National institution

3 July 2017


In the UK the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has been running a tunnelling exhibition. It follows on the heels of an exhibition for bridges, which was rumoured to have attracted 15,000 visitors. The challenge given to the engineers of the British Tunnelling Society by the institution was to promote the event enough to beat this goal by the time the exhibit closes in November.


The ICE states: “ICE invites you to visit the hidden world of underground engineering. From the worms that inspired famous engineer Brunel to the mechanical giants burrowing under our modern cities, the art of tunnelling has come a long way. This latest free ICE exhibition takes you on a historical journey that shows you some of the longest, deepest and most advanced tunnels in the world. The exhibition runs for six months at ICE’s Infrastructure Learning Hub at One Great George Street in central London.”

Entry is free and the exhibition is open 10am-5pm Monday to Friday (except public holidays). You can fi nd the ICE at One Great George Street, Westminster, London, SW1P 3AA. Just walk in and ask the receptionist to point you in the right direction. Groups of 10 or more need to book in advance, for this please contact debra.francis@ice.org.uk Among the activities are:

■ Virtual reality tunnel exploration

■ Drive a tunnel boring machine simulator

■ Feel the teeth from an actual boring machine

■ Timeline that steps you through history

■ Interactive displays and quizzes - what kind of engineer would you be?

■ Build-your-own Lego challenge kits

■ Lots of models, photos and fact sheets

The venerable institution – which turns 200 next year – is looking for ways to promote the civil engineering profession. A task it is suited for, as civil engineering was not really a recognised profession before its existence, with much of the professional engineering association related to military endeavour. As far as tunnelling in the UK goes, the second series of the BBC’s 15 Billion Pound Railway has just been released. The fi rst series of the Crossrail documentary saw a surge of interest in the tunnelling industry from the general public. Perhaps the ICE will fi nd its work done for it, at least as far as tunnelling is concerned.

This month I am interested in how tunnelling is being promoted to the public in other countries around the world, and what its perception is. So please drop me an email and let me know.