah, Jacob Ingleston-Orme, and Sebastian Raper. Image credit: Tom Hampson/Visual Eye

Students are also asked to submit a video outlining their project proposal.

“Working on the video allowed us to apply what we learnt in the game to a real situation, in our case the Willington power station and the generation of a novel source of renewable energy,” Team Reptech said.

On having support from a STEM Ambassador, the team said:

“Our inspirational mentor Alyx Murdock really helped us through the entire competition, and we would like to thank her and especially ICE for giving us this incredible opportunity to explore the world of civil engineering.”

An eye-opening experience

Reflecting on their CityZen experience, Team Reptech said: “It was thought-provoking, challenging, and great fun from start to finish – and we highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking of civil engineering as a potential degree.

“It really has opened our eyes to the opportunities and rewards this career would bring.”

Preparing for a world where engineering plays a crucial role

Dr Stuart Ingleston-Orme, head of science at Repton School said, “The CityZen competition allowed the Reptech team to explore the hands-on nature of science and engineering...”

“[The team got to] appreciate how real-world STEM is truly multidimensional and not confined by the traditional constraints imposed by exam specifications or programmes of study.

“Enhancing their design, collaboration, and teamwork skills along the way, as well as their approach to critical thinking and evaluation, the competition enabled the students to develop key skills and prepare for a 21st century where the fields of technology, science, manufacturing, and engineering will play an increasingly crucial role.”

Dr Ingleston-Orme highlighted that the winning team is now considering civil engineering as a career.

“The CityZen competition has encouraged Louis, Jacob, Seb and William to take a serious look into civil engineering as a degree choice,” he said.

“It gave genuine insight into the roles of a civil engineer, and the issues and wider considerations that need to be made as part of their job.

“The students got far more from the competition than I had ever imagined, and winning the Gold Award has very much been the icing on the cake!”

ICE CityZen Award – winning teams

Gold Award

Louis Cholerton, Jacob Ingleston-Orme, William Morrison and Sebastian Raper from Repton School were team Reptech, who secured the top prize.

Silver Award

Team Canon Slayer, Juan Latham, Miles Harrison, Joe Wilkes and Wesley Noble, from Canon Slade Sixth Form, will be taking home the Silver Award.

Their plan was to revitalise Piccadilly Gardens Manchester and its surrounding area to discourage anti-social behaviour and improve drainage, lighting, and biodiversity.

ICE graduate member and STEM Ambassador Tom Durkin, civil engineer in the railways team at Mott MacDonald, mentored the second place team and helped inspire their project.

Bronze Award

The Bronze Award goes to team YinYang, Thomas Zilliox, Finn Regan, Thomas Cross and Samuel Tweddle from St George’s School.

Their plan was to prevent sewage pollution to the River Lea and provide eco-friendly public transport in their hometown of Harpenden in Hertfordshire.

Highly commended

The team of one that deserves an honourable mention is Women in STEM Lara McDonald from Lymm High School.

Her video project on bioremediation of a contaminated brownfield site, with the aim of sustainably creating land for a carbon reductive residential development, impressed the judges.

Passion, creativity and determination

Séan Harris, ICE’s deputy director general and director of membership said, "The CityZen Award judges and I were hugely impressed by the passion, creativity, and determination from this year's entrants.”

“Their imaginative solutions tackle pressing urban challenges and embody the innovative and collaborative ideals that define civil engineering. It's clear they want a future that is more sustainable and resilient and their ideas give me hope.”

“Congratulations to the winners and every student who participated."

Winners to celebrate with ICE president

Success was hard-earned in the third year of the competition, with participation from over 140 schools and an impressive turnout of approximately 1,500 students.

Award winners will receive cash prizes split between students and their schools.

They have attended a winners' lunch with ICE President Professor Anusha Shah and Clare Mulley, daughter of late ICE member David Bulter who helped fund the award, at ICE HQ, One Great George Street.

The Gold Award-winning team has also secured great prizes for their school from CityZen Award partners:

  • an interactive learning session provided by the JBA Trust; and
  • a communications workshop called 'For Love or Money' for 100 students from Loud Speaker, who advised students on creating great video projects during the competition.

ICE CityZen Award winners lunch with ICE President, STEM Ambassadors Alyx Murdock, Tom Durkin, CityZen game sponsor David Butler’s daughter Clare Mulley and ICE staff. Image credit: Tom Hampson/Visual Eye
ICE CityZen Award winners lunch with ICE President, STEM Ambassadors Alyx Murdock, Tom Durkin, CityZen game sponsor David Butler’s daughter Clare Mulley and ICE staff. Image credit: Tom Hampson/Visual Eye

Recognising the achievement of the top-scoring teams

The ICE congratulates all 367 teams for taking part in the digital game, especially those who achieved the highest game scores.

As a reward for their outstanding performance, the top three teams will receive Waterstones voucher prizes.

  • First place goes to team Sammmmm at Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh
  • Second place goes to team Civil L3 Y1 C at Newcastle College
  • Third place goes to team The Hullifiers at Queen Ethelburga's Collegiate in York

The ICE thanks the CityZen Award judges, ICE members Kate McStrafick, Lianne Darbinson, Lizzie Rees, Rebecca Wade and director of the JBA Trust, Rob Lamb.

The institution also extends its gratitude to the ICE STEM Ambassadors who mentored school teams throughout the competition and ICE members who assisted with the early rounds of competition judging.

About the ICE CityZen Award

The ICE CityZen Award aims to encourage more young people to apply for civil engineering at university or apprenticeship level.

An essential part of the award activities, the CityZen game was created by ICE members and digital developers Make Real Ltd to mirror the way professional civil engineers work in teams, collaborate and problem-solve.

Teams also had a civil engineer mentor to get a deeper insight into the industry.

The game is now a multi-award winner, having won the Gold Award for Best Learning Game at the 2023 Learning Technologies Awards and the Secondary Free Digital Content App or Open Educational Resource category in the 2024 Bett Awards.

Judges for both awards picked up on the impact of the competition which was evidenced by glowing student recommendations.

Impact on the engineering talent pipeline

The success of the competition is showing in the engineering pipeline now too.

Research conducted by UCAS into the award’s effectiveness has found that young people who have taken part in the competition are “both significantly more likely to apply to and be accepted onto engineering and related courses, especially civil engineering courses”.

The award is open to students aged 16-18 attending a UK school or college.

The ICE CityZen Award was made possible by the generosity of the family of late ICE Fellow David Butler who was dedicated to inspiring the next generation of civil engineers.

Take part

Registration for the 2024 CityZen Award will open in the spring. Find out how to take part.

ICE members are invited to support the competition as ICE STEM Ambassadors.

  • Fatima Uddin, membership marketing executive at Institution of Civil Engineers