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Engineering students get a unique view on future career

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Published on 26 April 2019

Sunderland students at Kielder
Sunderland students at Kielder

A rare opportunity was offered to University of Sunderland students when they paid a visit to Kielder Reservoir in Northumberland.

The group of 12 engineering students were given special access to the dam at Kielder by Northumbrian Water so they could learn more about the operational aspects of the facility.

The undergraduates met with staff from the water company who explained the workings of the facility including how the 70m tall valve tower, which is sited in the middle of the Reservoir, controls the flow of water from the dam into the nearby North Tyne.

The students got the opportunity to walk under 52 metres of water via a culvert, a tunnel which runs under the 1.2km dam and Reservoir. They then enjoyed the spectacular views after climbing the 255 steps up the tower to a special viewing platform.

Kielder Reservoir, Northern Europe’s largest man-made lake, was opened in 1982 by The Queen, having been constructed as the centerpiece of the North East’s water resource plan. Linking, via the North Tyne, with an underground transfer network, it can support water supply to the Wear, Derwent and Tees areas when required.

The reservoir cost £167 million to build and is capable of holding 200,000 million litres of water and has a surface area of 1,086 hectares.


Dave Knapton, Acting head of School for Engineering, at the University, said: “The students really appreciated the opportunity to meet with the operations staff and to see the dam at Kielder Reservoir first hand.

“The generation of hydro-electricity is something covered within our programmes but to appreciate the scale of the infrastructure brought this to life. The visit also provided an insight to the professionalism and the ethical responsibility of the engineers at Northumbrian Water to balance the technical and ecological needs of the project.

“This rare opportunity came about as a result of our strong relationship with Northumbrian Water, which includes collaborating on curriculum content and development of degree apprenticeships.”

Engineering student Fahmi Yehia said: “The trip to Kielder has given me some perspective on what engineers are capable of doing.

“I would recommend any future engineering student to take the opportunity and go on trips like this one. It will not only encourage you but also may help you choose what path of engineering you wish to follow.”