Network Rail joins forces with Primary Engineer to help identify engineers in the making: Primary Engineer Competition Gatwick Airport-11

Wednesday 14 Aug 2019

Network Rail joins forces with Primary Engineer to help identify engineers in the making

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Network Rail has become a national partner for the “If you were an engineer, what would you do?” competition to help encourage students from schools across the UK to become the engineering professionals of the future. 

Alongside Gatwick Airport and Facebook, Network Rail’s partnership with the “If you were an engineer, what would you do competition” was announced at a special launch event, with an interactive display at the South Terminal of Gatwick Airport.

The “If you were an engineer, what would you do?” competition, known as the Leaders Award, is run by Primary Engineer and links both primary and secondary schools across the UK with engineering professionals. The competition celebrates the ingenuity of pupils from 3 to 19 and all entries are graded by engineering professionals, with winning designs selected by university and industry-led judging panels.

Gatwick Airport will host a three-week long exhibition from August 13th, 2019 showcasing 11 of the inspirational prototypes designed by primary and secondary pupils from across the country. The prototypes are based on entries from 2018’s “If you were an engineer, what would you do?” competition. Inventions such as the ‘Bicycle Sucker’ - which was showcased at the launch event. Designed by six-year-old Maisie, a year two school pupil, the ‘Bicycle Sucker’ sucks  water up from a well or river using the mechanics of the bike power and helps people living in water-deprived areas to store and transport liquids over long distances. 

The ‘Wall of Fame’ exhibition is for Gatwick’s 125,000 plus daily visitors to vote for their favourite creation. The prototypes have been selected and brought to life by engineering teams from partner universities involved in the competition. Each design has been selected from shortlisted or winning entries, all of which are designed to make the world a better place through engineering. In the academic year 2018/19, the competition attracted over 49,000 entries from all over the UK, of which 50% of the participants were female.

The Gatwick Airport Exhibition celebrates the collaboration between Facebook, Network Rail and Gatwick Airport as national partners for “If you were an engineer, what would you do?” competition and aims  to provide young people from all backgrounds with the opportunity to consider a future career in engineering. The UK Government says that over 200,000 new engineers are required per year to meet the demands of modern society.

Andrew Haines, chief executive at Network Rail said: “We’re encouraging more people into engineering and that’s why we’re getting involved in initiatives that bring the sector to life and help stimulate young people’s creativity and inquisitiveness. The Primary Engineer’s “If you were an engineer, what would you do?” competition will reach tens of thousands of young people over the year and we’re proud to be a part of it.  We are looking for the next generation of innovators and engineers to join us and help us to deliver a reliable service for our passengers. I cannot wait to see the ideas that get put forward this year.”

Dr. Susan Scurlock, MBE, founder of Primary Engineer said: “This exhibition at one of the most important travel hubs in the UK is testament to the commitment of our partner organisations who rely on a variety of engineering professionals to keep ahead of the game. Each year I am astounded by the designs by pupils, some as young as three as they realise that they can be part of a career that can literally shape the future of the world.”

Antony Yates, Head of Engineering, Gatwick Airport, said: “Inspiring the next generation of engineers and a new pipeline of talent is vital for Gatwick Airport and thousands of other businesses up and down the country.  This competition brings engineering to life for tens of thousands of children and we are proud to support it and the creativity it generates.   In parallel we are also working with Primary Engineer and Secondary Engineer on a three-year programme in twenty local schools to make careers in engineering interesting to all, irrespective of gender or socio-economic background.”

Rachel Burton, Facebook’s HR director of engineering, EMEA said: “We are committed to investing in a future workforce that is as diverse as the communities we serve. As part of that commitment, Facebook London has joined as a national sponsor for Primary Engineer’s “If you were an engineer, what would you do?” competition to encourage more young people from diverse backgrounds to pursue a career in technology and engineering. We are very excited to see the ideas students will put forward and can’t wait to help them bring those ideas to life in partnership with universities and other industry sponsors. Addressing the skills and diversity gap in engineering is a long-term process, but we continue to work with government, industry leaders, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions to find effective and impactful solutions.”

To enter the competition schools can visit

To vote


Notes to Editors

In the picture: Susan Scurlock, Founder of Primary Engineer, Andy Doherty, Chief Rail Technology Officer of Network Rail, Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive at Gatwick Airport, Antony Yates, Head of Engineering, Gatwick Airport, Rachel Burton, Facebook HR Director of Engineering and Chris Rochester, UK Director, Primary Engineer, attending an exhibition of protypes from the ‘If you were an Engineer, what would you do’ competition, with the winners Douglas McCartney, Krystyna Marshall and Maisie Crook at Gatwick Airport, South Terminal. Photo credit: Matt Alexander/PA Wire

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