Bridging A Gap In Pupils' Experience

15 August 2013

Welsh primary school children were given an early insight into the attractions of an engineering career when Costain supported the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Bridge to Schools programme.

Youngsters at Bryn Coch School, Mold, had the chance to create their very own bridge as part of a long-running campaign by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and the ICE.

The ICE owns several ‘build your own bridge’ kits, which are transported to schools around the country.

The aim is to arouse interest in construction and engineering at an early age.

The bridge exercise dovetails neatly with the Costain Cares strategy, which is about developing skills for the future, inspiring young people to think about a career in engineering and obtaining the necessary Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills to do so.

The bridge gives the pupils a chance for hands-on experience in building something. The sight of such a large structure turning up in the school is outside their daily experience and generates considerable excitement.

Costain Project Manager, Joe Rice-Jones, volunteers for a couple of days a year to help show pupils the ropes – or more accurately the nuts and bolts – when it comes to erecting the structure.

“The bridge is quite big, around 25 feet long,” said Joe. “It comes in the back of a large trailer and consists of a couple of metal A-frames, while most of the rest of the structure is wood.”

The pupils – who have been primed for the visit with fact packs explaining what the day will involve – are split up into groups handling different tasks in putting the bridge together, overseen by volunteers like Joe (an ICE member) and his colleagues.

None of the children are likely to have been involved in anything like putting together a large structure before. Being decked out in fluorescent safety kit and hard hats adds to the sense of occasion.

“It’s aimed at generating the idea that engineering is for everyone,” explained Joe. “We try to explain that not everyone can play football for Manchester United later in life and that engineering is an interesting and stimulating career.”

“We have many STEM ambassadors across the Group who volunteer their time to go into schools and inspire future budding engineers, as well as promoting other careers Costain has to offer,” said Corporate Responsibility Director, Catherine Warbrick. “As well as promoting the importance of STEM skills for business, we also want to attract the best young talent to Costain.”