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Girls’ prize-winning invention may prevent unnecessary deaths

March 17th, 2015


A terrific trio of budding engineers have won a prize for their clever solution to improve safety, and potentially save lives, at Network Rail’s level crossings.

Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls pupils Lisa, 19, Stephanie, 17, and Georgiana, 17, spent six months working on their project brief, set by Network Rail, every Friday after school.

The team displayed a model of their solution and presented to judges, members of the public and a group of award sponsors during the Engineering Education Scheme Wales (EESW) Awards and Assessment Day at Newport’s Celtic Manor Hotel on Monday.

In total, 69 schools competed at the annual contest.

As well as being nominated for Best Overall Team Performance, Most Effective Application of IT and Best Working Model, the girls won the prize for Best Overall Written Report.

Every year numerous people are killed at crossings despite the safety measures that are in place.

Anne Kavanagh, Head of Physics at HMSG, said: “Currently CCTV is used, ’24-7′, at some known black spots and British Transport Police also do occasional checks from their vans.

“The girls’ invention uses a Raspberry Pi mini computer that has been programmed to record a set number of seconds before and after the crossing is traversed only when the safety barriers are in position.

“The clever part of the solution is that Network Rail will capture, and therefore be able to analyse, solely potentially unsafe behaviour that has activated the camera through breaking an invisible infrared beam when the barriers are in position.

“With evidence of what happened beforehand, Network Rail may begin to understand why people take such unwise risks, and possibly be in a position to prevent future unnecessary deaths.” One of the judges was so impressed with the girls’ work, he told Mrs Kavanagh theirs was the best report he had read during his nine years as an assessor for EESW.

“This was praise indeed, especially since Lisa and Stephanie’s first language is Cantonese,” Anne added.

“Network Rail intends implementing the girls’ design, particularly if they can include their intention to enable the device to send a text message with time, date and GPS location immediately the safety of the track is breached.

“All three are well on the way to realising their ambition to study engineering at university and already have a successful, real life project behind them.”

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