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Teams rally to the cause

THIS YEAR'S NCE Communication Competition looks set to be the best ever, organiser Ruth Birse claimed this week.

Birse, who is secretary for the association of municipal engineers, explained that 57 teams will battle it out over 16 divisional heats, the winners going forward to three regional finals. The very best will then compete head to head at the national final to be held in Cardiff on 29 June during AME's annual conference.

The aim of the competition, now in its seventh year, is to develop young engineers' communication skills. Teams have to give presentations on an imaginary civil engineering scheme and persuade the audience that their solution is best.

'We've had a very good response this year,' said Birse. 'If the teams and audience are on good form, it could easily be the best so far.'

For this year's divisional rounds, teams have a choice of four scenarios including traffic management and environmental protection in a National Park, redevelopment of a harbour in a busy tourist area and solving water shortages in a rural town.

Current champion is Queen's University Belfast, which has won for the last two years.

The NCE-sponsored competition is possibly the only ICE event where the audience is encouraged to make itself heard. 'We welcome hecklers, and the louder the better,' said Birse.

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