Four A-Level students from St John’s Marlborough school have triumphed in a national competition organised by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), after completing a challenging digital game and pitching their ideas for local affordable eco-homes in a video presentation.
Year 12 students Oliver Markham, Timon Piercy, Jack Ross and Rex Vickerman beat nearly 100 teams to win first prize at the inaugural ICE David Butler Award announced during an online ceremony on Monday 7 February, hosted by Ortis Deley, presenter of The Gadget Show and ICE President Ed McCann.
Jack Ross, a member of the winning team said,“It’s such a huge honour to have been awarded first prize; we are all passionate about engineering and the opportunity to work with our ICE mentor allowed us to bring our own ideas and plans to life – this was a real privilege. We learned a lot about the design and planning processes within Civil engineering and worked with key members of our local community, which inspired us to create a project that would work towards meeting existing needs. I feel that this process has cemented the fact that a career in Engineering is definitely where my future lies, and I am now in a position to gain a valuable insight into Civil Engineering.”
The success of the St John’s team means the school will soon receive a flood simulation wave tank, donated by the JBA Trust, that can be used for years to come to educate students about the science behind coastal flooding and how civil engineers help reduce flood risk to communities.
Clive Stell, Head of the St John’s Design & Technology Faculty explained,“This has been a fantastic experience for our students. Before taking part in the competition the students were developing their engineering skills, and to be able to test these skills in a national competition has opened their eyes to range of possibilities that a career in engineering can offer. It was a pleasure to watch the students build into an efficient team and observe how they approached the various aspects of the challenge. They had a focused and determined approach to the competition and to have this rewarded by a win in a major national competition is a great reward for their efforts. Thank you to ICE and the David Butler Award for giving our students such a valuable experience.”
The ICE David Butler Award is aimed at encouraging more young people to apply for civil engineering at university or through apprenticeships. The first stage of the award sees 16-18 year-olds from across the UK play CityZen, an innovative civil engineering game created by digital developers, Make Real. Successful teams then use what they learned in the game to submit a video project with a proposal for improvements civil engineers could make in their local area. The competition took place in the first half of the 2021 autumn term.
Ian Tucker, Principal at St John’s Marlborough, commented,“Congratulations to Jack, Oliver, Rex and Timon who have worked so hard, and are deserving winners of this prestigious award. They are a great example of the smart and thoughtful young people who are students at St John’s Marlborough. St John’s has a strong focus on sustainability, and it is heartening that the team won the award with a project focused on tackling the shortage of local affordable housing using brownfield sites and reusing materials. I’m so proud of their achievement, and we are really looking forward to benefiting from the school prize of a wave machine. This will be a great addition to our resources, for both students and teachers.”
The St John’s team carried out research with key figures of the local community such as the Mayor of Marlborough, local construction firms and members of the local authority, before coming up with a plan to address the need for more affordable and sustainable housing for younger people finding it difficult to get onto the property ladder. They designed a variety of different shaped, container-style housing, complete with renewable energy sources. They identified a suitable site on the edge of Marlborough for the small, affordable and eco-friendly homes and explained how the development could be connected by public transport links to the town and further afield.
Miranda Housden, Regional Director, ICE South West said,“Jack, Oliver, Rex and Timon are worthy winners and should be very proud of what they have achieved. I hope they take forward their passion for problem solving and sustainability to become the civil engineers of the future. They have shown that civil engineering is about addressing the big challenges facing communities such as housing and climate change. We’ll be running the competition again next year. I’d encourage more schools to participate and help us find the innovative thinkers and creative minds we need in civil engineering.”
The ICE David Butler Award is named after an ICE Fellow who actively supported the institution’s educational programmes over many years, with a particular interest in supporting opportunities for young engineers.
The CityZen game was created to provide a virtual alternative to a work experience placement where players work together in teams to mirror the way professional civil engineers collaborate and problem-solve. A link with industry and deeper insight was given to each team by a civil engineer mentor – trained as part of the ICE STEM Ambassador programme – who worked with the students remotely to support and advise them.
Students and schools interested in taking part in the 2022 ICE David Butler Award can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.