Petrofac News 1700X397
30 August 2011

Building bridges across the world!

As a leading EPC contractor, Petrofac recently turned its expertise to bridge building, supporting two school-run competitions; one in Aberdeen and the other in Sharjah.

In Aberdeen, Petrofac held the 11th annual bridge building competition for pupils of Kincorth Academy. The long standing education-industry partnership between Kincorth Academy and Petrofac once more saw students eagerly engaged in the popular engineering and construction challenge. Under the supervision of the school’s technical department, students used a computer-based design package, their engineering skills and a limited supply of materials provided by Petrofac to construct balsa wood bridges over the course of the school term. Judging took place at Petrofac’s Bridge View office, where a specialist panel critiqued the design, presentation and build quality of each project. During the evaluation process each bridge was subjected to an increasing load test by adding weights to a bucket suspended from the bridge.

Extending its education-industry programme Petrofac also introduced the bridge building challenge to students aged nine at Sharjah English School. The students were challenged to design and build a structure using a limited supply of materials, with instructions that each bridge had to span a distance of 300 millimetres. Two classes formed ten project teams, each with an elected project manager having overall responsibility for the design and build. Each team had to present their design explaining why it was selected and highlighting challenges incurred during the project construction phase. The bridge designs were then analysed and judged by the head of Petrofac’s structural department, Indrajit Chowdary, and one of his senior engineers, PK Som. Each bridge was dynamically stress tested to the point of collapse thus revealing the maximum sustained load.

Congratulations go to all the students who participated in this education-industry initiative and a special mention to the winning project team from Kincorth Academy named ‘Bridge Smashers’ and the team from Sharjah English School named ‘AIR’ whose bridge designs sustained a maximum load of 60kg and 36kg respectively.

Mark Denham, completions director in Sharjah and founder of this initiative, commented: “The project, primarily focused on providing insight for students into bridge design, also exposes them to an essential learning experience that has synergies relating to a real working project environment, having to deliver a solution based on time and cost constraints.”

Drew Russell, director, Petrofac Offshore Projects & Operations added: “This competition is just one of the education-industry initiatives supported by Petrofac. Although it is a technical challenge, the bridge building project is fun and rewarding for all those involved, and we are delighted to be able to support local schools with this innovative approach to learning.”