Being Bazalgette – a new work experience idea

Joseph Bazalgette by ICE Archive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.Based on a work at

Creative Commons License
Joseph Bazalgette by ICE Archive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at

Today at Think Up, Ed McCann and I had lunch with Mike Chrimes from the Institution of Civil Engineers. The main topic on the menu was how to articulate the value to practising engineers of a knowledge of engineering history. Earlier in the day the two of us were talking about how tech could be used to create engaging simulations of work experience for use in schools.

And then as the main courses arrived the light bulb lit up above my head: why not create a mini module for schools that allows students to take on the role of a famous engineer say for a week. For example, students could spend a week being Bazalgette, chewing over the task of how to transfer vast quantities of poo across London. It would be a fun, playful exercise, but which could be used to develop a range of workplace skills as well as hopefully getting students thinking about what engineers did and do now. There’s more to come on this, but I need to sleep on it…

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  1. Javeria Ali

    I have been going through different articles of yours, and could totally relate myself to them. I am a Civil Engineering Student looking for inspiration. Even I would get inspired by the construction of Mega Structures, like your inspiration was Harrow, not knowing what an engineer would actually do.
    However, with typical theoretical studies, and course work only, I was a bit disappointed with my field of study. I want to add some spice to it. I need some help in formulating a few workshops that can be held in my University, that would really bring out the passion we started our engineering studies with!
    Do you think you could help me out in this? I would be highly grateful if you could take out some time.

    Thank you.

    • Hi Javeria, thanks for your comment. I can relate to what you mean – pure theoretical studies can take the soul out of engineering. I think it is worth remembering that these theoretical tools are a means to another end and not a means in themselves. In other words, these tools help you to do something, but don’t forget about what it is you want to do with them! Here’s a couple of suggestions for things you could try out. I spend quite a lot of my time at Think Up working on the Expedition Workshed website. In the ‘staffroom’ area on there there are a number of workshop templates for use in universities. You could use these as the basis of a workshop to run with your fellow students. The other thing to look at is the Engineer’s Toolbox on Workshed, which aims to give students quick rules of thumb to help design things. It is a good antidote to long calculations. The final thing I would add is to get your sketch book out and start sketching the engineering things you see. Good engineering can be beautiful, and it is important to balance the theory with the beauty. I hope this helps – good luck!

  2. Mary Stevens

    If only transferring vast quantities of poo across London was just a Victorian problem. 55 million tonnes of the raw stuff were discharged into the Thames last year, according to Thames Water:

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