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Birmingham railway engineering course inspires students

A student challenge run by the Smallpeice Trust is encouraging young people to consider a career in rail. The four-day course was held at the Birmingham Centre for Rail Research and Education, and covered a wide range of rail engineering and rail systems topics.

The event, sponsored by NSARE and the Lloyds Register Foundation (LRF), offered teenagers an opportunity to learn more about signalling, train control and wheel rail adhesion.

The young people competed to design crash-proof vehicles or an automatic train control system, judged by The Gadget Show presenter Jon Bentley. The RAIB was also on hand to give safety advice.

Dr Andrew Cave, chief executive of The Smallpeice Trust called the course “a great success”. He said: “The University of Birmingham devised two exceptionally challenging design and make projects for the students to work on which saw all teams working hard to produce sound results.”

Michael Franklin, LRF grants director said: “Through these hands-on activities, young people gain a real understanding of the challenges facing the industry and how engineers can develop practical solutions. With new network and rolling stock developments planned in the UK, there are vast and exciting opportunities in railway engineering. We want to encourage and inspire young people to take up careers in this fast moving sector.”

Gil Howarth, chief executive of NSARE added: “If the railway engineering industry is to attract the quantity and quality of young people required for the future, it is imperative that we raise awareness of the opportunities within railway engineering.

“As passenger and freight usage of the UK railways continues to increase the systems required to run them safely and efficiently are growing more and more complex but are often unseen by the public. This course gives a great insight into some of the engineering challenges addressed by those working in the industry every day.”

Stephen Kent, teaching fellow at the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Railway Research & Education commented: “It is encouraging that the students keep coming up with innovative solutions to two of the challenges that the railway industry faces.”

It is the third year the residential course has run, and the course timetable for 2014 will be available in the autumn.

(Library image from the 2011 Smallpeice Trust event at the University of Birmingham)

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