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Students complete industry challenge

Throughout the autumn term, students at UTC Reading have been working on an industry-based challenge set by Network Rail, FileMaker UK and Sytel Reply.

Throughout the autumn term, students have been working on an industry-based challenge set by Network Rail, FileMaker UK and Sytel Reply.

Working in teams, students had to research, design and build a hypothetical level crossing for the local area.

The 14-18 year old students had to consider disruptions to both the train service and road users both during construction and when the crossing is in operation, plus the safety of maintenance staff when they carry out regular checks on the line.


2D and 3D CAD software and a 3D printer were used to create their level crossing and teams had to demonstrate how their custom designed database worked and the coding they created to control their level crossing works on a Hornby train set.

Five finalist teams were shortlisted to present their project to a panel of industry judges.

Judges said that the winning team – Brunel 4 – stood out because of the safety considerations and advanced use of coding to control the level crossing system. To celebrate their win, students have been invited to enjoy a trip on Network Rail’s helicopter to see how it used by the organisation to check the extensive railway network.

Patrick Hallgate, route managing director for the Western Route at Network Rail presented the prizes. He said: “I was really impressed with the quality of work from the students; every single one of them did a fantastic job. Network Rail managers worked closely with the students during the project and they were impressed with the levels of enthusiasm and innovation shown.

“Safety is of paramount concern to us here at Network Rail and it was heartening to see the future generation putting this at the centre of their project planning. I wish them all good luck with the rest of their studies and hope to welcome them on to the railway in the future. “

Thomas Stanley, 18, project manager of Brunel 4 said: “I’ve really enjoyed the experience of being project manager and working closely with my team to ensure all elements of the task were completed on time. I think working on this project, especially the presentation skills I’ve gained, with help me in the future.” 

Head over to our Facebook page to see more photos from the project.

  • Active Learning
  • Microsoft
  • Cisco
  • University of Reading
  • Network Rail
  • Peter Brett