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Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction

Transforming infrastructure through smarter information

Dr Didem Gürdür Broo, CSIC Research Associate, champions the education of young people in data science and was delighted to be asked to be part of a virtual Digital Twins workshop for Class of Your Own secondary school students held this month (July). 

Class of Your Own (COYO) was launched as a Social Business in 2009 to provide STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths)-focused creative curriculum and built environment student engagement programmes.  Created by land surveyor Alison Watson, the Design, Engineer Construct! (DEC) learning programme includes fully-accredited qualifications and is delivered in schools and colleges across the UK and internationally, and is supported by industry leaders, professional bodies and universities. 

“My involvement came from a chat I had with a former colleague at the University of Cambridge who is now at Bentley Systems, Maria Gkovedarou, about how important it is to educate the current and future workforce on data science and digital twins. I have a huge respect for and big expectations of our future generations because they are growing up in a different world and have access to tools and resources that I believe can change the future.”  

Bentley Systems supports the DEC programme and hosted the first ever Future Infrastructure Challenge: DEC Hyperloop in 2019, which required sixth form students, aged 16 to 18, from four schools in the UK to conceptualise a design of a hyperloop transport system and stations for Singapore. A number of students who have been working on their hyperloop infrastructure projects for 18 months were invited to attend a week of intensive workshops held this summer to complete their programme of study,  and be the first in the world to gain a brand new DEC qualification for young people aged 16 plus. Alison Watson, CEO and Founder of COYO, invited Didem to lead the Digital Twins workshop, which was supported by Alison and Maria. 

“Preparing to communicate data science and Digital Twins to a younger audience during the hour-long workshop presented the greatest challenge,” said Didem. “Describing the concepts in a simplified way without using academic jargon was a useful exercise. I did not know if the students would engage with my teaching or not, but their confidence and ability to ask questions and engage with discussions made everything easy. The rewarding part of it was to work with so many bright minds and to initiate some thinking out-of-the-box process with them. It was a very interactive way of teaching and the students engaged with the topic, asked me really important questions and answered my questions with honesty – they did not hesitate to criticise the whole concept and its applications.  

“They immediately saw the value of using Digital Twins and asked me some questions about how and what they should think about. I enjoyed the whole process and felt really hopeful after the workshop. I am very thankful for this opportunity – I would be happy to do it again.” 

Class of Your Own launches the Level 3 ‘Design Engineer Construct! Future Infrastructure’ qualification this autumn and once again, the organisation has the support of significant leaders.  Alison Watson said: “COYO might be a small organisation, but our mission is as big as ever; to educate the Future of Construction, the incredible digital talent that sits in classrooms around the world. Great champions like Didem inspire our students and give genuine context to their studies. I’m thrilled she agreed to get involved and I look forward to next time.” 



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