Queen Ethelburga’s Celebrates Student Success in National Civil Engineering Competition

North Yorkshire Independent School Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate (QE) is celebrating after taking 2nd prize in the first ever Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) David Butler Award. Students Tamara L, Sophie C and Ella R took 2nd place with their project on Martin House Hospice, a charity Ella has worked with as part of the QE Hockey team.  The team proposed a new local activity centre which would work in close proximity with the hospice. The team took silver prize which included £1000 split between the team members, an NCE (New Civil Engineer magazine) subscription and lunch with the President at One Great George Street (ICE headquarters, Westminster, London). 

Five groups of students across both of QE’s Senior Schools, The College and The Faculty, took part in the inaugural competition as part of the Collegiate’s commitment to promoting a strong STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) ethos amongst its students. Within the prize winning team, Sophie and Tamara are both academic scholars at QE and Ella is a Team QE Performance Pathway Student. Their win has offered a unique opportunity to promote the future of women in STEM and has acted as an inspirational platform for students across QE. 

Dan Machin, Acting Principal for QE, said “This is fantastic news and we are delighted at the success of our students, in this new and innovative competition promoting a career in civil engineering. As well as the importance of instilling a broad spectrum of learning across the STEM subjects, activities such as this provide important opportunities to employ critical thinking skills, develop resilience and demonstrate leadership and entrepreneurial thinking. Well done to everyone taking part.” 

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 used 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. 

CityZen was played over a period of four weeks, and each week presented a different Civil Engineering challenge. Teams competed against each other for the highest score and learnt more about what Civil Engineers do at the same time. The scenarios were bridge building, park renovation, sustainable housing and crisis management, with a score board kept to encourage competition between the groups.  As the teams discovered more about the role of Civil Engineers in society, they had to apply their knowledge to the local area and suggest a project that would help improve people’s lives. The teams had to present their projects as a video of 2-3 minutes and uploaded this online to be judged by the team at ICE. 

The prize-winning team chose a project to work alongside Martin House, as a former House Charity at QE and one which was close to the heart of the students. Martin House provides family-led care for children and young people with life-limiting conditions. They support families from across West, North and East Yorkshire, both in the hospice and in the community. 

Steena Nasapen-Watson, Regional Director for Institution of Civil Engineers Yorkshire and Humber said “Ella, Tamara and Sophie enthused so much passion into this project, by picking an incredible project that served the community. Their professionalism in addressing the needs of the stakeholders was remarkable. The style of the report with the interviews was a very original idea which is very close to real life examples.  

I was particularly impressed with the research, awareness of building regulations and also local considerations to their project site such as the use of a brownfield site in a flood risk area. The team has showed not only creativity but a great understanding of real-life challenges and engineering applications. Well done and we’re incredibly proud of hopefully welcoming these future engineers to the Yorkshire and Humber region in a few years!” 

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 careers@ice.org.uk