SCHOOL CHILDREN designed solutions to some of the world's major natural disasters in a schools' initiative from three graduate ICE members which toured the country last week.
Nicola McLhlery, Ben Moss and Isobel Byrne Hill of Ove Arup involved 13 year old children in building emergency water supplies and shelters as part of an initiative to make year nine pupils more aware of what civil engineers do.
The strategy behind the Disaster Engineering Challenge which toured schools in Manchester, Tonbridge, Chester and Bangor, was to show how civil engineers are essential to people's survival.
McLhlery said: 'We decided that showing the work that civil engineers do in disaster situations was the most effective way of selling the profession.'
The day started with a presentation about the central role civil engineers play in providing the five elements essential for survival - water, shelter, sanitation, food and medicine. The children were shown how engineers were directly involved in supplying the first three and helped build the roads, bridges and airports needed to distribute the other two.
'We decided on a very simple message,' said McLhlery. 'We would show a slide of flooding in a disaster situation and follow it up with a slide of a dam to help them make the connection.'
The children were then thrown some poles and pipework; plastic sheeting and strips of wood and told to put their new-found knowledge to the test. 'We tested the shelters by making the children climb inside them and pouring water on to them which went down very well,' said McLhlery. Winners of the most waterproof shelter and fastest water supply were awarded a teeshirt bearing the slogan 'Civil Engineering . . . MAD FOR IT.'