Washington youngsters win North East engineering competition

A team from St Robert of Newmister School in Washington has claimed victory at the finals of a prestigious engineering competition, judged by the UK’s leading civil engineer.

Inspire 125 finalists invite Sir John Armitt to test their shelter.
Inspire 125 finalists invite Sir John Armitt to test their shelter.

Six teams made it to the final of the Inspire 125 Competition, an initiative to give year 8 and 9 students in the region's schools an insight into the world of civil engineering, run by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), which is celebrating 125 years since the founding of its North East branch.

Sir John Armitt, the President of the ICE, a professional body that supports 91,000 engineers around the globe and promotes civil engineering as a profession, led the team of judges. Sir John, widely considered to be the greatest civil engineer alive today, was on a tour of the North East, which included a visit to the New Wear Crossing in Sunderland, and a trip to meet apprentices at the Newcastle College Rail Academy.

The six teams of finalists were chosen from 21 entries, representing ten schools. At the final each team constructed a shelter, using limited materials, which was tested by a panel of judges, led by Sir John. The shelters were tested to determine their strength, and to see how waterproof they were.

The winning team was a group of girls from St Robert of Newminster School in Washington, who beat teams from Whitworth Park School in Spennymoor, Gosforth Junior High School, and St Benedicts Roman Catholic Middle School in Ashington.

Sir John Armitt said: "It was fantastic to see young people from across the North East showing an interest in civil engineering. Civil engineers build and maintain the UK's infrastructure, including the North East's transport network. Their work is critical to the country's economic success and quality of life, but we need a skilled and diverse workforce to deliver it.

"I hope some of the young people who have taken part in this competition will consider civil engineering as a career. Contrary to what many people think, you don't have to go to university to get into engineering, I didn't go to university, I went to a college and worked my way up."

ICE North East Graduates and Students Committee Member Amy Wright, who helped to organise the competition said: "We were pleased to see such a high standard of teams from across the region. All of the teams who made it to the final are a credit to their schools, they showed a real aptitude for engineering, and showed great maturity in the way they worked together."