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University helps launch search for the next Brunel

Press release issued: 22 November 2005

Budding ‘Brunels’ from across the country are being sought as part of a major celebration of one of the greatest engineers this country has produced.

Budding 'Brunels' from across the country are being sought as part of a major celebration of one of the greatest engineers who ever lived.

Bristol University and New Civil Engineer magazine are re-running the Clifton Bridge design competition won by the famous Victorian engineer in 1831.

Completed in 1864, five years after his death, the Clifton Suspension Bridge serves both as a memorial to Brunel and as a symbol of Bristol across the world.

Next year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and a host of bicentenary events from exhibitions and publishing ventures to firework displays and conferences will be taking place under the banner 'Brunel 200'.

The 2006 bridge design competition, which is endorsed by the Royal Academy of Engineering, will be open to professional engineers, engineering students and schoolchildren.

Professor Colin Taylor, from the Department of Civil Engineering at Bristol University, has been instrumental in re-running the 1831 contest.

He said: "The aim will be to find modern solutions to the problems that faced Brunel and his contemporaries in the 19th century.

"Brunel's creative genius lay in his ability to connect together many far-sighted and supremely ambitious ideas.

"What better way to celebrate the achievements of an engineer of the stature of Brunel than by taking inspiration from one of his greatest challenges?"

Andrew Kelly, director of Brunel 200, said: "Brunel 200 is a celebration of the past and a leap to the future. Clifton Crossing is one of the key events in 2006 as it builds on the genius of Brunel to create new thinking on projects about engineering, architecture and design."

Each group entering the competition will have to design a new bridge, or another type of crossing, to span the gorge using the materials available to present-day engineers.

A shortlist of entries in the form of electronic posters will be put on display for the public to judge next summer and a panel of engineers and public representatives will choose the overall winners.

The materials generated by the competition will be a unique resource that will be used to build a lasting educational legacy.

The contest was announced today (November 22) at the Civils 2005 exhibition held at Olympia and will be formally launched in January next year. The closing date for submissions will be April 9 - Brunel's birthday.

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