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Degree students showcase their knowledge to tackle real-world problem

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  • News date: Nov '22
  • News author: Liam Waite

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A REAL-WORLD problem inspired Lakes College degree apprentices to come up with a solution as part of their course.

Civil engineering degree apprentices from the National College for Nuclear were challenged by their tutor to design a new bridge which would allow cyclists to ride at a popular beauty spot.

As part of a unit focused on structural analysis and materials, lecturer Mohamed Alwaheshi carried out research on suspension bridges in Cumbria and found that cycling had previously been banned on a footbridge at Portinscale.

Mohamed tasked his civil engineering students from the National College for Nuclear with analysing the structure and designing a new bridge which could allow cyclists to cross.

“It presented them with a real-world scenario and a problem, and asked them to solve it, which is something you could encounter in the workplace,” Mohamed said.

The project started with a visit to the bridge to survey the area using total stations, which enabled the students to create as-built drawings of the bridge.

During the trip, the survey attracted the attention of members of the public who were keen to know more about what they were working on and why.

They also provided feedback on the bridge and background on the local area which was useful in developing a full picture.

This presented a real-world problem to the students – needing to take into account public opinion on developments as this would be factored in during any consultation process if the bridge was to be erected.

Once the as-built drawings have been finalised, the students will work in the lab in the National College for Nuclear at Lakes College to undertake the required testing and calculations for a small model of a simple suspension bridge.

This will allow them to undertake a load capacity test of the modelled bridge which will help them to decide on a proposed design.

Following the experimental work, the students will undertake structural analysis and design calculations for a new proposed bridge and propose suitable materials for the structure, giving evidence of up-to-date knowledge on selection process.

Sustainability issues will be addressed in the design and selection process of materials.

Mohamed said: “The feedback I received from the students was really positive because the visit was linked to their civil engineering work which could improve their skills.

Andrew Potts, who is studying a foundation degree in civil engineering and asset management at Lakes College while working at Morgan Sindall Construction & Infrastructure Ltd, added: “These practical projects motivate you even more to keep learning because you see how it applies to the workplace.”