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Flood barrier scheme wins young engineer prize

A cheap and efficient flood barrier designed to protect bungalows has won the top prize at the Society of Public Health Engineers (SoPHE) Young Engineers Awards.

The project designed by Amelia Paszkowski, Brittany Harris and Ross Boulton, all from BuroHappold Engineering, consists of a simple plastic and rubber barrier which can be erected by one person in 45 minutes to protect a 10x6m house from 0.5m of flood water.

As well as being an effective solution, the design also costs four times less than the current conventional systems, weighs 40 times less, and can be stored, erected and taken down by the homeowner without having to rely on the input and resources of the local authorities.

The challenge presented by the awards was to design an anti-flooding system to protect a bungalow from flooding, a problem that faces 2 million UK homes every year and costs the economy upwards of £1.4bn. The system also had to cost under £500 and be small enough for the average homeowner to store, as well as easy enough to set up for elderly homeowners to use.

As well as meeting the design specifications, the winning team were commended for their commitment to sustainability, both in terms of the materials and the community impact: All of the components are re-usable, recycled, and bio-degradable, whilst the ease of setting up and managing the system encourages communities to be self-reliant and co-operative in setting up flood defences. This lessens the burden on external agencies, and ensures that the community is engaged in the process and able to build flood management skills themselves.

Edward Clarke of the SoPHE Education Committee said “We received an exceptionally high standard of entries this year, and were able to award a highly commended award alongside the main prizes, which is an encouraging sign for the industry. 

“This competition gives young engineers a hands-on chance to create a project that directly impacts the health of our society, and tackles some of the most pressing issues that affect people in the communities around them. Engineering makes the modern world work, and demonstrating that is key to attracting the next generation of young minds.”

The judges were very impressed with the winners’ analysis, which led to an excellent and well considered final concept. Thought was given to flexibility and implementation with each element weighing less than an ironing board and able to be stored in a footprint less than a bath tub. Rachael Porter received a high commendation, the judges thought that Rachael demonstrated an excellent appreciation of the brief and provided a very innovative solution.

The finalists each received a fantastic afternoon on a sunseeker motoryacht for two.