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On 13th March 2018, The Derby Conference Centre played host to iRail, a showcase event designed to educate students from across the region, about the great heritage of the rail industry in the city of Derby, and the technological and engineering opportunities available within rail. This was a free event which took place between 9am and 3pm.
It was fitting that the event should take place at The Derby Conference Centre, as when it was originally built, it was a dedicated training facility for the rail industry. Designed by William H Hamlyn, the principal architect of the London Midland & Scottish Railway, it was opened in 1938 and was the first residential rail training centre in the UK, capable of housing up to 50 railway operatives and signallers at a time.
As part of the event, with the aim of bringing regional schools together, the schools all visited different rail company’s sites, including Bombardier, East Midlands Trains and Resonate. Then on the day, students were invited to take part in a competition to provide the best solution to a railway engineering problem. The competition taught students to work together in teams, to research answers together and to gain confidence when networking with the various organisations to discover the best solution to their set challenge.
The event was also an opportunity for rail companies such as Network rail, Bombardier, Women in Rail and Resonate to exhibit and network with each other, as well as the students, and to give advice to the students during the competition.
iRail, Innovative Rail, is a successful initiative from Learn by Design who seek to engage students with science and technology in practical ways. At iRail they did this by demonstrating to students the importance of infrastructure within modern Britain and the many career opportunities available to them in engineering and specifically within the rail industry. Last year, the same organisation held an event at the NEC called The Big Bang, which worked to engage students with practical science. Learn by Design do this with interactive workshops, fun challenges and stalls with representatives from within the railway industry.
Reflecting upon the success of the event, Rebecca Adams, The Derby Conference Centre’s Sales and Marketing Executive, said:
“I think it is vitally important that Derby, a city which was built upon the success of engineering and the growth of the rail industry, continues to invest in and to inspire its young people. It is crucial that the industries of today develop and this can only be done by engaging with the engineers of tomorrow. The feedback we received from the event has been fantastic! We at The Derby Conference Centre are proud to host this event, in this building, to celebrate the continued success of the rail industry and its continued contribution to the local economy.”
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