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Morgan Sindall's 'Grow Your Own Home' challenge is "Best STEM event of the year"

John Homer from Morgan Sindall pictured with the winning team from Brentwood County High School

Morgan Sindall plc hosted an Essex County Council Education and Industry STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) programme ‘Grow Your Own Home’ challenge, for 25 students from schools across Essex.

The event was held as part of an on-going commitment to raise aspirations and provide insight into careers in the construction industry. Pupils from Years 7, 8 and 9 at Billericay, Brentwood and Gilberd Schools were challenged to design and create models of sustainable homes, using renewable materials, with each team mentored by one of Morgan Sindall’s fully qualified STEM Ambassadors.

The six month programme culminated in a STEM summit, where teams from each of the schools presented their models, which were judged by a team of experts within Morgan Sindall, including John Homer, managing director of Morgan Sindall’s Construction East business.

This special event was held at Hadleigh Olympic Park, where Morgan Sindall recently completed a £5.1 million project to construct ‘The Hub’ - a new business unit and visitor centre. The winning team, from Brentwood County High School, won an adventure day at Hadleigh Olympic Park.

Fiona Marriage, STEM Skills Manager at Essex County Council, said: “I would like to thank our colleagues at Morgan Sindall who worked so hard to make the competition such a success. It was a great opportunity for the students and really opened their eyes to the range of exciting career opportunities within the construction / structural engineering sectors. We are already working with the company to plan next year’s competition and to open it up to more schools!”

John Homer said: “The students really immersed themselves in the STEM challenge. Inspiring the next generation to think about sustainable development and design is something we’re passionate about at Morgan Sindall, so we were delighted to be able to host this initiative in partnership with Essex County Council and engage with youngsters from across Essex. Hosting the judging ceremony at Hadleigh Olympic Park, a project which we have recently completed, added a real-world dimension to the event, which was great.

“Morgan Sindall is committed to sourcing local materials and labour whenever possible, so we encouraged the students to do the same when creating their designs. They really embraced this aspect of the challenge and came up with concepts that incorporated locally-sourced materials such as thatch and timber, and prioritised the importance of future-proofing the design.”
The ultimate aim of the project was to change the students’ view of construction and promote sustainable ideas in order to create buildings that link seamlessly with the environment around them.

The teams’ designs needed to be adaptable to weather and liveable, if they were created to full scale, but also needed to be unique – testing the resilience of the structures’ flood defences at the judging summit made for an exciting finale to the challenge, as the model houses were submerged in a paddling pool.

Lisa Pigeon, the team leader of the winning group from Brentwood County High School commented: “We have had so much fun working on this project and we are all very sad that it is over! As a group we have learnt so much and we will be considering environmental issues much more after this project.

“As a group, we cannot re-enter next year but we are keen to be involved and pass on our skills to support the next BCHS team! We worked every Wednesday after school for 3 months and enjoyed every minute of it.”

Morgan Sindall has recently completed work on the UK’s greenest commercial building, The Enterprise Centre for the University of East Anglia. The £11.6 million scheme has achieved record-breaking sustainability credentials. It is one of the first buildings to target both BREEAM Outstanding and Passivhaus accreditation. It exemplifies the use of low embodied carbon materials and is designed to achieve a 100-year life span.