Think BIG, think Civil Engineering

Think BIG, think Civil Engineering

November 22, 2013

Authored by Kishan Patel, CH2M HILL water engineer in our Europe region


Kishan Patel assesses the design of Year 9 pupils from local Welsh school during the Engineering Team Challenge at Cardiff University.

I became involved with the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) because it seemed the right thing to do at the time. Most of the recent graduates working in my office volunteered with ICE and I felt that it had to be done. I realised the importance of networking and meeting new people outside of work and from there it began: I joined the ICE Graduates and Students sub-group. I started by organising a pub quiz event where engineering graduates and undergraduates met, networked and answered trivia questions. I became enthused to motivate more young aspiring engineers and tell them what my company, CH2M HILL does. In just a few short weeks an opportunity presented itself. I volunteered to be the chair of the organising committee that delivers the Engineering Team Challenge. Great! But what did that actually entail? I had to pick a team of sponsorship managers, raise money to support the event, find a few challenge coordinators to determine the challenge, and ask school coordinators to recruit pupils, who would be my young engineers for the day of the Engineering Team Challenge.

This year’s challenge was to design and construct a model earthquake-resistant building from limited materials, which was then tested on seismic shakers. Teams are assessed upon construction costs, ability to withstand seismic activity, innovation, functionality and aesthetics.

Sorted and done, right? Not even close. Our school coordinators managed to find 450 pupils from schools around all of Wales! All of our event venues were full. And the expectation to deliver a great event was upon our shoulders. It took nine months to plan that one-week event and we felt ready. But the truth is when organizing 450 12- to 15-year-olds, one is never prepared enough.

Ten CH2M HILL employees (Kishan Patel – chair organising committee, Kieran Hayes, Arran Causon, Joseph Bradford, Nathan Duke, Matthew Bartlett, Jessica Li, Clara Hawthorne, Cara Francis and Emanuela Mira) volunteered 190 hours in support of the preparation and implementation of the five-day event, which ran 4-8 November at Cardiff and Swansea Universities, Trinity College and the University of South Wales.


Simon Jones of Science Made Simple, gives a demo of a earthquake simulation at Trinity College, Camarthen at the Engineering Team Challenge event.

We encouraged the pupils to ‘think BIG and think Civil Engineering’. The 2013 Engineering Team Challenge turned out to be a huge success! The event was one of the most successful (if not the most successful) outreach programme organised by the Institution of Civil Engineers Cymru.

I still remember when a young engineer came up to me and said that they want to become a civil engineer: a scary and a proud moment. Scary because you know the enormous amount of hard work that is required for them to be a civil engineer. And proud because you know the world will be a great place to be in as long as civil engineers are around to take care of it.

The team of employees applied for an Employee Action Grant from the CH2M HILL Foundation for their volunteer efforts which resulted in a US$1,000 grant to ICE for the programme. In 2013, the Foundation supported the volunteer efforts of UK employees through 23 grants to 17 UK-based charitable organisations.

Kishan Patel graduated from Cardiff University in July 2012, and started working for CH2M HILL on their graduate development programme in the Water Business Group in October 2012 based in Cardiff, Wales.

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November 2013


  1. sudip kumar swain

    Hi Kishan. The effort made is truly inspiring as it'll spread the awareness and to think beyond in our field. It'll be great if such an event can be created at India chapter of ICE. Great work. Reg

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