On Tuesday 11th December, the four of us left school (with bulging suitcases of course) to make the long trip over to Birmingham University. We were based in the Civil/Mechanical engineering department, which was ideal as we could use the resources there effectively to help us with our project. We were also quite lucky to be near the coffee shop (well, coffee breaks are always important, let’s face it!). On the first day, we made a good start on planning the layout of the training academy, particularly the buildings and the facilities we had found they needed to have. One of our engineers visited us and we ran our ideas past him, and apart from one comment of ‘oh, we’ve made prisons like that’ when referring to our dormitory building, he seemed to like what we’d come up with. He then gave us advice on how to go about beginning a scale drawing of the site. We started this and worked on it for the remainder of the residential, it’s surprising how long it all takes! The engineers visited us again on the Wednesday and Thursday to see how we were getting on, they also brought a sample plan for us to look at which was very helpful. As well as drawing the plan, we managed to make a good start on the written report to accompany it. It was a rather productive 3 days which enabled us to get the biggest part of the whole project pretty much finished. Phew!
We were staying at the Ibis hotel in Birmingham, which we all found very strange with it being so close to home. The rooms had an interesting layout to say the least, but they were clean and had everything we needed (albeit if the shower was just in the corner of the bedroom with only a frosted glass door to protect our modesty!) In the evenings, we went to Shackleton Hall which is where some of the university students have their formal meals etc. Despite missing out on the tradition of the school Christmas lunch, we were still able to tuck into some turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and that old-fashioned favourite, Christmas pud. Yum. Oh and, how could we not mention the paper hats, terrible jokes and little nicknacks of the Christmas cracker?! After enjoying a bit of festive cheer, there was a picture quiz for which everyone was split and mixed up. This was a lovely opportunity to meet some of the other people on the scheme and interact. It was a really good evening which we all thoroughly enjoyed.
Although we worked hard during the residential and got a lot done, we definitely made time to have fun along the way, including capturing that iconic 12:12:12 12/12/12 moment (well, near enough)! However cliché this may sound, we would jump at the chance to do something like this again as we met some lovely people, gained a lot of expert knowledge and just generally had a good time! The whole experience was thoroughly enjoyable and we would certainly recommend it!