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ICE calls on members to support students in civil engineering competition

12 June 2023

Mentors are needed to guide teams in the 2023 ICE CityZen Award for UK students aged 16-18.

ICE calls on members to support students in civil engineering competition
ICE President Keith Howells with the winners of the 2022 CityZen Award at ICE HQ, One Great George Street.

The ICE has called on members and STEM ambassadors to step forward as mentors for the 2023 ICE CityZen Award.

The competition, now in its third year, celebrates the creative and problem-solving abilities of young people aged 16-18 by encouraging them to tackle real-world challenges in a digital game and video project.

Members will need to be registered as STEM ambassadors to sign up as Cityzen mentors. 

Pairing aspiring engineers with ICE members as mentors enhances students’ understanding of civil engineering and gives them an insight into what a career, or further study, in this sector looks like.

It also enables mentors to grow their own skills and expand their professional network.

Plus, by engaging with young individuals from underrepresented groups, mentors can help pave the way for a more diverse and inclusive civil engineering industry.

What do ICE CityZen mentors need to do?

Mentors will need to be able to commit to supporting students for a minimum of four hours in the 2023 autumn term.

Arrangements for mentoring are flexible and can be carried out online or in-person if the mentor’s chosen school or college is local.

The ICE provides an information pack and ongoing support to make mentoring in the award straightforward and enjoyable.

Existing ICE STEM ambassadors can register today to become a mentor.

Sign up to be an ICE CityZen mentor

How to register as an ICE STEM ambassador

All UK-based ICE members – from students to fellows – are encouraged to become ICE CityZen mentors to help make this year’s competition a success.

If you haven’t yet registered as an ICE STEM ambassador, there’s time to do it before the competition.

It’s free to register through the STEM Learning organisation, who also provide guidance for engaging with young people.

Sign up as an ICE STEM ambassador today

STEM ambassadors play a crucial role

Contact with a STEM ambassador has been shown to be an effective way to engage students with STEM.

The professional experience of the ICE’s civil engineers provides deeper insight into the complex decisions involved in planning infrastructure, which are recreated in the CityZen game.

STEM ambassador activities also count as initial professional development (IPD) or continued professional development (CPD).

ICE STEM ambassador Mhairi Porteous, who mentored the winning team of the 2022 CityZen Award, said: “I thoroughly enjoyed supporting the pupils through the competition and giving them an insight into the industry.

“It was extremely encouraging to witness the pupil’s enthusiasm towards the ICE digital game and exploring their innovative ideas, which I hope they will bring to the industry in the future as practicing engineers.”

Impact of the award last year

Over 1,200 students took part in the 2022 ICE CityZen Award from 140 schools and colleges across the UK.

The competition has been shown to change student attitudes to the career.

In the award’s first year, a third of the participants were interested in a civil engineering career at the start, but by the time the competition had finished, this had increased to 79%.

Students taking part in the 2022 award gave positive feedback in the evaluations:

“Thank you for the competition! It has been a lot of fun and I have learnt a lot about engineering.”

“I enjoyed working collaboratively as a team to research, think of ideas and design the project. Also making the video and talking to the bursar about potential sites. I also loved how the project came together.”

Teacher’s comments echoed those of the students in the evaluations and particularly praised the input of ICE STEM ambassador mentors.

Lynsey Robinson, chemistry and physics teacher at Hillhead High School in Glasgow, said: “Mhairi Porteous from Fairhurst was a great source of inspiration and support.

“She engaged our pupils by coming to the school to meet with them and chat about her education, career and day-to-day life as a civil engineer.”

“As a female engineer, Mhairi was an excellent role model and was able to inspire pupils, particularly girls who are keen to study physics and engineering further.”

Get involved

  • Become or renew your STEM ambassador registration.
  • If you're a current ICE STEM ambassador, register to be an ICE CityZen mentor.
  • Read more about how ICE STEM Ambassadors have been inspiring tomorrow’s engineers over the last year.
  • Fatima Uddin, membership marketing executive at Institution of Civil Engineers