Building bridges to careers in STEM with Derby College

irail 2019

In conjunction with East Midlands Rail Forum (EMRF) and Derby College, Ward joined other local businesses as STEM Ambassadors at #iRail2019 in Derby’s Roundhouse to encourage students to consider careers in rail and engineering.

At the full-day workshop delivered by Derby College and the EMRF, a range of young learners from different further education colleges around Derby worked in eight teams to design and build a bridge over a railway track using only paper, sticky tape and string.

Each team was given a set of basic materials free of charge, but were also able to buy extras, such as more sheets of paper and lollipop sticks to build a railway bridge that was strong enough to hold a train carriage, while another train passed underneath.

STEM Ambassadors

Ashley Oates, Sustainability and Environment Manager at Ward, took part in the day as a STEM Ambassador and commented: “It was great to be asked to get involved by the Rail Forum. What was a really interesting was seeing how the students approached the task. It was good to talk with the teams as they worked though real life problems to try and meet the brief. There is a real need for greater diversity in science, technology and maths related jobs once college is completed, days like this really open people’s eyes to the different careers that are possible.”

Ashley Oates STEM ambassador

Ashley and fellow Ambassadors talked with the teams and helped them worked through problems and solutions, then formed the judging panel at the end of the day. Each team presented their completed bridge to the judges and were assessed on design, approach, whether it met the brief and was fit for purpose. They tested the bridges to see if they stood up and could bear weight.

The winning team wowed the judges a bridge made entirely from folded paper which held a train while another passed underneath, plus they were impressed with their approach and the team effort.

Ward, is a long-standing member of the Rail Forum and also runs the Ward Business Employer Academy as part of Derby College’s programme to bridge the gap between education and the workplace and to better prepare students for the world of work.

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