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Civil Engineering students work on plans for canal

Every year final year BEng (Hons) Civil Engineering students take part in a group design project.

Every year final year BEng (Hons) Civil Engineering students take part in a group design project.

The challenge set was to assume the role of practicing engineers working on a real engineering problem and they must 'masterplan' a solution which meets the client's needs. A real external client was brought in for the project, which for this year was a charitable group 'The Friends of Cromford Canal' (FCC), who are committed to restoring a 15 mile section of the derelict Cromford Canal.

The students were charged with masterplanning a particularly challenging 1.2 mile section of the canal restoration, where the former route is now partially blocked by houses / access to businesses and would require construction of a substantial bridge to cross over a busy trunk road and railway line.

The FCC encouraged the students to depart from viewing this simply as an engineering exercise and to consider the wider implications of their masterplan. This included socio-economic implications for the community, how the restoration would be experienced by the end users, environmental, health and safety issues to name a few. However, the most important factor was to understand that the client has no funds and consider how the proposals could be used to apply for funding.

The groups took on the project with vigour and produced some superb engineering solutions, which were very cleverly linked back to funding sources. One group consisting of Rhys Legate, Oliver Mayall, Joe Harper, Christian Larter and Nocholas Merriman suggested the idea to build a 'dry crossing' as an innovative, unique methods of avoiding the use of a lock.

Several client representatives came along to both the interim and final presentations delivered by the student groups. The FCC awarded a client prize to their 'winning group'. At the end of April, senior lecturer Paul Beetham went along to the annual general meeting of the FCC to showcase the students posters / presentations on their behalf, which went down very well.

Matthew Rogers, Chairman of FCC told us: "The impact of the group design projects on the Friends of the Cromford Canal membership was visible by the outstanding praise from every member that I spoke to following the presentations. We are hoping to take some of the ideas forward to the local Chamber of Commerce to try to turn them into reality. Our wholehearted thanks for their enthusiasm and professionalism throughout the project."

On the back of the success, NTU are looking to work more with the FCC. We hope to run an extended group project on the Cromford restoration next year, we are also discussing possible undergraduate and master's dissertation projects on some other parts of the canal restoration.

Civil Engineering students work on plans for canal

Published on 11 July 2014
  • Category: School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment

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