Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Enter NCE's Historic Disasters Challenge

Disaster reporting has always been a mainstay of NCE’s coverage. Now we want to see if you have what it takes to write about disasters.

Throughout history engineers have defied expectations over and over again. Buildings soar higher, bridges span further, and each successive generation gasps at how audacity is rewarded with success. But every so often, something goes wrong – sometimes terribly wrong.

What caused the dam to breach that stormy day in Dolgarrog? What made the Tay bridge fall down under the weight of a passenger train? Sometimes there's as much to learn by looking at what didn't work as there is by looking at what did.

That's why NCE and Engineering Timelines have launched a new writing competition to find out what you think about the great engineering disasters and what caused them. Here's what to do:

1. Choose an engineering disaster based in the UK

2. Research the story. Who designed it? Why was it built that way? And crucially, what went wrong?

3. Write a lively, interesting story – no longer than 500 words – explaining what you think is most important. What lessons can be learned from it? How did it affect the course of engineering history? We're hoping to discover some fresh engineering writing talent. Not only will the winner receive a £250 prize, they will also see their work published on the Engineering Timelines site and in NCE


The challenge
To write up to 500 words on an engineering disaster of your choice. Remember, any project you cover should be based in the UK.

The prize
£250 for the winner, plus your work published in NCE and on Up to five £50 runner-up prizes.

The deadline
All entries must be with us by Monday 12 November. Winners will be announced in a December issue of NCE.

How to enter
Email your work to us at including your name, job title (if applicable), email address, address and contact telephone number.


Engineering Timelines produces an interactive website that offers users a dynamic perspective on engineering in the UK. The site clusters information around a range of themes: a period in history, a type of structure or a notable engineer. Users click hyperlinked dots on a map to move through to descriptions of engineering heritage sites accompanied by photographs and illustrations.

This is a resource suitable for students, engineering enthusiasts, and anyone who cares about engineering. Visit to find out more!

Top tips
- Visit to get a feel for the right style to use
- Tell a story: spark the reader's imagination
- Avoid jargon: you're writing for a non-technical audience
- Think about details: dates, locations, people
- Think about the who, what, when, where and why
- Be descriptive, be interesting, but be concise
- Get the facts right: check them
- Write in a journalistic, not academic or scholarly style
- Don't exceed the 500-word limit

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.