Getting your hands dirty (Day 25)

The Big Rig

The Big Rig – Lakes College West Cumbria

Earlier this year, IChemE was disappointed by the decision of  the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) to remove the examination and grading of practicals from science A levels.

A levels and AS qualifications in England are currently assessed using a combination of written examinations – marked by independent exam boards – plus written and other assessments, such as laboratory tasks, marked by teachers.

Non exam-based assessments currently contribute between 20-30 per cent of marks in biology, physics and chemistry A levels. In the future, Ofqual is proposing that A levels are graded solely on written examinations marked by exam boards.

Against this backdrop, it’s always nice to see science and engineering being brought to life in a practical way. And in Cumbria, England, there’s a super-sized project currently underway to build a liquid evaporator at Lakes College West Cumbria, in partnership with The Big Rig.

This event is designed to inspire students to take up a career at Sellafield Ltd and to use their engineering expertise to help tackle the challenge of nuclear reprocessing.

Over the past week, a gang of chemical, mechanical, electrical and civil engineers and physicists have been set the challenge of building and commissioning a liquid evaporator unit in a Big Rig. The students come from all over the UK including the University of Birmingham, University of Central Lancashire, University of Glasgow, University of Leeds, University of Manchester and the University of Strathclyde.

The event is a hands-on taster of a career in the nuclear industry and, for many students, is their first experience of working with real materials and equipment.

If you want to find out more about the project and get the latest news on the student’s progress, visit their Facebook page.

Congratulations to everyone involved.