PPE: Brunel 200 - Avon Gorge Crossing Competition - Connecting people, ideas, knowledge and skills

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Civil Engineering


2006 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. A wide variety of celebratory activities are being coordinated by Brunel 200 (http://www.brunel200.com), a partnership initiative led by Bristol Cultural Development Partnership. The University of Bristol and @Bristol are partners in Brunel 200 and are contributing in several ways. In one of these, the University of Bristol is working with New Civil Engineer magazine to re-run the Clifton Bridge Design Competition that Brunel won in 1831. The competition format will be to set a modern brief, derived from Brunel's original brief, that asks engineers to imagine what technologies, materials, construction practices etc. they would like to create over the next 50 years and to draw up innovative design concepts for crossing the Avon gorge at Clifton. We want the competitors also to emphasise the process they followed in developing their concepts and how they used models to consider and relate the social, environmental and technical contexts. Competitors will be required to target their submissions at the general public and school pupils, as a means of promoting a wider awareness and appreciation of engineering. Our aim for the competition, and the follow-on educational programme set out in this PPE proposal, is to use the inspirational context of Brunel's work to show that equally inspirational engineering is happening today, and that the intrinsic engineering process is essentially the same today as it was for Brunel. The integrating theme of the competition is that the engineering process is essentially about making connections / engineering is primarily a purposeful, iterative process of learning through which we connect people, ideas, knowledge, skills etc. to first formulate and then solve problems. The great engineering solutions are created by the engineers who make the most imaginative and meaningful connections. Modelling, be it mental, oral, textual, graphical, mathematical, computational or physical etc, is the means by which we make and capture the connections and, thereby, develop a shared view of the purpose and the outcomes of our actions.The main purpose of the PPE proposal is to take advantage of the unique resource that the competition will produce and to integrate it with other resources, including digitised elements of Brunel's archive which is held by Bristol University and the outputs of other relevant Brunel 200 activities, in order to create a timely and lasting educational legacy that will help to inspire future engineers and researchers. The proposal will allow us to work with @Bristol, Science Learning Centre South West, local secondary and primary schools, a production company for Teachers TV, New Civil Engineer magazine, the Young Engineers Club, and the Institution of Civil Engineers 'Ambassadors' educational network to create a set of evaluated educational resources that will support the aims of the 'Shape the Future' campaign being launched by the Royal Academy of Engineering at the Science Museum on 28 November 2005.


10 25 50