Grant Ritchie, Dundee and Angus College
In all the many events we run in the College from prize-givings to fashion shows, one that gives me tremendous pleasure is the Creative Spaces competition.
I’m not sure there are many events that bring together scores of school pupils from all over our region from Inverkeithing to Pitlochry, and everywhere in between, mix them up with a bunch of architects and builders, set them a difficult design challenge and then expect them to produce a concept, build a model and do a ‘live’ presentation all in one short day.
The last one had 88 pupils from 22 schools putting in a tremendous effort to go back to their schools with the prizes and the glory.
I love the competition partly perhaps because I was in on the start of it 15 years ago. Doug Binnie had gathered a group of people together as part of Tayside Construction Week to look at ways of attracting young people to careers in architecture, design and construction. Doug and I had just done presentations in The Space at our Kingsway Campus and that beautiful building with dance and movement at the heart of its design became the home for the Creative Spaces challenge.
The project brings many partners together, local authorities – we had 3 Provosts at the last one – employers, suppliers, college staff, Doug and his team at Nicoll Russell Studios, and the last two have had Government attention in the shape of Ministerial Visits from Fiona Hyslop MSP and Maree Todd MSP.
The whole event is exciting, rewarding and inspirational. This year one of our HND Construction students was on hand to help the pupils. He had been part of a school team competing in the Challenge eight years ago and he is off to university next year to study Civil Engineering – a direct link between the experience of the competition and a career choice.
The economy needs pupils of both sexes to be looking at careers in design, architecture and construction, to recognise that there are fantastic, creative careers to be had in those fields and to aspire to go on and build the future.
If Creative Spaces lights a spark then that is a job well done.