HUMAN LIFE on Mars was the theme of the task set to hundreds of London school children over the past few weeks. As their entry in the ICE's Henry Palmer competition - which aims to promote engineering to school pupils - the young engineers from Whitby Bird & Partners challenged pupils to create a design for life on Mars. Engineers Phillipa Lane, Katherine Munt and Helen Crowley took the challenge to eight schools across London. 'It was very rewarding as you could actually see them beginning to think like engineers, ' said Lane.
A competition to find the best engineered design was won by Karen Foster, Linda Cjan and Candice Marcel from St. Angela's Ursuline Convent School in Forest Gate. Their design, entitled Survival on Mars, was considered outstanding, with a detailed model and intricately presented diagrams. 'The children we met had so much enthusiasm it was really refreshing', said Munt. Professor of Planetary Science at the Open University, Colin Pillinger, believes it would take a space race to get a person to Mars in reality and certainly not in the next 25 years.
Despite this the students' enthusiasm could not be dampened, with most working on their design at weekends and after school. Designs ranged from turbines to domestic dwellings, from hotels to transport terminus and even a prison. During an Engineering Club meeting it was suggested that the new engineering GCSE should be given a different name due to engineering's dull image. Lane argued that this is not true, citing the massive interest shown in this competition.