TEAMS OF 14-year-olds were thrust into a hurricane disaster zone this week in the latest attempt to lure young people into engineering.
At the Rapid Response Engineering Challenge, held at UCL, London, on 22 June, students were presented with natural disaster scenarios.
They had to evaluate the disaster, develop engineering designs and then construct shelters and transport water.
The day was designed to give the students a vour of the challenges modern engineers face when asked to deal with natural or man-made disasters.
ICE London chairman Steve Miller said: 'These challenges are vital to the profession.
Students are able to gain an insight into three key branches of civil engineering - water, transportation and structural engineering.
'Holding a day like this really gets across the message that civil engineering is challenging and varied, and that it is also essential for survival.' On the day, students were given a brief based on a real event, the Hurricane Mitch disaster in 1998, when Honduras was engulfed by what was then the strongest Atlantic hurricane on record. Winds of 290km/h and seven months' rainfall in a single day caused chaos and 7,000 deaths.
The winning team was chosen on the basis of the speed and effiency of its solutions. An ICE London spokesman said:
'All participating schools did very well, but the overall winners, Northwood School, Hillingdon, scored consistently high marks in all of the five tasks assigned.
'They impressed the judges with their team work, attention to detail and enthusiasm.' The day gave UCL the chance to showcase a new course, an MSc in Earthquake Engineering with Disaster Management, due to start in September.