• Learn by Design

Derby Schools rise to the challenge set by iRail 2020

Exciting day had by all!



Overview: iRail 2020

Schools from across Derby attended the annual iRail event located at The Derby Conference Centre on Thursday 5th March 2020. Sponsored by Resonate and Porterbrook. The iRail event showcases the rail industry and highlights the varying career options within the rail industry. There were many industry employers and STEM ambassadors also present who helped the students learn about their career options and also get some expert advice on how to complete this year’s challenge, ‘Lift That Box’. The new challenge was created by Derby Railway Society.


Site Visits:

Before the challenge commenced the students were taken to either Bombardier or Network Rail to get some real life experience and take inspiration from leaders in the Rail Industry. The schools enjoyed a guided tour of the facilities at each site and spoke with employees that shared their experiences of working in the industry and answered any questions the students had.



Careers Fair:

Whilst the schools were off site the iRail event opened its doors to Derby College to give their students the opportunity to engage with the employers and get valuable careers advice.


Lift That Box Challenge:

After the site visits, schools travelled back to The Derby Conference Centre to steam ahead with the challenge, Lift That Box! The students had to design and build a construction that could lift a box from the trailer off the train and place the box into a designated area on the platform in a controlled manner. NO hands allowed!


The students were provided with a set of basic materials, but there were also a variety of other items available from the ‘employers’ to create their constructions. Once they had completed their design drawings, they explored the room to get expert advice and collect the materials appropriate for the task. The materials available to them were paper, ice lolly sticks, string, cello tape, blue tack, paper clips and scissors. Some students improvised by using the paper cups the venue had provided for hot drinks! One to monitor next year!


The students used initiative and creativity to come up with a construction that could rise to the challenge and each design was unique and everyone worked hard to complete their mission.



Independent Judging:


Once the time deadline was up (which went too quick for some), it was time for each school to present their constructions to be individually judged. The judges considered the cost of materials used and the ingenuity of their design.


This resulted in two well deserved finalists, Woodlands Derby and John Flamsteed Community School


Each finalist presented their constructions in the main hall for all to hear. They spoke of how their designs came to life; how their team worked together and that plans needed to adapt through trial and error. The judges asked some further questions which were answered confidently and with the learnt knowledge of the day.


And the winners are. . .


The Winners

Woodlands Derby

They received and stunning award to keep; courtesy of Aegis Engineering,

plus a cash prize of £500 courtesy of ISS Labour.




The Runners Up

John Flamsteed Community School

They also received and stunning award to keep; courtesy of Aegis Engineering,

plus a cash prize of £250 courtesy of ISS Labour.



All participants received something to reward them of all their ideas, hard work and well demonstrated teamwork.


Teachers Workshop

Whilst the students were being inventive, the teachers had the opportunity to spend some time in the careers workshop lead by the employers and ambassadors. The aim of the workshop is to help the teachers support their students with information on all access routes into the industry.

The day was a success and could only happen with all the hard work put in from all involved.

Special thanks to all the Sponsors, STEM Ambassadors and Exhibitors that created a fantastic space to help everyone involved realise their opportunities!


The Judges on the day.


  • Allan Jones, Dave Saunders and Peter Stanton from DRES (Derby Railway Engineering Society*)

  • Nikki Beardsley and Charlotte Jackson from Resonate

  • Chris Hoare from Aegis

  • Rupert Brennan Brown from Porterbrook

  • Andy Kitchen from ISS Labour


Other exhibitors (excluding the sponsors)

Derby College, Bombardier, Balfour Beatty, East Midlands Railway, RAIB, Loram, Network Rail, The IET, Tracsis, TUV Rheinland, University of Derby, Women in Rail, Atkins, Chesterfield College and Learning Unlimited.

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