Frank Morton returns to Birmingham

On the 17 February 2015 the hottest event on the Chemical Engineering calendar landed in Birmingham as the Frank Morton Sports Day came to town.

Frank Morton was a Professor of Chemical Engineering at the Department in Birmingham, before (dangerously some might say) switching to the Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (today the University of Manchester) to become the first Head of their newly formed Department of Chemical Engineering in 1956. In 1961, as an avid lover of sport, he facilitated a football match between the two departments of Manchester and Birmingham. This is considered the beginning of the sporting and careers event that now encompasses departments throughout the UK and has in recent years extended its reach into Ireland.

Nearly 3,000 Chemical Engineering students made their way by plane, bus and even on foot to the Barclaycard Arena (formerly the NIA) for the Careers Fair and Opening Ceremony.  This year’s event saw 28 universities in attendance, with a special mention to the University of Limerick who were participating in their maiden Frank Morton. What they lacked in numbers they definitely made up for in noise!

21 organisations had set-up in the vast expanse of the Barclaycard Arena ready for 3 hours of networking between excited graduates and even more excited students. Companies included CB&I, GSK, Mondelez, PepsiCo and educational social enterprise TeachFirst alongside Platinum Sponsor, ABB.

This year’s event had a keen charity focus with Teenage Cancer Trust and the English Federation of Disability Sport also joining us. The Frank Morton Raffle, with the first prize of a limited edition #FrankMorton2015 engraved iPad Air, raised just over £400.

Another addition to this year’s Careers Fair was a photo booth, complete with more props than a Hollywood set and a queue longer than a Black Friday store opening. Needless to say that it was a big hit!

Then, after what can only be described as the greatest traffic jam Birmingham has ever seen with 55 coaches gridlocked outside the Barclaycard Arena, it was time for the niceties to be put aside and for students to lock horns at 19 sporting events located at 9 venues across the city.  The relay race was conducted upon the very track where a few days later, Mo Farah broke the indoor two-mile record.

This year saw the exciting addition of Quidditch to the Frank Morton schedule with Birmingham utilising home field advantage to win this inaugural tournament. The main event of Frank Morton 2015 however was the football tournament, with nearly 60 teams entered and over 600 students competing. After nearly 5 hours of intense competition, Birmingham again exploited their knowledge of the local conditions to emerge victorious, with the Birmingham 1st team defeating a valiant 2nd team in an engrossing final but unfortunately tournament rules dictated no university could place twice, so 2nd place went the University of Leeds.

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With the sports over and the scores in, it was time for students to return to the Barclaycard Arena in order to refuel and prepare for the evening’s festivities, while the overall tournament standings were collated in a secretive backroom in the depths of the Arena. Live music was performed with local bands Dr Dee and The Dopamines and Little Dynamite taking the stage by storm. Then it was time for the final presentations and Closing Ceremony hosted by comedian Mike McLean. 

After placing first in 11 sports, Birmingham was crowned undisputed champion with 60 points, the University of Strathclyde finishing a gallant second on 24 points and the University of Manchester finishing in third with 17 points. Victory was especially sweet for Birmingham as host and rival Strathclyde in the 2014 event painfully beat us by a single point, and so bragging rights return to the West Midlands for a record 11 time.

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With the victors announced (and enough booing and cheering to rival the terraces at Villa Park) the bar crawl began. Streams of students in all manner of fancy dress flocked to the vast watering holes of Broad Street before ending the night with one giant Chemical Engineering rave on the multiple dance floors of Gatecrasher.

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The Frank Morton Organising Committee would like to say a big thank you to all the students who volunteered as stewards; the sports, competitions, networking and herding could not have been done without them. Also a big thank you must go to Carnival RAG, who expertly guided 2,700 mildly intoxicated chemical engineers around Broad Street and without them the bar crawl would not have happened. Finally, a massive thank you must go to Professor Mark Simmons and the School of Chemical Engineering for all their help with the organisation of the event.

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If you’d like to see more photographic evidence of the Frank Morton Sports Day go to our Facebook page.