A STRONG team bond and powerful imagery saw Arup Newcastle snatch first place in the NCE Communication Competition final, held in Canterbury last week.
In a charged atmosphere Arup's Douglas Morrison, Rachel Evans, Colin Robinson, Karl Hurwood and Richard Eakin (top left) overcame the filibustering of more than 50 municipal engineers to beat teams from MWH Warrington and East Sussex County Council, scooping the £500 top prize.
The teams had to present plans for creation of a 'home zone' in a mixed-race, inner city area. Their rowdy audience was made up of delegates at the Association of Municipal Engineers annual conference.
All three teams gave presentations that could have put their vastly more experienced audience to shame, but the judges decided that the Arup team's use of vivid imagery had done the most to engage the public.
During their presentation the Arup team showed pictures drawn by children from the proposed home zone area, representing a neighbourhood disfigured by crime and delapidation.
The shocking drawings featured people run over by cars, a stabbing, robbery, burning vehicles, and graffitti.
They also drew on newspaper cuttings detailing a catalogue of traffic-related death and injury.
The judges felt that the graphic imagery delivered a powerful message, and that Karl Hurwood, acting as a non-engineer and resident in a successful home zone scheme in a nearby town, gave the presentation added realism.
But despite Arup's victory, the judges felt that many of the best ideas came from the MWH team of Charles Puckle, Jane Peebles, John Devine, Lucy Freese and Eoghan O'Shea.
MWH did most to present the wider social implications of the home zone, including job creation and enhanced community spirit. The team also featured another 'born and bred' local - Eoghan O'Shea - to add credibility.
Aggressive handling of audience questions and a complete breakdown of team order cost them the title.
In contrast, the team from East Sussex of Sarah Henderson, Claire Emsden, Paul Smart and John Greenyer (right) handled the heckling with ease, although the judges suspected that home advantage came into play. Glory was denied by the judges who said the presentation was too scripted and narrow.
Twenty five teams entered the competition this year - the 11th time it has been run.
Nine divisional rounds took place in February, with the winners going through to three regional rounds in April.
The teams chose from four scenarios: construction of a new wind farm; road closures and diversions due to motorway maintenance; proposals for a viable regional road and rail network; or the creation of a fully integrated residential, leisure and commercial centre on the outskirts of a town.
The competition is widely seen as an invaluable training opportunity and the AME is urging more companies to encourage their graduates to participate.
INFOPLUS To enter next year e-mail elinor. goodchild@ice. org. uk