WANTING to be 'cool' may not seem the likeliest reason for choosing a civil engineering career, but an advertising campaign launched by the ICE as part of National Construction week is hoping to give the profession a hip and trendy image.
Some 250 school children poured through the doors of Great George St last week to join in the ICE's School Challenge - two days of civil engineering discovery. As well as taking part in lectures, competitions and experiments, the 13-14 year olds were introduced to the ICE's new advertising campaign designed to make civil engineering appear 'cool' to school children.
Cartoon characters Virgil, Nat, Hugo, Stephie, Gina, Chad and Cool made their debut appearance as the ICE gang with the slogans 'I'm ICE cool', 'chill out at www.ice.org.uk' and 'make your mark'! The cynical may suggest that the Bart Simpson-esque/SpICE girl character approach is cringe-making. However, the gang proved to be undeniably popular.
The leader of the gang is Cool whose shades, spikey hair and 'Yo' T- shirt seemed to win him the popularity contest. Apparently the kids were disappointed that not all the characters had 'Yo' on their T-shirts. The least popular character proved to be Hugo who's specs and square haircut meant that kids tried to swap their Hugo stickers for Cool ones.
Children attending enthused about their day. 'It's been really good fun,' said 13 year old Nafeesa Ali from Walthamstow School for girls. 'It's put a whole new side to civil engineering.' So had it made Nafeesa consider becoming a civil engineer? 'Well, I would think about it but I've always wanted to be a brain surgeon,' she said.
Nafeesa's teacher, Katya Brunas also enthused about the day. 'The activities give them the freedom to be creative and work together which they don't often get at school,' she said. 'This is the fourth year we've come here and I think it's very worthwhile.' 'I didn't think civil engineers built anything other than bridges. I don't really know what I thought they did before today,' said 14 year old Sarah Keynes from Woodcote High School.
The ICE cool gang merchandise, which includes leaflets, stickers, badges, T-shirts and posters, will be sent to schools and will be available to members who want to give presentations in schools.