Students saw behind the scenes at a control centre that keeps Northampton’s traffic flowing. The Sixth Formers visited Netcom to research and design a traffic management scheme for this year’s Engineering Education project.
They were given the task by MGWSP, the contractors responsible for maintaining more than 4,000 kilometres of roads across the county. The project focuses on designing and implementing safety measures around Kingswood school. If the end results are deemed appropriate by the county council, then their proposals for a crossing may be implemented in the future.
The team, Maria Garvey, Niamh Bailey, Liam Schulz-O’Connell and Mitch Bellamy are being mentored by Mr Andrew Avallone and Mr Shane Collins from MGWSP, and overseen by teacher Mr Barrett.
The students have interviewed the school’s head-teacher, conducted traffic surveys and learned more about the technical specifications and construction of different types of road crossings. Just before Christmas they took part in a three-day intensive residential at Loughborough meeting teams from other schools and comparing projects.
Mr Barrett said: ‘Our students have never had the opportunity to work with civil engineers before and this is a very achievable project with a broad spectrum of skills.’
Most recently our students visited Netcom in Northampton, where planners and surveillance systems keep the traffic running smoothly by monitoring vehicle queues and adjusting phasing of traffic lights to optimise journey times. The organisation manages 122 traffic signalled junctions and 247 pedestrian crossings and deals with accidents, incidents and congestion.
The group learned about planning, designing and locating safety features, from the legislation and permits required through to practical issues such as installing coloured and grooved paving to help the visually impaired and wheelchair users cross safely.
Maria said: ‘We learned new programs like Autocad to produce detailed plans and have gone through the protocols of all the different crossings and picked which is the most suitable. We are working well together as a team. Niamh and I will be doing 3D modelling whereas Mitch and Liam are focusing more on the computer work. We have just got to draw up the plans, do the 3D model and write our report.’
Mr Collins said: ‘The students have developed their research skills, and have learned about what we do in highways and civil engineering which is different to the mechanical engineering that many of the other groups are doing. They are also using design packages such as Autocad and learning the processes that we go through at work. The design of traffic flow is more complex than many people think. I work on the design side and there are others who specialise on the maintenance and traffic control areas so it really is a multi-faceted industry.’