By LAWRENCE TULLOCH
Everyone at the Mid Yell Junior High School is cock-a-hoop because pupils have scooped up the first four places in a Scotland-wide bridge building competition for S1 to S3 pupils working in pairs.
Schools from Baltasound to Lockerbie and from Tarbert to Aberdeen took part. Other Shetland schools to participate were Baltasound, Aith and the Anderson High School.
The challenge was a civil engineering one, to build a bridge strong enough to carry the loads crossing it but to use as little material as possible and at the lowest possible cost. All the contestants used the same computer software and the designs were planned and constructed with graphics.
In all there were some 220 designs and the winning design was a box construction, which looked a bit like two coat hangers, one above and one below. It was the work of Jack Lawson and Jamie Kennerley. They began with a design that looked like Sydney Harbour Bridge, but that was not up to the job so the up side down arch was added underneath.
Fergus Tonner and Billy Kay were in second place, Vladik Kulizhka and Callum Lindsey took third and Logan Spence and Joseph Edmondson were in fourth spot. Top prize was £150 of Amazon vouchers for each of the two boys, while runners up got £100 each, third £80 each and fourth £30 each.
The money came from the sponsors, multi-national companies Jacobs and ARUP, and from the Institution of Civil Engineers in Scotland. The competition has its roots in America. The US Military Academy at West Point trains the armed forces to build infrastructure, especially abroad, when America is involved in conflict.
It is open to all American citizens and the idea is to stimulate young people to consider a career in civil engineering. The Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE) in Scotland asked if the Americans would welcome a similar competition to be run in Scotland with the end result that it has become an annual event that is growing year by year.
John McPartlin, the education and careers co-ordinator of ICE, represented the sponsors and presented the certificates and prizes at a special assembly in the school on Thursday morning of last week.
Headmaster Mark Lawson welcomed Mr McPartlin and the visiting party. He congratulated the pupils on their achievements and expressed the pride that the whole school felt on this marvellous occasion.
Mr McPartlin was full of praise too for the boys and he explained the background to the competition. He said that the sponsors would feel that it was money well spent if it encouraged young folk to become civil engineers. He presented the four pairs of boys with their vouchers and a prize of £500 to the school.
Technical teacher Alistair Scott played a key role in the school’s success; he had encouraged the boys but said that it was down to the hard work and the time that they had put into it. The boys had invested a lot of their own time and effort to get this great result.
Will the prize winners from the Mid Yell School become civil engineers? The jury is still out but when asked the question there was no great burst of enthusiasm, however they had enjoyed the challenge and the prize money was mightily attractive.
When asked by Mr McPartlin they all answered very candidly, they are not yet ready to commit to any particular career but they would, very much, like to see Mr McPartlin again next year with another handful of vouchers.