Expect cut-throat competition at this year's Civils when 200 engineers get stuck into the RedR Challenge. Alan Sparks gets a taste of the battle to come.
The RedR Challenge will be a golden opportunity to see fellow engineers squirm under pressure, as well as a chance to support the engineering industry's favourite charity:
In a race against the clock as well as one another, 50, fourstrong teams will be set a series of tasks in a simulated disaster relief situation. The aim is to reflect the type of 'back to basics' problems faced by RedR engineers when active in the field.
Planning, initiative, common sense, co-operation and a modicum of physical acumen are all required - as well as the ability to hold it together under pressure.
No computational fluid dynamic analysis program will be of any help to the competitors here.
Traditional engineering judgement and the ability to think on their feet will be the most valuable tool in any competitor's locker.
The two large car parks outside NEC Hall 12, which houses Civils 2002, will be transformed for the day into a refugee camp.
Teams will have to not only decide how to resolve a water supply problem, but also buy appropriate equipment using credits earned in mental and physical agility tests. They must finally build a system of pipes to carry water from one side of the camp to the other. It will test the team's problem solving, communication, logic and tactical decision making skills, as well as their fitness and ability. A simple task for engineers, surely.
Specialist training organisation Global Challenge UK is organising the competition that will take place on Wednesday 12 June, the second day of Civils 2002.
Engineers have proved eager to take on defending champion Costain, with the full complement of 50 teams signed up three months in advance of the event.
Special mention must go to consultant MWH for putting forward six teams for the challenge, and to Binnie Black & Veatch and WS Atkins with four teams apiece. There has also been a tremendous response from Buro Happold, Mott MacDonald, Posford Haskoning, Vivendi and WSP Civils, all of which have entered more than one team, demonstrating both great support for a deserving charity and a genuine determination to claim the trophy.
Contestants are busy raising cash in advance of the clash - across the nation sponsorship forms are circulating round offices and site cabins, with teams bidding to gain the upper hand by bringing in the greatest sum. You can look forward to your workmates getting a thorough soaking on the day, but your contribution will be vital in making it worthwhile.
RedR is not just another charity - it is the profession's charity.
And this is the perfect opportunity for the profession to get right behind it.
To manage 200 pumped up engineers, the contest is being run in two halves. The day begins for the first hundred hopefuls at 8am with morning registration; the second wave of challengers register at high noon. All entrants will be, of course, free to wander around the show while not competing and pick up a day's continuing professional development in the process.
Roaming the show, networking with their peers and relaxing, the contenders will be able to keep an eye on rivals' progress via plasma screens, transmitting the contest live into the main show. The whole competition will also be covered in NCE with a blow by blow account of the activities.
Every team will be hoping to stay in the running until 5pm when the official prize giving takes place. But the real prize giving will be long after the event, when RedR puts the money to work.
Contact Julie Kingsland at RedR on (020) 7233 3116.
RedR is a registered charity:
No 1079752 www. redr. org www. civils. com Anglian Water Technology Group Arup Association of Graduate Students (North East Branch) Association of London Graduate Students Atkins (4) Babtie Binnie Black & Veatch (4) Buro Happold (2) Cameron Taylor Bedford Cementation Foundations Skanska Cornwall County Council Costain Engineering Department, Cambridge University Engineers Without Borders Environment Agency Halcrow ICE Kier Construction Masons Maunsell Mott MacDonald (2) MWH (6) New Civil Engineer Owen Williams Consultants Pell Frischmann Posford Haskoning (2) Price & Myers Roger Bullivant Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge Symonds TPS Consult Vivendi (2) Whitby Bird & Partners WSP Civils (2) Danny Bonnett, Cameron Taylor Bedford My team is expecting to have a lot of fun and build a real team spirit. Although we are based in the same office we rarely get the chance to work together and get to know each other outside work.
I'm a registered member of RedR myself and think that it offers the chance for engineers to offer their expertise to those who need it most. For little cost to their employer, there is a disproportionate gain to those who receive the fruits of RedR engineers' labour.
The RedR induction course far outstripped my expectations. I went with the idea that when on assignment everybody would love me and I was going to save the world. But the course explained the reality and brought home to me the special qualities needed by RedR members.
Chris Setters, WSP I really enjoy my job but the experience of being a RedR engineer would be incomparable. Once I become chartered, I would be interested in joining the register for this very reason. This would give the opportunity to put my engineering talents to the most worthwhile use.
As for the RedR Challenge, we are looking forward to working together and making sure we at least beat the other WSP team.
Some of our younger entrants were a little nervous of embarrassing themselves.
But I think we have assured them that they have nothing to fear - especially from the NCE team.
Jonathon Oatridge, Atkins We are really looking forward to the event and have been trying to raise as much money as possible. We think that we will carry an advantage over most of the teams, as we know each other very well already.
We also have a complementary balance to our team. We have young whipper-snappers and some older, more experienced heads. I personally have two years experience working in Kenya for Tearfund, the Christian Aid agency. The rewards were incredible and it really was an experience of a lifetime, so I was particularly keen to lend a hand.
We want to finish in the top 10.
But beating the other three Atkins teams is the main priority.
www. tearfund. org James Piggott, Binnie, Black & Veatch The prime reason we entered was to find out as much as we could about how to get involved with RedR.
We have a very young team with only one or two years' postgrad experience as water engineers.
Even though we work in a similar field to the theme of the challenge, we do not see this being an advantage. Contractors which have hands on experience will have a bit of a head start over us.
The teambuilding started with regular meetings and a sponsorshipraising quiz night. We also had a youth group evening hopefully to promote RedR, engineering and of course BB&V.
Gary Wintersgill, Kier Some of our younger guys saw the challenge in NCE and were very keen to take part. We have had total encouragement and support from all our bosses ever since we first approached them with the idea.
As a contractor, building teamwork is paramount and we feel this will serve us well. Our team is multitalented with a mix of brains, beauty and brawn.
Just being there will be great, as it's such a fine cause. But make no mistake we will be aiming to win.