Gabriel Alhucema-Brown, a Graduate Structural Engineer in Aberdeen, is passionate about promoting engineering, and the industry as a whole, to the younger generation. As a result, he is an active member of ICE (Institution of Civil Engineers) which sees him act as an ambassador for both STEM-related subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and structural engineering.
This passion recently took Gabriel to Clapham Manor Primary School, South West London where he helped deliver an engineering workshop targeted at primary two and primary seven pupils. He said: “I’ve previously been involved with bridge building activities through our partnership with Kincorth Academy so this was a good follow-up for me, but this time involving younger pupils south of the border.”
Gabriel worked with the youngest pupils to build the tallest building possible using spaghetti and marshmallows – the spaghetti worked as a column or beam, whilst the marshmallows tied the spaghetti together. When discussing structural engineering during the building process, he related it directly to buildings in London, such as The Shard and Big Ben, meaning the youngsters could instantly relate to the workshop. Meanwhile, the eldest pupils were tasked with building paper bridges which saw the successful team support 42 small books on their bridge, spanning 400mm between two tables.
Gabriel added: “Both workshops were so well received – with the books they could see their bridge deforming and elements breaking as it was loaded so this built a lot of suspense and got them excited about the task. The teachers were very grateful and one sent us a follow-up design that a primary two child had brought into class, showing how they would build their structure next time so the workshops obviously had a real impact. The teachers now even use spaghetti and marshmallows during the pupils’ ‘explore and learn’ time when they are allowed to play with any resources in the class.
“When I was at school in Dumbarton, I always appreciated it when people came to visit and it’s those moments that I remember the most. I hope that we were able to portray STEM and structural engineering in a positive, and fun, light, perhaps prompting them to consider studying STEM subjects in the future.”