ICE Northern Ireland shows pupils the fun of civil engineering

The conclusion of ICE’s Build a Bridge programme saw hundreds of primary school pupils gather for a day of bridge-building and other STEM activities.

Sentinus board member Tanya Hedley, ICE Northern Ireland Chairman Dr Alan Skates, and Sentinus Chair Jim Stewart CBE pose with pupils and their bridge project.
Sentinus board member Tanya Hedley, ICE Northern Ireland Chairman Dr Alan Skates, and Sentinus Chair Jim Stewart CBE pose with pupils and their bridge project.

On 22 April, ICE co-hosted a Celebration Day at Lagan College marking the conclusion of the 2016 Build a Bridge programme. The day, which attracted 34 schools and nearly 700 primary school pupils, included activities such as ICE's cable-stayed bridge construction and other STEM-themed workshops.

Build a Bridge reached pupils across Northern Ireland – the map shows the schools that participated in the programme.
Build a Bridge reached pupils across Northern Ireland – the map shows the schools that participated in the programme.

Using techniques learned from their Ambassador, each class independently replicated a Northern Ireland bridge to display at the Celebration Day. Though 490 pupils in total took part in the Build a Bridge programme, each class sent a small delegation to present their final project. See photos from Celebration Day, including activities and pupils' projects.

"We cannot speak highly enough of the celebration," said Ann Fallows, a teacher from Strabane Controlled Primary School. "The opportunity of seeing the work of others has inspired our pupils to reach higher. It was an eye-opener for everyone — we know we have budding engineers in our midst now."

Emma Boyes, one of the Build a Bridge ambassadors, also volunteered to supervise pupils building ICE's 12 metre long cable-stayed bridge during the Celebration Day. Emma said the students' ability to work in teams, as well as the opportunity to test their work by walking across the bridge, gave them a terrific sense of achievement.

"I don't get opportunities in my everyday job to work with children – it was great to see their excitement from the moment they placed the hard hats on their heads," Emma said.

"I would encourage other ICE members to volunteer for Build a Bridge or similar activities," she added. "Not only does it give the students a different experience, it gives you as an ambassador satisfaction and encouragement that you made a positive impact on the student's interest in engineering."

The 2016 Build a Bridge Ambassadors are:

  • Patrick Craig, AECOM
  • Joanne McGurk, AECOM
  • Emma Boyes, AECOM
  • Kerri Dorman, AECOM
  • Kristian McGurran, Ulster University
  • Khin Khin Han, Queen's University Belfast
  • Mark Ferguson, Department of Finance and Personnel
  • Ann Idowu, Queen's University Belfast
  • Jason Wylie, McLaughlin & Harvey
  • Claire McGeown, Department of Regional Development
  • Monica Steele, Amey
  • Chanelle McCook, Ulster University
  • Daryl McCauley, North West Regional College
  • Priya Premial, Queen's University Belfast
  • Matthew Donnelly, Atkins
  • Pádraig Graham, Amey
  • Conor McGirr, Fox Contracts
  • David Thompson, Atkins
  • Amy Black, Jacobs
  • Matthew Holmes, Mouchel
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