LONDON'S CITY University found a novel way of inspiring its fi st-year civil engineering undergraduates by taking them on a boat trip along the Thames.
But this was no booze cruise.
Accompanied by four industry experts with first-hand design and construction experience of structures along the river, 100 students were last month talked through the design and construction of the engineering landmarks flanking the river.
'We wanted to give students an introduction to civil engineering, and being in London we thought we could see so much more of it from the river, ' said City University research fellow Andy McNamara. 'It's also a good way of getting students to talk to each other.' Creating a stronger support network among students will also help to improve attendance in the first year of the course, said City University civil engineering studies director Cedric D'Mello.
'Final year results are closely related to attendance. If we can inspire students in the early stages, we'll get better results in the long run, ' he said.
The aim of the visit was to create enthusiasm for the subject and the profession by showing students the practical application for theories and equations soon to be explained in lectures.
McNamara organised the day-long event, which started off with a visit to the ICE's headquarters for an introduction to membership and services.
Students were accompanied by engineers, researchers and lecturers. Engineering tour guides included Alan Baxter & Associates historic structures expert John Mason, Arup associate Michael Summers, Royal Haskoning associate David Lind and Buro Happold principal consultant Glyn Trippick.
The boat trip took in the 'wobbly' Millennium Bridge, Tate Modern, the Houses of Parliament, London Eye, Millennium Dome and Thames Barrier.
Mason also pointed out less obvious feats of engineering, such as Joseph Bazalgette's 1860s sewer, which transformed Londoners' health and is now concealed within the Victoria embankment.
He explained the mixed heritage of some of the bridges on the Thames, including the brick pier remains of Brunel's original suspension bridge, now incorporated into Hungerford bridge.
Trippick was part of the original team that worked on the Millennium Dome and explained the innovative techniques employed in its construction, as well as the further challenges involved in constructing a 22,000 seater arena within it.