Porterbrook has confirmed that it will sponsor the 2019 iRail Grand Challenge, the competition designed to encourage young people to consider a future in rail.
Organised by the Rail Forum Midlands, iRail sees Year 9 students in schools from across both East and West Midlands participate in a number of half day, fun, engineering challenges. The winners of the regional heats are then invited to participate in the iRail Grand Challenge; which in 2018 saw four schools submit bids to run a fictitious rail franchise, in response to an invitation to tender designed by Porterbrook graduates.
The teams participating in the iRail Grand Challenge are judged by a panel drawn from both public and private sectors; with engineering and operating expertise. The judges for 2019 will be Porterbook CEO, Mary Grant; Neil Bamford, Engineering Director, West Midlands Trains; Mike Noakes, Head of Rail, Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; and Neil Robertson, CEO, National Skills Academy for Rail.
Mary Grant, CEO Porterbrook, said: “We are delighted to support iRail in 2019 as part of our commitment to developing the next generation of rail industry professionals. I am also very pleased that Mike Noakes, Neil Bamford and Neil Robertson have agreed to serve with me on this year’s judging panel. Their encouragement and support for the young people of today will help us and industry deliver the leaders we need for the railway of tomorrow.”
Last year’s finalists were Loughborough High School, Derby Manufacturing UTC, Aston University Engineering Academy and Holte School, Birmingham with Aston University Engineering Academy taking home the trophy.
The 2018 winners of the iRail Grand Challenge, Aston University Engineering Academy, were invited to the House of Commons to be presented with an award and £1,000 prize money (to spend on teaching equipment) by Lilian Greenwood MP, Chair of the Transport Select Committee.