Newham primary school children have been challenged to name the TBM that will bore the 6.4km Lee Tunnel beneath the borough.
Thames Water has asked schools to choose a female name name for the 120m long TBM, and children aged between five and 11 are being asked for drawings, poems, films or short stories to support each entry.
Thames Water and its tunnel contractor MVB will reward the winning school with a £5,000 in kind donation which can be spent on items including computers and sports equipment.
Two-runners up will each receive a £1,000 in kind donation. Winners will also be invited to come and see the machine.
The £635M Lee Tunnel will prevent 16M.t of sewage entering the River Lee each year from overflow points built into London’s Victorian sewer system.
Thames Water head of capital delivery Lawrence Gosden said: “We want to capture the hearts and minds of young people in Newham so they know what this project is all about, and who knows, they may be inspired to be engineers when they grow up.
“It is tradition that all tunnelling machines are given a girl’s name for good luck.”
From mid-June, the tunnelling machine will be transported from Germany to London, where it will be reassembled in sections at Beckton sewage treatment works, before it is lowered into the ground.
Tunnelling work is due to begin in January 2012 and is expected to finish in late 2013. The machine is likely to progress at a rate of 17m a day.