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Saving Lives – Headmaster’s Blog – Wednesday 8th February 2017

February 8, 2017

Saving lives

We have just hosted our third lecture in our annual Spring Term series. This was led by Konrad Grossey, a Chartered Civil Engineer, and he gave a fascinating insight into engineering by drawing on his thirty years of experience with many different projects around the world. He is currently engaged with the Qatar motorway programme which will see a two-way ten-lane road plus an additional cycle route! As a part of his talk, Mr Grossey claimed that civil engineers had saved more lives than doctors since the Nineteenth century – and this got me thinking.

The evidence which Mr Grossey pointed to were the projects from the 1840s onwards in the UK which were geared towards improving public health: water supplies and sewerage disposal in particular. Fresh drinking water and waste disposal certainly enabled a greater emphasis on hygiene and have undoubtedly had a massive impact on enhancing life expectancy and improving the quality of our lives. Moreover, much of the talk also featured the work that engineers are doing to meet the expected 30% increase in the world population by the years 2050. Apparently 7 out of every 10 people will be living in cities by then (compared to 2 in 10 back in 1900) and this clearly requires significant infrastructure but also attempts to mitigate the effects of resource depletion such as fossil fuels and raw materials. Essential, and fascinating, eco projects are underway in many countries and here at Ballard our Eco Committee is researching what more we can do to help in our small corner of the world.

I certainly don’t want to take issue with the invaluable work which has been done globally by engineers of all types. (I have a brother-in-law who is a Civil Engineer in Australia and in Hong Kong and a father who was a mechanical engineer in his younger years. Both of them have played their part in improving the quality of life for the rest of us.) The work of the medical profession is, of course, invaluable, too, and our next lecture (on the 2nd March) will focus on opportunities within the NHS. I would like, however, to put in a word for education!

As Mr Grossey pointed out, if you want to be a civil engineer then you will almost certainly have to study Maths and Science to a high level – with Design Technology, Art, Geography and English also very important, too. Even my subject, History, got a positive mention as much of the work of engineers is involved in preserving historical buildings and sites and managing these to fit in with modern demands.

Education in its many forms, in the home and in schools (etc.), has also been a life saver. Engineers and doctors would not be where they are without it! Clearly it is an holistic approach to improving the quality of life which is paramount and I was struck by Mr Grossey’s emphasis on the importance of teamwork in his profession (involving designer, surveyor, planner, communicators and engineers of every kind). We apparently need 450,000 more engineers in the UK by 2020 and as many as two and a half million more worldwide. Education needs to continue to do all it can to promote this and also to dispel the gender inequality in this profession – but that’s another story!

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

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Ballard School is an independent, private co-educational school in New Milton, Hampshire, providing an outstanding level of education for nursery to GCSE. With small class sizes and proven academic excellence, we strive to nurture the academic potential of all students. Learn more about our academic programmes, pastoral care, facilities and school ethos by visiting our website or by requesting a prospectus here

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