Ask most people what comes to mind when they think of mechanical engineering, and many will respond with railways and trains.
Our foundations as an institution are indeed firmly built on the traditions of railway engineering, with engineers who saw themselves no longer as civil engineers; building static infrastructure, but as innovators of moving machines, able to cross vast distances at speed, transporting limitless amounts of goods and people.
Our first two Presidents, George and Robert Stephenson are still revered today as the fathers of the railway industry and as we celebrate the institution’s 175th anniversary, we can look back with some pride at the achievements and innovations that continue to be developed across the rail industry today.
Those innovations can of course only take place if we have a new generation of engineers to drive them forward. The education of our future engineering workforce is undeniably woven into the institution’s ethos and mission across all aspects of engineering, and rail continues to play its part in delivering that objective. This passion and enthusiasm for educating the next gen is manifested in the Institution’s railways challenge held for the last 11 years at Stapleford Miniature Railway in Leicestershire.
Planned and delivered by a team of institution volunteers from the railway division, the competition, which brings together teams of international young engineers and apprentices from across the railway sector is, as one would expect, timetabled and executed with the upmost precision, with teams being tested on their technical skills, engineering knowledge and business acumen over three intense and long days.
The competition is friendly, yet fierce as the Grand Champion’s trophy is on show for all to see in the judging tent, making sure that everyone of the competitors plays their part.
It doesn’t matter if you are an ardent train fanatic, a keen enthusiast of engineering outside your own field like me or just a curious spectator, you cant help but get drawn in to the excitement and frustration as the completions days progress. And of course, the whole thing is topped off by a ride along the mile long track with the wind in your face and the clackity clack of the tracks beneath you.
What could be more evocative of our engineering ingenuity?
In this months episode Helen and the HQ AV team headed out to Leicestershire for a live recording of the sights and sounds of the Railway Challenge and spoke with the Challenge’s chair, several of the volunteer judges as well as team members as they prepared their locomotives for the first day of tests.
We wont give any spoilers as to who won, but you can read all about the winners and the teams participating in the link below.
We would love to hear your thoughts and comments on this episode. If you would like to get in touch, email us at email@example.com
You can find more information about the work of the IMechE at www.imeche.org