As a response to students’ wishes to hear more from the civil engineering and related industry, the School organised a programme of a dozen extra-curricular lectures, delivered after the end of the usual teaching day, on Tuesday evenings.

Jenny Illingsworth, Industrial Liaison Manager, was impressed at the response from the School’s industrial contacts. Having originally planned 3 or 4 talks a term, the enthusiasm with which colleagues in business answered the invitation to speak has meant the programme mushroomed into a weekly event. The 30-50-strong turnout each week has been helped by the student society, CivSoc, arranging to meet regularly after the lecture for a drink, meal, or activity (and by sending tweets about the great snacks and giveaways some of the speakers have brought with them).

The Beale series for 2013/14 started off with Neil Kelsall of Arup speaking about the mulitidisciplinary nature of engineering, using a recent project to create a new rail link between Kings Cross and the East Coast Main Line as an example: fitting everything into existing tunnels was one of the biggest challenges, not to mention the spaghetti of electrical cabling and the plethora of industry-specific jargon!

The lectures moved to give students examples and case studies on structural projects and the implication of the engineer’s choices; foundation engineering projects; Birmingham’s Midland Metro extension; campus developments and the new university library; airport designs; structural materials; more railway project cases; and an outline of the all-important financial, risk and commercial environment of civil engineering.

Not only did the Beale series invite speakers, a side-effect of working with members of the industry has been that the university has been privileged to host a number of regional institutional events. The I Struct E’s Young Members’ Panel held its Make and Break competition in February: three teams of Birmingham students took part but, alas, the competition was won by a group of graduates! The ICE also held its Communications Competition in March and a number of talks – most notably the ever-popular History of ICE (and other things).

Students have found the lectures especially useful for appreciating the breadth of issues a civil engineer deals with on a daily basis – our industry is nothing if not varied! But these lectures have also given them a unique opportunity to connect with members of industry: each lecturer is invited to talk about their company as well as the engineering subject matter, so students have been able to find out about the range of possibilities open to graduates.

Beale lectures will continue during the 2014/15 academic year and to offer a talk, or to be connected with Civil Engineering students for any other opportunities please contact Jenny Illingsworth, Industrial Liaison manager, on 0121 414 4165 or email at

Beale-Lecture2 Mar14
Beale-Lecture1 Mar14