As excitement builds towards Friday night’s Opening Ceremony to the London 2012 Olympics, Nigel Fine, the head of the Institution of Engineering and Technology is looking forward to one thing being on show above and beyond the athletes and live sheep: engineering.
The chief executive of the body set up to promote careers in engineering said the Games are a perfect example of what can be achieved through science, technology, engineering and maths skills, and hopes it will inspire many young people to take up a career in the field.
“Tonight is going to be a showcase event at the Olympic Park, with infrastructure that four billion people will see. It’s not just the physical nature of the buildings, the roads and so on around the Park, but it’s the lights, the sounds, this is the first digital Games – it’s the engineers making sure the signals are delivered through HDTV, for example,” he said.
“There’s a real opportunity to get more people interested in engineering,” he said.
His comments follow a recent poll of Britons that showed a third believed the Olympics had helped them appreciate the importance of civil engineering to society.
The survey, commissioned by the Institution of Civil Engineers, showed over half of the public were no longer just thinking about “bridges” when they thought of what civil engineers built, with 45pc saying it is a “respected” profession.
Civil engineers have played a vital role in bringing the Olympic Park to life, including designing and building the venues and facilities, building 30 new bridges, restoring 8.35km of waterways, and building 1.8km of sewer tunnels underneath the site.
They also oversaw the demolition of over 200 buildings, the removal of 52 electricity pylons, the cleaning of more than 2m tonnes of soil and the protection of wildlife and plant species.
ICE president Richard Coackley said: “Our day-to-day lives depend on the infrastructure around us that is designed, built and maintained by civil engineers – from roads, railways and bridges to energy, water and waste networks. It forms the backbone of society and the economy. But unfortunately it is often only when things go wrong that the work of civil engineers is thrust into the media spotlight.
“The London 2012 Games have changed this – showcasing and celebrating the work of these often ‘unsung heroes’ while at the same time helping the public understand more about what civil engineers do and what a diverse and exciting career it is.
“If anything could excite and inspire young people to pursue civil engineering as a career it’s the Olympic and Paralympic Games – a true feat of engineering in every sense.”