Students from a Wolverhampton school got a chance to design their very own Metro extension when they took part in a construction project led by graduates at the Midland Metro Alliance.
The year 10 and 12 pupils of West Midlands University Technical College (WMUTC) demonstrated their technical and design skills during the ten-week programme, which culminated with presentations and exhibitions of their work.
Staff from the Midland Metro Alliance judged the groups on various aspects of their design, including the route, which ran anywhere between St George’s Metro stop and Wolverhampton Railway Station, sustainability and cost considerations. It is the second time that Midland Metro Alliance graduates have delivered the programme to WMUTC, having led a successful project with students last year.
Simon Maxfield, Vice Principal for WMUTC, said: “Our students have thoroughly enjoyed taking part in this project. It has been very successful in helping them to develop their creative and professional skills. Employer projects such as this are a fantastic way for the students to tackle real-life situations, developing in them the kind of understanding and skills they will need in the workplace. We are grateful to the Midland Metro Alliance for giving our students this opportunity for a second year.”
Grace Hayward, Assistant Project Manager on the Wolverhampton City Centre Metro extension, who helped lead the project, added: “It was a great pleasure to work with the students, who all came up with some fantastic ideas. This project has been really beneficial to these young people, helping inspire them to consider a career in construction and engineering.”
Award trophies were presented to the students in a number of categories, including Best Design, Best Planned and Most Sustainable. The overall prize in the year 10 group went to a team called Wolverhampton Tram Network, who impressed the judges with their extensive route design, while the year 12 prize went to JAQ Rail for showing a particular interest in safety. The teams won a trip to Alton Towers, provided by Midland Metro Alliance partner, Colas Rail UK, which included a workshop about theme park design and construction, giving further insight into the careers available within the construction and engineering industries.
Rose Rees, Midland Metro Alliance Head of Engagement and Skills, said: “It was inspiring to see how much the students learned about the different factors involved in constructing a tramway and they developed some great ideas for extending the network in Wolverhampton. It was tough for the judges to choose a winner due to the high quality of the presentations which showed how well the students engaged during their sessions. A huge congratulations to [the winner].”
The course is just one of the ways the Midland Metro Alliance, which is delivering a ten-year expansion of the West Midlands Metro on behalf of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), is supporting the college. It recently helped refurbish one of the classrooms with a design that illustrates the aspirational construction career opportunities available within the transport and construction sectors.
The project comes as the Midland Metro Alliance prepares to complete street scene improvement works for the Wolverhampton City Centre Metro extension in Pipers Row, which is scheduled to finish later this summer.
The extension forms part of the wider £150m Wolverhampton Interchange to regenerate the city’s transport hub and provide an attractive gateway to those entering the city by rail, bus or Metro services.
When operational, after construction of the new railway station is complete in 2020, trams will serve two additional Metro stops; one at the city’s bus station on Pipers Row and one at Wolverhampton Railway Station, allowing easy interchange with other modes of public transport.