Students discover the rewards of career in engineering at new industry hub

Students from a Staffordshire high school have been discovering first-hand how civil engineers are helping to transform a 30-acre site into a job boosting industrial park.

Work is well underway at Liberty Park, Lichfield – a £38 million development of industrial and warehouse accommodation which could create up to 1,100 jobs.

Staffordshire County Council is working with Liberty Property Trust and its partner Stoford Developments on the project.

The development is providing an opportunity for young people in the area to see how the different elements of engineering contribute to the overall development. Students from nearby Nether Stowe High School visited the site on two occasions.

Sixth-formers looked at examples of project management and how mathematics is used in construction design, in addition to taking part in a workshop setting exercise using surveying equipment.

Engineers also gave presentations to a group of year ten students as part of their careers day. The students also took part in a bridge building exercise set out by the Institute of Civil Engineers.  A similar programme took place during the construction phase of i54 South Staffordshire and more school visits to Liberty Park, Lichfield, are planned as the development gathers pace.

At the beginning of this month, work to build the access bridge onto the site neared completion as the beams to form the decking were put into place across the West Coast mainline. Ten 33-tonne concrete beams flanked by two 40-tonne beams were lifted into place.

The former bridge over the railway was demolished overnight on Christmas Day 2014. In the meantime, engineers have been working hard to build the foundations to the bridge on either side of the railway.

Staffordshire County Council’s learning and skills leader Ben Adams said: “The Liberty Park, Lichfield, development is playing an important part in our ongoing economic growth and the county council is supporting by building the essential infrastructure, including the rail bridge.

“As at i54 South Staffordshire, the development provides us with an opportunity to inform students from nearby schools how rewarding a career in engineering can be. Site development involves an eye for design, creativity, detail and mathematics. By talking to engineers and experiencing a day on the development site, students can experience first-hand how their work can make a real difference. We want them to know there is a broad range of options open to them in the future – from apprenticeships to training and further education in this sector.”

Liberty Park, Lichfield, has consent to deliver approximately 441,000 sq ft of industrial and warehouse accommodation. Work on the infrastructure is on target to be completed by October and immediate turnkey packages are available for potential occupiers.

Andrew Blevins, managing director of developer Liberty Property Trust said: “Encouraging a new generation of civil engineers is important for the future success of the commercial property and construction industry. We were delighted to have the opportunity to welcome local students to our exciting development at Liberty Park, Lichfield, and I’m sure they will have learned a lot from the experience.”

Tony Nash, director of Birmingham-based Stoford, said: “It was good to see the students getting hands-on experience on a genuine construction site. Civil engineering offers excellent career opportunities for young people and I’m sure we were able to persuade our visitors that it’s one they should seriously consider.”

Liberty Park, Lichfield, has been backed by £4million funding through the Government’s Growth Deal and was the first such project to get underway in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. The new bridge should be completed by late autumn this year. The development also involves improvements to Burton Old Road which will provide access to the site, enabling the development of approximately 450,000 sq ft of employment space.

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