2013 Heathrow Primary School Challenge wraps up


By Heathrow

Published 24th November 2013

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A record 51 schools and over 3,300 local pupils have helped make 2013 the most successful year yet for Heathrow’s Primary School Challenge programme.

Now in its 7th year, this year’s Challenge saw thousands of Year 6 students over the last six weeks build their own “mini-Terminal 2s” using basic geometric principles and rods made out of recycled paper.

The Challenge is designed to develop creativity while introducing students of Heathrow’s five surrounding boroughs to careers in construction and engineering at an early age.

Time restrictions, team work and co-ordinating construction are just a few of the challenges the children are faced with when taking part in the activity.

Jeremy King, a chartered civil engineer, has been running similar programmes for over 10 years and describes the challenge as, “a great opportunity for the students to practice their future life and work skills such as planning, teamwork and communication”.

After an introduction to 3-D shapes and basic engineering principles, the students assemble in groups of six and sketch the design of their terminal.

Using newspaper sticks made with glue and a “stixx” machine, the students are then given the green light to create the rods they need and join them together in a bid to erect their terminal before the buzzer dings.

Sundeep Sangha, Heathrow’s Economic Development Manager, talks about the huge contribution Heathrow makes to local employment.

“Supporting over 100,000 jobs in the surrounding area, we have a responsibility to ensure the workforce of tomorrow is aware of the wide range of career opportunities at the airport and is inspired to strive for them,” – Sundeep Sangha, Heathrow Economic Development Manager.

The Heathrow Primary School Challenge was launched to broaden local students’ awareness of employment opportunities at Heathrow. The new Terminal 2: The Queen’s Terminal construction, a project due for building completion in November and having supported over 35,000 United Kingdom jobs, served as the inspiration for this year’s event challenge.

Heathrow Airport congratulates Hull, which has today been announced as the UK’s City of Culture for 2017. Hull played a unique role in the creation of Slipstream, a major new sculpture commissioned by Heathrow for the new Terminal 2.

Slipstream, created by British artist Richard Wilson, was manufactured in Hull by Commercial Systems International. The sculpture is 70 meters long, weighs 77 tonnes and is made up of 23 separate sections, all of which were transported piece by piece from Hull to Heathrow this summer.

The result is a flowing, twisting aluminium form; an imagined flight path of a Zivko Edge 540 stunt plane.

The sculpture will carve through the open space of Terminal 2’s Covered Court as a stunt plane might and will be seen by over 20 million passengers a year when the terminal opens to the public from 4 June 2014. It will be curated by public arts agency Futurecity.

Slipstream in T2.

As City of Culture 2017, Hull will host its proposed cultural calendar of 25 major festivals, 12 big name artist residencies and more than 1,500 events, and will receive funding from the government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sports and the Department for Education.

Selected by an independent panel lead by Phil Redmond, and announced today by Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Maria Miller, Hull will follow other winning cities such as Liverpool and Londonderry.

Behind T2’s Slipstream as it comes to life…

Heathrow was proud to see nine of its engineering scheme apprentices graduate from their advanced level course at the end of September, including Engineering Apprentice of the Year winner Marc Bowdler.

Bowdler, an ex-security officer, and his fellow graduates can all now be found across across the airport working on everything from airfield engineering and water services to hold baggage screen and track transit systems across Terminals 2 and 3.

Rounding out the class of September 2013 was Oliver Barski, Chris Bamford, Iain Grierson, Dan Haines, Ben Slater, Adam Smith, Sam Aragues and Chris Prout (all pictured).

Steve Chambers, Operations Director, Engineering and Baggage, said: “The Apprentice Scheme is a vital part of our business. For more than 36 years we have successfully developed many of our current Engineering Technicians and management team for the airport.”

First launched in 1977, Heathrow’s engineering apprenticeship scheme is a four year course training candidates to become electrical, mechanical or electrical technicians. Heathrow funds 10 new apprentices each year into its four year programme, costing around £200,000 each.

After completion, 97 per cent of apprentices are offered a permanent position at Heathrow, with 50 per cent of the total Engineering workforce being former apprentices.

Over 72 per cent of all ex-apprentices are still working at Heathrow today and many of the ambitious team have chosen to further their education in specialist engineering fields.

Recruitment for the next four years will begin in Spring 2014. Find out more information about the programme and how to apply here: http://www.heathrowairport.com/about-us/heathrow-jobs/apprenticeships

TV presenter and model Katie Piper provided first-hand inspiration to Heathrow’s up and coming stars at the 8th annual Heathrow Academy graduation ceremony last Thursday.

Piper, 30, talked about her inspiring journey to re-build her life after being the brutal victim of an acid attack in 2008 that left her requiring over 40 surgical procedures and years to recover.

Heathrow CEO Colin Matthews also attended and spoke to the graduates about the role they can play in supporting the airport as it continuously strives to improve the travel experience for passengers.

We would like to congratulate all the graduates on their achievements! Award winners for the evening were:

  • Iwona Jerzykowska– Outstanding Commitment

  • Charlotte Graves & Gian Khuttan – Learner Special Recognition (Overcoming Challenges)

  • Ferechta Khawrin Fatih – Learner Special Recognition (Outstanding Quality)

  • Ferechta Khawrin Faith– Employee Special Recognition (Overcoming Challenges)

  • Ines da Silva – Mentor Special Recognition (Most Supportive)


British Airways’ first aircraft to fly to Chengdu, China, is sporting a huge grin just days before it takes to the skies.

The Boeing 777-200 has been specially painted to look like a smiling Giant Panda to mark the start of their new thrice weekly service to Chengdu – the home of the Giant Panda – on September 22.

Chengdu is the fourth British Airways route to China and the first new destination for the airline to the country, since flights were launched to Shanghai in 2005.

British Airways will be the only UK carrier to offer a direct service between Changdu Shuangliu International Airport and London Heathrow.

Keith Williams, British Airways’ chief executive, said, “Chengdu is a fascinating venue for leisure travellers, and is known around the world for its famous giant pandas and excellent fiery Sichuan cuisine.”

“We are confident that the new route between Chengdu and London will prove popular with customers travelling between the two major economic hubs.” – Keith Williams, British Airways.

Reflecting the Chinese belief that eight is an auspicious number, the flight number for the service from Chengdu to London is BA88 and BA89 from London to Chengdu.

The route will be served by a four-cabin Beoing 777 with First, Club World (business class), World Traveller Plus (premium economy) and World Traveller(economy).British Airways also welcomed their first A380 and first Dreamliner to Heathrow earlier this year.

We’re proud to announce that Heathrow has won Gold overnight in four categories at the prestigious 2013 International Green Apple Awards for Environmental Best Practice and Sustainable Development.

Heathrow Airport’s combined achievements in this field saw us crowned UK Champion of Champions at the internationally recognised awards run by the Green Organisation.

The awards were for the innovative ‘Pods’ (driverless electric vehicles providing transport between T5 and the terminal’s Business Car Park), carbon reduction, renewable energy and sustainable transport.

The areas recognised are just part of Heathrow’s continued commitment to enhancing the local, regional and national economic and social benefits of the airport, including working with over 320 business partners to establish sustainable polices and procedures.

Heathrow Sustainability Director Matt Gorman said; “We are committed to running Heathrow responsibly and delighted to have been recognised for our achievements so far. We will continue to work closely with stakeholders, employees and passengers to develop innovative solutions and operational procedures to build on this success.”

“The Green Apple Environment Awards were launched in 1994 by The Green Organisation and have become well established as one of the most popular environmental campaigns in the world” (http://www.thegreenorganisation.info).

We’ve been awarded a few accolades recently, find out more here:

From Jackie Chan to cross stitch, yourHeathrow caught up with two of our female engineers to hear about the ‘serious and straight’, and the ‘weird and wonderful’, parts of their jobs to help celebrate Tomorrow’s Engineers Week (November 4-8).

Both Helena and Katie were recruited from the Engineering Apprenticeship Scheme, which was established in 1977 and is a four year qualification which allows students to enter the workforce via an alternative route to university studies.


What first interested you in engineering?

At school I loved the practical lessons, and I was never really drawn to a traditional desk job. I was attracted to woodwork, metal work or things like textiles and art so I knew I would be happiest in a manual work environment. The one thing I loved at school was working back stage on the school productions in the set construction and stage lighting teams…I guess this is where my interest for electrics stemmed from!

Tell us about your current role at Heathrow…

I joined the Engineering Apprenticeship Scheme at Heathrow in September 1997 and after completing my four years, I was placed in the electronics department. Currently I still in the electronics (Specialist Systems) team as a Technician Engineer and we are responsible for everything from CCTV to X-Ray machines.

What are the skills required for your job?

Excellent patience and good analytical skills…

If someone wanted to follow a similar career path, what would your advice be?

My school were very pro University and didn’t advise of other options post A-levels. Travelling down the apprenticeship route was hidden and there was little support or alternative options, besides University. The other obvious one would be to stay in school and take science, maths and design technology and then pick the route that best suits you and your personality.

Tell us the strangest, most interesting or most exciting thing you’ve experience on the job?

The strangest thing that sticks in my mind is balancing on top of a ladder trying to reset a FIDS screen whilst Britney Spears and her entourage came past in T1…. Very surreal!

Spare time…The most un-engineering thing you can think of – Cross stitch! I also love gardening, especially growing my own vegetables.


Why were you interested in a career in engineering?

I was bought up next to Heathrow and always wanted to work here. From a very young age I had an interest in the construction and function of things, so engineering seemed an obvious career path to take. I did my work experience with BAA Engineering and from here I knew I wanted to apply for the Engineering Apprenticeship Scheme at Heathrow when I was 16.

Tell us about your job at Heathrow…

Including the 4 year apprenticeship scheme, I have worked at Heathrow for 17 years. During my apprenticeship I decided to specialise in electronics and I started my job as a fully qualified technician. This team are responsible for the HEART (Heathrow Engineering Automation & Remote Telemetry) and MAID (Machine Address Identification) systems. HEART is used by the Airport Duty Engineers to control and monitor all the major airport systems such as the high voltage networks, the fire main and potable water, and MAID is the airport wide access control system used to maintain the ID card readers and electronic door equipment across all of Heathrow’s terminals.

What skills do you use in your job?

The ability to work out a problem logically and efficiently is an important skill in my job as we are quite a small team managing thousands of technical assets across Heathrow. Becoming familiar with new technology, working well under pressure and communicating effectively are also strong skills required on a day to day basis.

Strangest day on the job…

Meeting Jackie Chan in T1 departures! I was walking back to base with my team when we saw Jackie Chan getting into his car. I walked over to him and asked for his autograph, which was a success. As I went to leave, my dress got caught on his car door…

Spare time?

I love reading and learning about astronomy is one of my passions. I used to be part of a band which produced electronic music…I played the analogue synthesizer!

For more information on Heathrow engineering apprenticeships please go to http://www.heathrowairport.com/about-us/heathrow-jobs/apprenticeships.


By Heathrow

Published 3rd November 2013