Design Competition for graduates fosters creativity and holistic thinking

Aspiring to foster creativity and holistic design thinking, the Beca Design Competition gives our young graduates the opportunity to collaborate with other disciplines and develop innovative concept designs from the beginning of their careers.

James McLean – a graduate structural engineer came up with the idea. His vision for beginning his career as a graduate was more than just number crunching. “I wanted to get a taste of what it was like to develop concept designs – collaborating with people across the business (not just in my section) to create something innovative” he says.

After just three months at Beca, he proposed a group-wide design competition. Supported by his team and our wider technical delivery group, he worked closely with a steering group of Beca technical experts to turn his idea into reality.

The inaugural competition, held in October last year saw 24 teams from New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Thailand take part. The brief – motivated by the devastation caused in Fiji by Cyclone Winston in 2016, was to ‘design for disaster’, expressed through the design of a deployable wharf, bridge or shelter that could be used in the event of a natural disaster in the Pacific.

Beca resilience and disaster risk reduction specialist Alex Edmonds says the impact that natural disaster can have on communities is significant. “Billions of lives have been affected, and the cost of recovery is monumental” he says. “We asked the teams to think about how their design could help alleviate such an impact, including how it could help to promote a sense of community, maximise community involvement, distribute aid, utilise existing resources and adapt to serve more than its primary purpose.”

A rigorous judging process evaluated each entry on design philosophy, innovation, ease of deployment, functionality and affordability.

The top three designs (Wharftimus Prime, Jigsaw Jetty and The Improved Transitional Metal Shelter) were invited to present at Beca’s annual Technical and Delivery Conference in October last year. Wharftimus Prime – a modular, inflatable floating wharf received first place and also won People’s Choice Award.

Judge Neil Horsfield (General Manager – Structures) said the entries far exceeded their expectations. “This competition has given our young designers a space where they can think outside the box and really experience what it’s like to work in a multi-disciplinary team” he says. “They are now much better equipped to be able to contribute to the design process – to think about a project holistically and develop a viable concept to meet a brief.”

View the Design Competition magazine to see all 24 designs and find out more about the design requirements and judging criteria. Designs are copyright of Beca Group Limited.

For more information about our Design Competition, contact James McLean at design.competition@beca.com.