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Lynden Cable wins NCE/ACE Oustanding Achievement Award

Lynden Cable - winner of this year’s NCE/ACE Outstanding Achievement Award - is a wonderful example of someone who is taking a positive message about the industry to the widest audience

Most engineers bemoan the fact that young people don’t consider a career in engineering, but few actually do something about it. The winner of this year’s Outstanding Achievement Award, however, is a rare exception to that rule: an inspirational engineer who spends much of his spare time raising awareness of engineering among schoolchildren.

Lynden Cable, a principal engineer in WYG’s Leeds office, has been described by his company as having an “infectious” passion for the industry and an “incorrigible” enthusiasm to share that passion.

Cable himself is slightly more self-effacing. “It brings me great satisfaction to see that spark of interest ignited – to create understanding as to what a civil engineer is and the role we play in society,” he says.

Thanks to Cable’s efforts, thousands of schoolchildren in Yorkshire and Humberside now have a better understanding of what it means to be a civil engineer, and for many that spark has been well and truly ignited.

In his day job Cable has been involved in the design and construction of a major PFI hospital, where the challenges have included building Europe’s largest slipformed concrete core structures. After working nine to five on a project like that all week, most engineers might want to give themselves a bit of a break, but not Cable. His spare time is spent leading a local Scout troop and devising events to educate children about engineering.

Cable holds the position of Regional Education Coordinator (REC) for the ICE in Yorkshire and Humberside, a role that involves organising and guiding a team of “ambassadors” to provide schoolchildren with educational activities that fit in with different stages of the National Curriculum. His incorrigible enthusiasm has helped Cable persuade 150 people to become ambassadors in the region, out of a total of 500 nationwide, making his the largest educational team in the UK.

In the last 12 months Cable and his team have organised over 100 civil engineering-related activities in 75 schools, reaching 10,000 pupils between the ages of four and 18.

Last October Cable led a two-day “Rapid Response Engineering Challenge” at Harrogate Grammar School in which children were given the chance to act as disaster relief engineers. The pupils had been learning about managing risk in different environments as part of their Key Stage 3 geography curriculum, so Cable used the example of a recent earthquake in Honduras to help them understand what the role of the engineer might be. Activities at the event included drawing up plans for relief work and building shelters and water supply systems – and testing them.

Cable’s colleagues at WYG say that his “limitless energy, dedication and genuine passion for engineering” make him “shine as a true ambassador for our industry”. The judges agreed, saying: “Lynden is exciting people of an age who are traditionally difficult to get interested in engineering.” But perhaps the last word should go to Heather, a Year 9 pupil at Harrogate Grammar School who attended Cable’s Rapid Response Engineering Challenge. “I really liked it,” she says. “It was fun and educational as well and it sounds like a job I would like to do when I’m older.”

Finalist: Chantelle Stewart, BDP

BDP’s lighting design consultancy has certainly made its presence felt since entering the Irish market in April 2008. In a market dominated by lighting manufacturers and suppliers, the company – led by lighting director Chantelle Stewart – undertook a “guerrilla lighting” campaign to alert potential clients to its consultancy services.

Guerrilla lighting is part performance art, part advertising. In BDP’s case it involved signing up over 300 members of the public to help illuminate some of Dublin’s best known buildings in a series of apparently spontaneous – but carefully choreographed – events.

The technique requires considerable input from lighting designers, so the events in Dublin acted as a powerful promotional tool for Stewart and her team. At the same time, however, they also involved engagement with local people, so were a very effective way of stimulating public debate about lighting design.

Between October 2008 and January 2009, Stewart and her team organised three guerrilla lighting events, two in Dublin and one in the Cork fishing town of Baltimore. In Dublin, BDP’s “guerrillas” – students, artists, architects, lighting experts and members of the public – lit up prominent buildings like the City Council offices, Christ Church Cathedral and Trinity College. At Baltimore, Stewart enlisted local fishermen to illuminate an abandoned trawler and a chapel to emphasise the “lost heart” of the community – the declining fishing industry.

Guerrilla lighting has certainly proved successful as a marketing tool: new business opportunities have opened up in Ireland as a result of the events, and Stewart’s team now has a high profile among potential clients.


Finalist: AMRC Sheffield, Buro Happold

The successful design and construction of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Sheffield has demonstrated that carbon neutral buildings are both practical and cost effective.

The centre’s designer, Buro Happold, claims the project will “help redefine current thinking on the design and construction of low energy buildings”.

It certainly shows the rest of the industry what is possible, and offers a great showcase for the design team’s capabilities.

Designing a totally carbon neutral building involved consultants from a wide range of disciplines within Buro Happold, from foundation and structural engineers to building services and façade specialists. Bringing them all together to meet the client’s requirements for an exemplar “factory of the future” is no mean feat.

The AMRC is a flexible space for researching and manufacturing new materials and components for the aircraft sector. It has 30 industrial sponsors – including Boeing, Rolls Royce and BAe Systems – and has been funded by Yorkshire Forward and EU Objective 1.

Regeneration is a key driver for the project, as exemplified by its location on a reclaimed former coal mine
cast site.

The designers, who had to come up with foundation designs for the building and its two wind turbines that would accommodate the settlement that is expected once all mining in the area ceases.

The turbines will provide heating and cooling energy, while ground source heat pumps will heat and cool all the water used in the building.

The sophisticated structural design and extensive use of natural lighting and ventilation will ensure the AMRC meets its carbon neutral target.