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iRail Derby 2018 saw East Midlands schools explore careers in rail

iRail at Derby Conference Centre, 13th March 2018 

13 school teams joined the #iRail2018 East Midlands event at Derby Conference Centre today to showcase their interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering & maths) skills whilst exploring rail careers.  Schools including Chellaston Academy, Noel Baker L.E.A.D. Academy and Derby UTC to name a few, brought their students to compete in the iRail Bridge Building Challenge. Elaine Clark, Rail Forum East Midlands Manager, opened the day with welcoming speech to students and teachers.

Industry Led Tours:

Before the challenge kicked off, teams were taken on site visits to Bombardier, the Network Rail Mobile Maintenance Train at Etches Park Depot and Resonate which included industry led tours, both sparking interest, questions and career talks. These talks highlighted the breadth of engineering study options available to young people in the region.

Bombardier wowed students with exclusive access to the train production line, revealing a glimpse of the new CrossRail, London Train which will run on the newly built Elizabeth line. Sponsor of the East Midlands event Resonate, provided students with the opportunity to interact with signalling experts and witness first hand their Traffic Management Technology ‘Luminate’ in action, putting Digital Railway Technology firmly on the map.

Students were also impressed by the £6 million Mobile Maintenance Train (MMT) also known as the ‘Workshop on Wheels’ at Network Rail’s Etches Park Depot where they had the chance to climb aboard and see first-hand where the engineers work day to day to keep the train tracks safe and accessible. This MMT is one of only 8 in the UK, giving the pupils a rare chance to see behind the scenes of rail maintenance. Access to career information and their pathways enabled students to explore opportunities, whilst embedding the iRail ethos giving industry leaders an opportunity to share innovation.

Teachers ‘Rail Careers Awareness Workshop’:
Running alongside the main iRail event a teacher’s rail industry awareness workshop was held. Teachers are key influencers of young people and are often the first source of careers advice. The short workshop was held to help educate teachers about the 21st century railway and the jobs and careers potentially available to their students.

Schools taking part included:
  • Derby Manufacturing UTC

  • Littleover Community School

  • George Spencer Academy

  • Lees Brook Community Sports College

  • Landau Forte College

  • City of Derby Academy

  • Chellaston Academy

  • Allestree Woodlands School

  • Loughborough High School

  • Stephensons Studio School

  • John Flamsteed School

  • Saint Benedict A Catholic Voluntary Academy

  • Noel-Baker Community School and Language College

Exhibitors list:
  • Resonate (sponsor)

  • Bombardier


  • Derby College

  • East Midlands Trains

  • ESG

  • IET

  • Mott Macdonald

  • Network Rail

  • Porterbrook

  • RAIB

  • Rail Forum East Midlands

  • SNC Lavalin

  • Women in Rail

Bridge the Gap Challenge:

New to this year’s event saw the exhibitors of the day becoming suppliers of the iRail “Bridge the Gap Challenge” materials. Encouraging the teams to engage with industry leaders, challenge their ideas and think logically before making design decisions, which added an extra dimension to the challenge.


The judging panel included Graham Scott, from Resonate, Colin Scott from Bombardier, Nina Atwal from Bombardier, Sarah Reid from Women in Rail, Bethany Forvargue from NOVUS, Paul Bales from RAIB, David Saunders and Allan Jones from the Derby Railway Engineering Society.

The Derby Manufacturing UTC were crowned the overall winners of the day. Creating a solid, fit for purpose structure, working well as a team and managing their budget constraints; all skills that saw them to the winning post, closely followed by last year’s winners Loughborough High School as this year’s runner up.

Learn by Design would like to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to all of the exhibitors, judges, STEM ambassadors, Derby College mentors and all those who supported the site visits for taking the time to inspire our next generation of Rail Leaders. #iRail2018

See all images from the day here.

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