Four young engineers who won the Academy’s top school student award earlier this year, have claimed their prize by experiencing a completed 2012 Olympic venue up-close.

Bethan Dobson, Georgina Flower, Sarah Parsons and Charlotte Porter, all 18 and currently awaiting their A level results from Rugby High School, travelled to London to be given a private tour of the Olympic Velodrome by Expedition Engineering, the firm co-founded by Academy Fellow Chris Wise FREng, which designed the already iconic structure.

The tour was part of a prize for the girls who scooped the Royal Academy of Engineering award in March for demonstrating the best application of engineering principles in the young people’s National Science and Engineering Competition. Their winning project saw them undertake a detailed research study for Rugby-based firm Alstom to identify a calibration system to assess running tip clearance in steam turbine blades used to make electricity in power stations.

At the Olympic Park, the students were driven around the entire 2.5 sq km site (the equivalent of 357 football pitches) with information about each of the venues provided by a representative from the Olympic Delivery Authority. They were given a detailed tour of the Velodrome where they discovered how it was designed and built, how its structure works and how its environment will be controlled to help athletes achieve the quickest times.

Charlotte Porter said: “We all had a really good time. It was exciting to see how the Olympic site was coming together and to be shown around the velodrome by the people who actually designed it. I know it’s a cliché but it really opened our eyes to what engineering can be like and it was a real inspiration.”

The engineering foursome were also shown Expedition Engineering’s central London offices and given an insight into the company’s many high profile projects, including the Stockton-on-Tees Infinity Bridge, the Las Arenas Bullring in Barcelona, the London Cable Car and their entry for the British Antarctic Survey’s Halley VI Ice Station.

The company’s work was explained using a variety of static, dynamic and CAD (computer aided design) models to show how it designs and tests all its projects.Highlights included playing with the Lego model that Expedition used for the ‘walking’ Antarctic Ice Station, and handling high-tech components and materials that have been used to create some truly landmark structures.

Finally, they also made a trip to the Science Museum to watch a 3D IMAX movie about the Hubble telescope.

George Oates, Senior Engineer at Expedition Engineering and a Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Teaching Fellow, said: “It’s great for us at Expedition to be able to take the four Rugby High School students onto the Olympic site and give them a tour of the velodrome – something which not many people will get to do before the Games begin next year.

“It’s always fantastic to see such enthusiasm in young engineers and I hope their passion for engineering continues to develop while they are at university. Perhaps one day they’ll be the ones conducting the tour for the next generation of talented students.”

Notes for editors

  1. The Royal Academy of Engineering

    Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.
  2. National Science & Engineering Competition

    The National Science & Engineering Competition 2011 was open to 11-18 year olds across the UK. Finalists were invited to present their project at The Big Bang. Here they had their own exhibition stand amongst the big household names and were able to show-off all their hard work to journalists, prospective employers and universities – as well as the school groups and VIPs attending The Fair. As well as the great prizes for both teams and individuals, winners of the senior individual categories are crowned the UK Young Scientist of the Year or the UK Young Engineer of the Year at the award winners’ ceremony.

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Ed Holmes on 0207 766 0655