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The Smallpeice Trust

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Students on Fast Track for Railway Careers with the Smallpeice Trust

From 14th to 17st July, forty-nine teenagers from across the UK had the unique opportunity to learn about how technologies come together to create state-of-the-art, safe and efficient railway transport systems. Sponsored by the National Skills Academy for Railway Engineering (NSARE) and the Lloyd’s Register Foundation (LRF), this course forms part of a major initiative to encourage young people to consider railway engineering and railway systems engineering as a possible career in the future.

Leamington Spa, United Kingdom, July 23, 2014 --( Held by the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education at the University of Birmingham, the students explored a range of subjects including aerodynamics, signaling, train control and wheel rail adhesion. Working in small teams, 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 testing. The second group 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 automatically operate platform screen doors.

Valuable input was provided from Dominique Louis from the UK Rail Accident Investigation Branch who ensured students had a real-world appreciation of why such technology is necessary, while the University of Birmingham delivered a series of masterclasses covering topics such as how to optimise the aerodynamics or railway vehicles, the mathematics behind vehicle crashworthiness, and how to overcome the limitations of wheel rail interface. Jon Bentley of The Gadget Show fame surprised the students on the last day by helping to adjudicate the final testing.

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.

Eileen Kinghan, Grants Manager, LR Foundation, commented: “We are delighted to support Smallpeice’s railway engineering initiatives. Through these hands-on activities, students gain a practical understanding of railway engineering. They realise that their ideas can make a difference, and see the value of developing their technical skills, through school and college or university. Our aim is to 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 Lloyd’s Register Foundation and to raise awareness of the exciting career opportunities railway engineering can offer young people.”

Stephen Kent, Teaching Fellow at The University of Birmingham’s Centre for Railway Research & Education commented: “This is the fourth year that the course has run, and it is encouraging that the students keep coming up with innovative solutions to two of the challenges that the railway industry faces.”

Dr Kevin P Stenson, Chief Executive of The Smallpeice Trust added, “Thanks to continuing support from NSARE and the LR Foundation, this course has proved a great success for the fourth year running. The University of Birmingham run two exceptionally challenging design and make projects for the students to work on which saw all teams working hard to produce sound results. At a time when leading companies from the rail industry are struggling to recruit engineers, The Smallpeice Trust recognises how important it is to expose young people to this vital sector in to bridge the skills gap, and make this type of engineering more accessible to today’s youth.”

The Railway Engineering course is organised by independent charity, The Smallpeice Trust, and is part of an on-going programme of residential courses to help young people aged 12 to 18 learn and develop skills in engineering, design, technology and manufacturing. The new course timetable for 2015 will be launched in the autumn school term.

Notes to Editors

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About the Lloyd’s Register Foundation:

Lloyd’s Register Foundation (LRF), a UK registered charity and sole shareholder of Lloyd’s Register Group Ltd, invests in science, engineering and technology for public benefit, worldwide.

For more information, visit

About 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

About The Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education:

The Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education brings together a multidisciplinary team from across the University to tackle fundamental railway engineering problems. The team actively engage with industry, other universities through Rail Research UK-A, and international partners. The centre also delivers the MSc postgraduate programme in Railway Systems Engineering and Integration, as well as a number of other undergraduate and postgraduate railway related courses.
Contact Information
The Smallpeice Trust
Claire Fisher
+44(0)1926 333203

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