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11th Infrastructure Building Competition: An Exciting Contest for Aspiring Engineers
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"The competition provides all-rounded training for students, and they know where their responsibilities lie."

Mar 2014

What can you do with a pile of wooden sticks and glue? Over 700 secondary school students spent months designing the most efficient models which could hold the greatest loads with such simple materials for this year’s Infrastructure Building Competition (IBC). On March 15, participants gathered at Kowloonbay International Trade & Exhibition Centre to showcase and test their proud work in the competition final. Inevitably, some models prevailed and some fell. Nonetheless, all students were winners because they learnt about basic engineering principles, time planning and cooperation from this invaluable experience.

Jointly organised by IVE Engineering, the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Construction Association, the competition has become an exciting event among secondary school students. In the beginning, only a handful of schools took part. But it has grown to attract more than 150 teams from over 90 schools in Hong Kong and Macau. The competition aims to arouse the interest of secondary students in construction engineering, which is surely a cradle of future engineers in Hong Kong.

In its 11th year of running, the organisers decided to add new challenges to the students. “In this past ten years, the models were supported at both ends. Many students were familiar with the rule, so we tried something new. In the final round, one end of the model is supported, but the other end isn’t. Students have to take the loading capacity of every beam into careful consideration and need to modify their designs. It involves mechanics, physics and structural engineering,” said Leung Wai-bun, acting senior lecturer at IVE’s Department of Construction.

IBC shows students the practical uses of their knowledge learnt in science and physics lessons. “I have always been interested in physics and wanted to find a way to apply my knowledge,” said Chan Ho-chun, a form five student of Chan Shu Kui Memorial School. “The experience makes me realise how useful physics can be.”

For a successful engineer, academic knowledge is never a sole element one should possess; attitude is equally important. Having been the school’s IBC adviser for nine years, Mr. Law Chak sang, teacher of Ng Wah Catholic Secondary School, always encouraged his students to join the contest as he witnesses a new maturity in participating students every year. “The competition provides all-rounded training for students, and they know where their responsibilities lie,” said Mr. Law. His team was crowned the champion this year.

It is not difficult to imagine that IBC inspires students’ interest in mechanics and engineering, but some students and teachers also discover the competition presents a rare opportunity to apply principles in different fields, such as economics and product design, in real life. “Students have to learn how to create a model which can compete against others’ with limited resources within a period of time,” said Cedric Lam Shek-chung, a design and applied technology teacher at Ying Wa College.

IBC came to a perfect close this year, but the competition will continue its mission to provoke students’ intellectual curiosity, and provide an occasion for students to produce something that they are proud of. Hopefully, the competition can also play a part in nurturing a new generation of construction professionals including engineers and architects.

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