Students from across the East Midlands have been told that their skills are the key to keeping the UK rail engineering industry on track at this year’s iRail, held on Thursday 15th March 2012 at Derby’s historic Roundhouse.
The third annual iRail followed its established format, beginning with a networking event for regional figureheads and industry leaders around the topic of ‘encouraging young people into rail engineering’. This was followed by a Dragon’s Den style Science, Technology, Engineering & maths (STEM) challenge for over 60 students from schools in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. Woodlands School from Allestree, Derby were crowned the iRail 2012 Challenge Champions after a tense final round against Merrill College from Alvaston, Derby who finished a close second.
As in previous years, the pupils also completed an inspirational tour of train maker Bombardier and Network Rail’s East Midlands Control Centre to experience the career options that can come from a qualification in rail engineering.
iRail 2012 closed with a distinguished lecture, this year presented by Professor Andrew McNaughton, Chief Engineer of High Speed 2. The discussion focused on the technical engineering challenges surrounding HS2 and highlighted the opportunities that it presents for current and future rail engineers.
Dave Saunders, Chair of iRail, said: “The rail industry needs to be proactive in attracting fresh skills for the benefit of the UK economy. iRail plays a vital role in getting industry peers to share ideas and network whilst providing that all important inspiration to young students.”
John Frodsham, Director of the Transport iNet, added: “Our role is to encourage innovation within the East Midlands transport sector – developing a sustainable skills base is a crucial part of this and iRail provides a chance to reach industry leaders and students. The business breakfast and distinguished lecture provide a unique forum for industry peers to talk around crucial topics with key players from the transport sector.”
Organised by Transport iNet working with the Derby and Derbyshire Rail Forum (DDRF), The National Skills Academy for Railway Engineering (NSARE) and Derby Railway Engineering Society (DRES), supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), iRail 2012 was dedicated to promoting the railway industry as a viable, exciting and sustainable career option for young people.
The Transport iNet is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) with the aim of increasing the level of innovation in the East Midlands, thus helping to improve business competitiveness, margins, sustainability and growth. It enables specific sectors to work together, share ideas, technologies, intelligence, innovation and create a link between industry and the academic community.