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Budding Brunels rise to the challenge

Press release issued: 12 April 2006

Over 600 aspiring Brunels from across the world have accepted a challenge to design a new crossing for the Avon Gorge.

Over 600 aspiring Brunels from across the world have accepted a challenge to design a new crossing for the Avon Gorge.

The competition, open to professional engineers and architects, students and schoolchildren, was launched in January by Bristol University and New Civil Engineer magazine. The challenge is a re-run of the original design competition won by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1831. The winners will be announced at a gala dinner in Bristol on July 6.

This year is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Brunel. The competition is one of the many bicentenary events taking place across the region under the banner ‘Brunel 200’.

The prize for the winning professional engineer will be £5,000 plus a specially commissioned commemorative plaque. For both the student winner and the winning school there will be a prize of £1,000 and a plaque. There will also be second and third prizes in each category.

The brief for the 2006 competition was based on the Victorian original. It has been modified to challenge modern engineers to draw up innovative, practical and economic designs utilising the technologies, materials and practices available today.

Professor Colin Taylor, from the Department of Civil Engineering at Bristol University, has been instrumental in running the contest. He said: “We are thrilled with the number of entries received from all round the world. It seems that Brunel’s ability to connect together many far-sighted and supremely ambitious ideas has inspired a whole new generation of engineers to take on one of his greatest challenges.”

A key requirement of the competition, which is endorsed by the Royal Academy of Engineering, is that professionals’ and students’ entries must communicate their design-thinking to young people.

The entries will form the basis of a lasting educational legacy that Bristol University and the At-Bristol science centre intend to develop with the help of funding from the EPSRC.

The competition winners will be chosen by an independent panel of eminent judges including Adam Hart-Davis – renowned television presenter, engineering enthusiast and expert on the work of Brunel – and Michel Virolgeux – designer of the award-winning Millau viaduct in France.

The judges will take into account the views of the public, who will have a chance to comment on the shortlisted entries that will be displayed at At-Bristol in June.

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