See London's Plastics In A Whole Different Light, Thanks To This Eye-Opening Engineering Competition

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See London's Plastics In A Whole Different Light, Thanks To This Eye-Opening Engineering Competition

This is a sponsored article on behalf of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

"Engineering geogrids have shown us that, if plastics are produced in the right form... plastics can be our saviour for one thousand years."

- Rui Jian Tee, Graduate Tunnel Engineer and Pitch 200 Finalist for London and the South East.

Nowadays, plastics have a bit of a bad rep. And deservedly so: plastic pollution is the most widespread issue affecting the marine environment, as well as having implications for human health and climate change. But one Graduate Tunnel Engineer is here to show how plastics can be used as a force for good, as he represents London and the South East in a major engineering competition.

A geogrid in action. Photo credit: Shutterstock/wolfness72.

Rui Jian Tee emerged victorious in the London and South East heat of Pitch 200. Led by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), this competition challenges institution members to use their creativity to communicate a feat or principle of civil engineering in a clear and accessible way. And the tricky bit? They've got just 200 seconds in which to do so.

Tee won his heat for his pitch on Geogrid: a synthetic product that, among other applications, improves the longevity of roads when placed over the underlying soil. The Geogrid interlocks soil particles and prevents disturbances that lead to cracks and ruttings on the road. To illustrate the concept, Tee uses the example of billiard balls staggered on a pool rack. Just as the rack confines the balls, so too does the Geogrid confine soil particles. You can see the full pitch here:

Now, Tee is bringing his passion for appropriately-applied plastics to the Pitch 200 Final. Here, he faces off against finalists from Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and the other English regions who present pitches on geotechnics, water management, and soil gradation — to name but a few. And he's going to need your help...

Owning to coronavirus, this year's final takes place entirely online. Click here to vote for Tee, ICE's London and South East finalist, and don't forget to check out the other entries while you're there. This year's crop includes the use of ping pong balls, toilet roll and even a Victoria sponge, to make complex principles and feats of civil engineering accessible to the general public.

Whoever wins, the competition's guaranteed to give you a deeper understanding of how the infrastructure we use every day really works, and how civil engineers are constantly innovating to make it better. Who knows, you might even come away from it with a passion for plastics...

Voting for Pitch 200 2020 is now open. Voting closes at midnight on Wednesday 30 September.

Last Updated 11 September 2020