Research into bridge suicide prevention barriers wins student engineer top award

Research into bridge suicide prevention barriers wins student engineer top award

Katie O’Neill

A paper on different approaches to bridge suicide prevention barriers has led to Katie O’Neill being named as the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Scotland’s Emerging Engineer 2023.

Katie, a fourth-year student studying Civil Engineering with Architecture at the University of Glasgow, looked at various case studies of bridges which have been historically been used as sites for suicide and how deaths could be prevented. She also designed a potential solution for the Forth Road Bridge.

Commenting on winning the competition, designed to promote excellence in the originality and communication of civil engineering ideas and research, Katie said: “I am delighted and very proud to have won this award.

“Engineers have a social responsibility to protect public safety, health, and welfare. This is critical for the design of bridges, several of which have historically been used as sites for suicide by distressed individuals.

“Prevention of suicidal behaviour remains a complex and imperfect art - one of the few strategies that has been proven as effective is reducing the availability of means. So by designing tall bridges that cannot be jumped from, engineers can reduce suicides.”

Runner-up was Maxime Van Crombrugge, Final Year MEng Civil and Environmental Engineering Student at the University of Aberdeen, for his paper: ‘Use of Laterite and Rice Husk Ash as Affordable and Alternative Construction Materials in Concrete Roof Tiles’.

Third place went to Matthew Munro, an engineer with Arup, who wrote ‘Embodied Carbon Classification Scheme for Concrete’.

ICE Scotland director Ben Westland, added: “A huge congratulations to Katie who submitted an excellent paper and presentation highlighting a real public safety issue and demonstrating through ingenious new and retrofit engineering solutions, the number of people taking their lives on bridges could be reduced.

“We were delighted with the quality of this year’s entries and it is heartening to see the future of engineering in such safe hands.”

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