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Students take up a construction challenge with a difference

By Philippa Siguencia Winnings

Teams of students from across London have been busy finding out what is the challenge of constructing a new railway - as part of the Young Crossrail education programme.

The students all go to schools along the Crossrail route and were asked to plan the building of a new (hypothetical) railway from London to Cambridge - one of the most overcrowded routes on Britain's rail network. They took part in an innovative five workshop series called 'Vision to Reality', designed to engage young people in real work construction challenges and encourage creative thinking within their National Curriculum studies.

And at a special event at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers on 16 May, they presented their construction strategies to industry experts.

The programme was organised by Cross London Rail Links (CLRL) and was supported by ConstructionSkills, the Sector Skills Council for the construction industry, The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, The East London Line Project and London's Transport Museum.

Thirty six 'Young, Gifted & Talented' students from along the proposed Crossrail route from Maidenhead and Heathrow to Shenfield and Abbey Wood, took part in the programme.

Young, Gifted & Talented (YG&T) is a Government-backed initiative designed to stretch and stimulate the brightest and most talented young learners in the country, and in particular, under-achieving and disadvantaged students.

In the workshops the students discussed station design, environmental impacts, cost planning, the programme of construction and community relations, led by industry professionals from Crossrail, TfL, and BAA. The students also visited relevant worksites.

Ian Rathbone, manager of Crossrail's education programme, comments: 'By working closely with a wide range of industry experts this programme has provided students with a fascinating insight into the complexities and challenges of planning a construction project. '

Geraldine Craig, ConstructionSkills Recruitment and Careers Advisor for Greater London said: 'This series of workshops has been a huge success in giving students hands-on experience of real life work scenarios. There is such a wide choice of careers on offer in the professional side of the construction industry, such as architects, surveyors and engineers, that people don't really tend to think of when they think of construction. We want to encourage more people to join this interesting and vital section of the industry.'

Four of the workshops took place at London South Bank University and following the presentation event the University will also be providing a short course about professional careers in Construction and Engineering for those students interested in finding out more about the sector.

John Hampson, the University's Business Development Manager for Construction, said: 'It has been a pleasure working with these well behaved students. Crossrail has shown a real commitment to helping with an understanding of the issues involved in a complex transport project. It is essential that we inspire these young people who are the future of engineering and construction.'

For more information about careers in the construction industry please visit

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