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Students on Fast Track for Railway Careers with The Smallpeice Trust

Teenagers from across the UK had the unique opportunity to learn about how railway technologies come together to create state-of-the-art, safe and efficient transport systems.

Leamington Spa, United Kingdom, August 03, 2011 --( From 18th to 21st July, thirty-seven teenagers from across the UK had the unique opportunity to learn about how railway technologies come together to create state-of-the-art, safe and efficient transport systems. Sponsored by the National Skills Academy for Railway Engineering (NSARE) and The Lloyd’s Register Educational Trust (The LRET), this course forms part of a major initiative to encourage young people to consider railway engineering as a possible career in the future.

Held by the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education at the University of Birmingham, the students explored a range of subjects including crashworthiness, aerodynamics, signaling, train control and wheel rail adhesion. Working in small teams, one half of the students designed and built 1:30 scale crashworthy vehicles with teams competing against each other to see which design performed best during crash testing. The second group of students came up with an automatic train control system for metro type operation, capable of maintaining a safe distance between trains and stopping sufficiently accurately to operate platform screen doors.

Valuable input was provided from Winston Rasaiah of the RAIB who ensured students had a real-world appreciation of why such technology is necessary, Graham Wire of Network Rail who spoke at the formal dinner, and Jon Bentley of The Gadget Show fame who helped adjudicate the final testing. Further financial support was also gratefully received from DeltaRail, HE STEM and the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Birmingham, who kindly funded the course dinner.

As well as working on the design, build and test elements of the projects, the students developed life skills such as teamwork, communication, problem solving, time management, finance and presentation.

The social programme included a trip to a bowling alley, a film night and the formal dinner where the students and supporting organisations had the opportunity to socialise and share their experiences of the week.

Michael Franklin, Director of The LRET commented: “The LRET is expanding its long-term relationship with The Smallpeice Trust by funding railway engineering Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) Days and residential courses, including this one on railway systems. With the UK’s ageing rail infrastructure and new networks being planned, there are vast and exciting opportunities in railway engineering and we want to encourage and inspire young people to take up careers in this fast moving sector.”

Gil Howarth, Chief Executive of NSARE added: “If the Railway Engineering industry is to attract the quantity and quality of young people required for the future, it is imperative that we raise awareness of the opportunities within Railway Engineering. As passenger and freight usage of the UK railways continues to increase the systems required to run them safely and efficiently are growing more and more complex but are often unseen by the public. This course gives a great insight into some of the engineering challenges addressed by those working in the industry every day. We are delighted to be working with The Smallpeice Trust and The LRET and to raise awareness of the exciting career opportunities Railway Engineering can offer young people.”

Dr Andrew Cave, Chief Executive of The Smallpeice Trust added, “The University of Birmingham made a splendid job of devising two exceptionally challenging design and make projects for the students to work on during the course. All of the teams put in a very good effort producing sound results, with two of the teams being 100% successful in addressing the challenges.”

The Railway Systems Engineering course is run by independent charity, The Smallpeice Trust, and is part of an on-going programme of residential courses to help young people aged 13 to 18 learn and develop skills in engineering, design, technology and manufacturing. Through running residential courses and STEM enrichment days, The Trust has reached out to 17,677 students across the UK in the past year.

The new course timetable for 2012 will be launched in the autumn school term. Places are allocated on a first come, first served basis. To find out more, visit, or telephone The Smallpeice Trust on 01926 333200.

The National Skills Academy for Railway Engineering (NSARE):

NSARE has been established by industry employers to meet the growing demand, both in terms of quality and quantity, for railway engineering skills across the UK.

For more information, visit or call Sue Gill, Head of Business development on 07833 714601.

Contact Information
The Smallpeice Trust:
Gemma Murphy
+44(0)1926 333214
or contact:
Claire Fisher
+44(0)1926 333203

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