Harper Adams University: Industry expert connects with students to explain National Grid pylon work

A connection with the National Grid has seen an industry expert give a practical demonstration of his work with innovative new pylons to Harper Adams students.

David Woodcock, a Senior Project Manager working on the Hinkley Connection Project, ran the educational session on T-pylons – the first new design for an electricity pylon in Great Britain for centuries.

He delivered an engaging presentation to a lecture hall full of land and property management and engineering undergraduates, aimed energising the next generation of engineers and land agents.

The students learned about the construction work National Grid are doing at Hinkley, how potential impacts on landowners are managed, and how National Grid and its contractors work with stakeholders.

Joined by David, the students then made their way outside to complete a practical exercise – stringing miniature T-pylons with rope ‘conductors’.

Commissioned by Harper Adams University lecturer Andrew Black, these models help students understand the potential impacts on land and nearby residents. The hands-on nature of the session reinforced their learning while helping them get expert answers to their questions from David, who explained the practical details of these unique structures.

Located in and around the local area, the project’s T-pylons have even inspired one budding young engineer to write her dissertation on best practice based on their rollout. She is due to meet the Hinkley Connection Project team soon to discover more about the work that is ongoing locally.

Harper Adams University lecturer Andrew Black said: “When I saw the T-pylon emerge as the winning design to replace the traditional pylon, I began thinking about how to involve students in our work on the subject. I was able to get some funding through NCOP for this – the National Collaborative Outreach Programme.

“With this funding, I approached an engineering company to create the pylons, which are scale models of the real thing. I have a grassed area on campus where I set the parts out, and then students have to get to work to build them. We also use them at on-Campus Open Days – they really catch the eye.

“My whole ethos in teaching is about bringing things to life – students will always remember doing something like this – and when we were able to welcome Dave to campus and draw on his experience, that took things to the next level!”

David Woodcock, Senior Project Manager on the Hinkley Connection Project, added: “It was a fantastic opportunity for me to share the work we are doing and engage with engineers and land agents of the future!”