Schools challenged to solve London Airport Dilemma
22nd November 2016

The BlottMatthews 2016/17 Challenge for Year 12 students, A2A (Airport to Airport) with a prize fund of £5000, has been launched.


Imagine a single London airport with six runways and ten terminals. It exists today as Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and City airports; all that is missing is a very high-speed transport link between them.   


Abingdon School has taken up the challenge to design such a link over the next five months with two teams entered in the competition, Team Daedalus and Interport20. Each team consists of six or seven sixth form pupils, all of whom hope to study engineering or a related discipline at university.


The challenge target is a maximum transfer time of 20 minutes between any two 'airports', say Stansted to Heathrow. As well as selecting and explaining the technology to be used, teams must choose routes, address the requirements of the principal civil works necessary and provide basic costs and development schedule.


Speaking about the project Abingdon School sixth former Tom Shaw, said, “Taking part in this challenge is a great opportunity for me to get experience of team work and project planning which will help my future plans to study Biomedical Engineering at university.”


Patrick McCubbin who is also taking part added, “It has been hugely engaging and important to spend time working as a team on the project. Especially significant for me was seeing how cooperation can boost the efficiency with which a certain task (such as choosing a route or a type of train technology) is completed. My role has been to help work on the route and integrate it with existing transport networks - something which I found had applications across many disciplines, for example networks are also important in the biological sciences.”


Such a high speed transport system can enable passengers to check in at their nearest 'airport' and rapidly transfer to their departure terminal; road traffic, particularly around Heathrow, could be reduced significantly; and dedicated terminals for specific destinations, can make more efficient use of airport and aircraft possible. Any new runways required could be built at any of the existing 'airports'. 


Students will apply key engineering disciplines: researching imaginative ground-breaking ideas, testing the technical feasibility by examination and calculation and organising themselves to manage a demanding project successfully.   The step from classroom theory to solving a major real-world challenge gives a hint of how exciting and rewarding engineering can be.


The Challenge requires solutions to be submitted by mid-March with winners announced in mid-April.  


Richard Blott and Charles Matthews, both professional engineers, sponsor the prizes and organise and run the competition with the co-operation of the charity Young Engineers. Their objective is to encourage young women and men to take up careers in professional engineering.


Further information: where the results of the 15/16 Challenge can also be found: M2M (Mission to Mars).

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