Building bridges – Students become engineers for the day at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Building bridges – Students become engineers for the day at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

180 students from Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Newham and Waltham Forest headed down to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park this week for a taste of life as a Civil Engineer.

As part of the Bridges to Schools programme, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park hosted the students as they worked with their heads (and hands) to figure out how to build a 13-metre cable-stayed bridge. Each session was presented by members of the Institution of Civil Engineers, who took questions about what it is like to work in the field.


The children were kitted out in high-vis vests, hard hats, gloves and goggles (safety first). Once the bridges were completed the hard hats came in helpful as each student had a chance to walk across it to test out just how good their engineering skills were.

Paul Brickell, Executive Director of Regeneration and Community Partnerships at the London Legacy Development Corporation explained that “these events on the Park capture the imagination of young people and help to unlock their huge talent and potential. I hope it inspires some of them to become engineers and the builders of our future parks, homes and universities.”

The event was spearheaded by the London Legacy Development Corporation, the Institution of Civil Engineers and infrastructure group Balfour Beatty, in an attempt to raise awareness of the exciting careers that engineering and the built environment can offer young people.

Of course, the students don’t just learn how to build a bridge but also the importance of safe working practices and collaboration as well as the engineering principles and techniques involved in building a bridge including everything from counterweights, towers in compression and cables in tension.

What is Bridges to Schools


Bridges to Schools was launched by the Institution of Civil Engineers in 2012 and aims to inspire and motivate young people to take up a career in science or engineering field.

Jonathan Baggs, Regional Director at the Institution of Civil Engineers, believes that the events are a “fantastic” because as “so many young people attended the bridge-building event[s] [which] aim is to show young people the important role that civil engineering plays in creating a positive impact for the community. Today gave the students the opportunity to apply what they have learnt in the classroom and experience first-hand what it is like to be a civil engineer”.

Students that take part are encouraged to improve their knowledge in physics, maths and other related subjects.

Visit ICEs website to find more information about the Institution of Civil Engineers educational outreach work and explore their resources.

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