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Abertay University engineering project reaches 1,500 pupils

20 December 2017

A Royal Academy of Engineering project has built connections with more than 1,500 school pupils and families from across Tayside and Fife.

Children from St Peter and Paul's Primary School taking part in the infrastructure project (tower building) during Fife Science Festival at Craigowl PS

Staff from Abertay University organised a series of engagement activities designed to teach youngsters about civil engineering while improving the communication skills of engineers themselves. 

Using the new Dundee Railway Station project as a focal point, organisers created teaching sessions and information banners, before designing a range of simple construction tasks to be carried out in schools and during Dundee and Fife science festivals.

Children learned about the complexities of operating the project over live railway lines, removing the old railway station and building the foundations for the new station.

They also learned about installing new (and protecting old) services such as electricity, telephone cables, water and green infrastructure networks and the railway station superstructure.

The sessions included family drop-in workshops where parents and children were encouraged to construct and compete against each other.

Volunteer engineers were challenged to explain complex engineering and scientific ideas and processes confidently, avoiding any jargon, to communicate the message that the wealth and wellbeing of society is dependent upon engineering.

Fife schools including Crossgates, Hill of Beath, Lochgelly West, Coaltown of Balgonie, Carleton, Rumbleton and Warout all took part.

In Dundee, Craigowl, St Peter and Paul’s and Grove Academy were involved, while in Angus the engineers engaged with Carlogie Primary and Websters High.

Abertay 4th Year Civil Engineering student Stephen Brindle helps St Peter and Paul's Primary School children construct an archway using giant jenga blocks during Fife Science Festival at Craigowl PS.

Project partners included Dundee City Council, Perth and Kinross Council, Aberdeen and Dundee universities and industry experts such as BEAR Scotland, Fairhurst, Balfour Beatty, SWECO, WSP and Carruthers Renewables. 

The work was funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering's Ingenious scheme for projects that engage the public and school children with engineers and related disciplines such as construction, structures, transport, geotechnics, materials and urban engineering.

Ingenious has funded nearly 200 projects to date, providing opportunities for over 5,000 engineers to take part in public engagement activities and gain communication skills to bring engineering to society.

Research Project Officer Alison Duffy, who coordinates the scheme for Abertay with Dr Dan Gilmour and Neil Berwick, said: “It’s never too early to get children interested in education and this project has been a tremendous way to engage pupils in engineering.

“For our volunteer engineers, the experience of communicating working methods to such a young and enthusiastic audience has been invaluable, and both children and parents have been completely engrossed during the sessions.”

The project was launched in 2016 and is due to come to an end next year.

For more information on studying civil engineering at Abertay visit

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