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Calling latter-day Brunels

Next year marks the 200th anniversary of Isambard Kingdom Brunel's birth. NCE will support and drive two unique events to celebrate the great man's life.

NCE has joined forces with the University of Bristol to re-run the famous 1831 bridge design competition which gave us the now iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge.

The Clifton Crossing 2006 competition was launched at Civils 2005 this week and will kick off formally on 18 January 2006 with the question 'How would you bridge the gap-'.

The competition will be based on the original 1831 brief updated to suit modern conditions. Submissions will be in the form of a single electronic A1 poster, with brief accompanying text posted to a dedicated competition website.

Information on the posters will be targeted at the general public and should explain the design solution, and most importantly the process by which the solution was developed. Competitors - either individuals or teams - will have to think carefully about how their single sheet will convince a panel of expert and lay judges that their design is the best.

There will be separate categories for practicing engineers, undergraduate students and schoolchildren.

Closing date for entries will be Brunel's birthday, 9 April.

A shortlist of about six entries will be given funds to work up their design with more detail and to prepare an interactive presentation, which will run in the innovative forum area in the @Bristol Science Learning Centre during June 2006.

The prize winners will be announced as part of a gala dinner of the Brunel Bicentenery Conference to be held in the Empire & Commonwealth Museum at Brunel's original Bristol Temple Meads Station on 6 and 7 July (see box).

Brunel's classic design for the Clifton bridge was his response to an open competition among the leading engineers of the 1830s; it was a realisation of Brunel's imaginative connection of many far-sighted, innovative and supremely ambitious ideas.

Re-running the competition in 2006 offers the chance for present-day engineers to demonstrate their imaginative capacity and to equal Brunel's innovation.

The competition will feed into a new schools engineering education programme that is being planned in parallell. This will kick off with summer school sessions based around the competition brief and continue with lesson plans utilising the material produced by the competition.

The competition and schools initiative are endorsed by the Royal Academy of Engineering as part of its 'Shape the Future' campaign. It also has the support of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Institution of Structural Engineers and the Young Engineers Club, all of which will provide direct access to young people through their own outreach activities.

The competition is backed by the Brunel 200 initiative as part of the official celebration of Brunel's birthday. Full details of the rules and entry requirements will be available when the competition is formally launched in January. To register your interest in this competition, email melanie@brunel200. com.

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