Crossrail: Digital Railway

Sponsor: Young Crossrail

The Crossrail Team at the Tunneling and Underground Construction Academy. From left to right: Steph, Josh, Jordan, Lizzy, Sean.

The Crossrail Team at the Tunneling and Underground Construction Academy. From left to right: Steph, Sean, Jordan, Lizzy, Josh.

Sponsor Liaison: Lauren Hillier and Sally Speed
Student Team: Elizabeth Fitch
Joshua Friscia
Jordan Kovar
Sean McCarthy
Stephanie Rivard
Abstract: The goal of this project was to develop the Build Your Own Digital Railway Programme for Crossrail, for delivery in schools. This program was designed and developed by interviewing Crossrail staff, STEM education experts, teachers, and ambassadors to determine the most appropriate program criteria. It is delivered using five handbooks to guide teachers, mentors, and students. The program is mapped to two Cambridge Nationals qualifications, along with an additional vocational qualification that extends the program from ten to twelve weeks. Students will choose to follow the Engineering or Creative Strand to obtain the respective qualification while collaborating to build their own digital railway, a transit system designed to help users through their daily routine.

‘Build Your Own Digital Railway’ Programme Final Report

Teacher Handbook

Teacher Resource Sheet

Construction Guide

Mentor Handbook

Student Resources Handbook

Crossrail 2015 Final Presentation

Executive Summary

There is an increasing deficit of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) proficient workers in the United Kingdom, as the demand for them is increasing while the number of students pursuing STEM careers and degrees has not kept pace. Various organizations are aware of this issue, and they have been making efforts to help bridge the gap and get more students involved in engineering to create a pipeline of STEM graduates who will go on to work in engineering professions. Crossrail, currently the largest public works project in the UK, has developed the Young Crossrail Programme and teamed up with six partner schools along the Crossrail route to increase awareness about this construction project and get students interested in engineering.

The Young Crossrail Programme has resources and activities for Key Stage 3, but lacks resources for Key Stages 4 and 5. The Build Your Own Digital Railway Programme has been developed for Young Crossrail as a way of engaging older students with STEM and allowing them to complete associated vocational qualifications while working on the project. The program will also teach students valuable engineering, collaboration, business, and employability skills.
Project Objectives
To develop our program, we conducted several interviews that helped us determine the design criteria for the program and its implementation. These interviews were conducted with Crossrail staff, STEM education experts, teachers, and ambassadors. These interviews set the framework for the program, allowing us to set the goals and program objectives. After developing a preliminary program curriculum, we consulted our stakeholders and finalized the program and any supplemental documentation. These last minute consultations led to a finished project ready to be delivered in schools at the Key Stage 4 and 5 level.


Program Structure
We developed the Build Your Own Digital Railway Programme to allow for delivery of an open-ended, hands-on project, while emphasizing the importance of collaboration and data management. The 10-week program is broken down into seven modules. Modules 1-5 were designed to deliver the Cambridge Nationals qualifications in Engineering Design and Creative iMedia. Modules 0 and 00 bookend the delivery guide, so the 10-week program can extend to twelve weeks for students interested in receiving an additional qualification in Employability Skills. The program begins with a project brief for the teachers, mentors, and students, which outlines the requirements and goals of the Digital Railway project. Teachers will deliver the project while adhering to and assessing the learning outcomes for each module during the ten to twelve weeks. During the program, it is our hope that each team of four students can be assigned a mentor to act as a resource guide and professional assistant for the project’s delivery. We have determined that an active and responsive mentor who is committed to his/her job and the team’s success will provide a healthy mentor-mentee relationship. Teams will come together for a final presentation day to present their findings and projects, along with an assessment of their collaboration skills.


The program will be delivered using five handbooks: the Teacher Delivery Handbook, Teacher STEM Resource Guide, Construction Guide, Mentor Handbook, and Student Resource Guide. Each of the handbooks will help in some form to guide the implementation of the program within a school. The Teacher Delivery Handbook has been designed to allow for adaptation of similar curriculums that teachers have already mapped out. The handbook is a guide for the delivery of five modules, each mapped to our learning outcomes and five BIM phases, and two optional modules for students attempting to receive a qualification in Employability Skills Level 2. Recommend activities have been designed for each module to inspire students as teams design and build their digital railway. Teachers will also be offered the Construction Guide, which provides different methods of construction through the use of software or physical materials. The Guide will help teachers decide what options will be available for students during the execution of the project and related activities.

To provide teachers with a better understanding of engineering and how to talk about it with students, e.g. comfortably fielding STEM-related questions, we have developed the Teacher STEM Resource Guide. Along with brief advice about teaching STEM, the Guide offers a peek into the life as an engineer, types of engineering and routes to engineering for students. Mentors will follow the teacher’s curriculum plan along with our Mentor Handbook to successfully guide their team through the design and development of the team’s digital railway. Students from the Creative and Engineering strands will team up and receive a project a briefing along with the Student Resource Guide. This handbook has been designed to offer students insight into the problems that engineers face during their projects and how those issues have been handled. These design choices seen in the form of case studies, videos, and helpful websites will help students start to develop ideas for the final design of their digital railways. These resource guides have been designed to allow room for future modifications based on the relevance of the case studies and resources at the time the program is implemented.


Major Conclusions and Recommendations
Based on our discussions with stakeholders and observations, we concluded that developing an open-ended program is ideal since it does not limit student creativity and teachers can easily adapt the program to fit their curriculum. In addition, having a longer project spanning 10-12 weeks allows students to continuously build on what they learn throughout the program and apply it to their end result. Also, we concluded that letting teachers present the materials and having ambassadors as mentors to act as a resource would be the best setup for the program;
teachers are more knowledgeable about their curriculum and ambassadors have limited time and are not all necessarily trained to deliver or present materials.

The Digital Railway Programme was originally designed for Young Crossrail and its partner schools, but may develop into a much more widely used program as Transport for London (TfL) will be taking on Young Crossrail’s outreach commitments. Several recommended actions should take place in order to ensure the success and future of the Digital Railway Programme. These include: doing a pilot test of the program, creating a project website and information hub, additional program spin-offs, teacher and ambassador orientations, and having students showcase their projects and major events.