Ashfield School girls enter world of civil engineering

SCHOOLGIRLS from two Ashfield schools learnt more about the world of civil engineering through a series of interactive ‘bridge-building’ activities.

Groups of 14 to 16-year-olds from four secondary schools across Nottinghamshire will each construct a 12.5m-long bridge made out of aluminium, plywood and stainless steel cables, capable of supporting their combined body weight.

They will have just one hour to complete the task, which will test their maths and science knowledge and team-working skills.

The challenges are being run by West Nottinghamshire College in conjunction with the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) through its ‘Bridge to Schools’ initiative and will involve more than 100 pupils in total.

They are being staged to give the pupils an insight into the work of civil engineers – which is traditionally seen as a male-dominated profession – and their contribution to society.

The activities form part of a major project called ‘Women in Engineering’, which was launched by the college earlier this year to change females’ perceptions of the industry and promote the diverse employment opportunities it provides. The college is seeking to engage 450 young people aged between 14 and 18 in engineering workshops and recruit 150 female engineering apprentices by March 2012.

Sandra Cowley, head of employer engagement at West Nottinghamshire College, said: “Working in partnership with Bridge to Schools will enable us to raise the aspirations of more young females and start to change their perceptions about careers in engineering.

“We all have a role to play in inspiring young women – motivating them to seize exciting career opportunities and challenge tradition.”

Schools taking part in the bridge-building activities are Hollygirt School, Nottingham; Quarrydale Foundation School, Sutton-in-Ashfield; Selston Arts and Community College and Shirebrook Academy.