East of England - education

Wallasea Island, Essex

If you're thinking about a career in civil engineering, or you're interested in finding out more about civil engineering, ICE is here to help.

We offer advice and guidance if you're wondering what subjects to study at school, college or university. We also provide resources and support for teachers, and people looking to promote civil engineering.

Our volunteers are passionate about our industry and want to inspire the next generation of civil engineers. They visit schools to give careers advice and support engineering-themed activities for young people.

Looking for inspiring resources to use in school?

We have a range of multimedia resources for teachers, careers advisers, parents, and volunteer ICE ambassadors.

So if you want an activity for a class or club – something hands-on, that's tried and tested – you'll find it here. We also have PowerPoint presentations, videos, careers information and useful links to lots more.

Browse through and download the schools resources you need

ICE also works with Tomorrow's Engineers, which provides clear information on careers in engineering. The Tomorrow's Engineers careers materials:

  • Are mainly aimed 11 to 14-year-olds
  • Show what young people can achieve by studying maths and physics
  • Tell you about the huge range of careers available in engineering
  • Explain the different ways to get an engineering career

Find out more about Tomorrow's Engineers

In your region

We carry out a range of activities with schools across the region to help promote understanding of civil engineering and inspire young people. If you've got a question or want to arrange a visit then let us know at [email protected].

Interested in helping?

If you think you could help inspire the next generation of engineers, then we want to hear from you!

We're always on the look out for new Ambassadors to visit schools and help enthuse children across the region.

If you're interested we want to hear from you.

Find out more.

The Abberton Scheme

Causeway across the reservoir
Causeway across the reservoir

Essex is the driest county in the UK and, in the early 1990s, it became clear that more water was needed to meet future demand. Essex & Suffolk Water (ESW) was already doing all it could to reduce demand for water, so it decided to expand the existing Abberton Reservoir, near Colchester.

ESW's Abberton scheme was the first major water resource development in the UK for 30 years. It raised the reservoir's water level from 26bn to 41bn litres, and will supply water to 1.5 million people in Essex for many years to come.

Abberton Reservoir is also designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Protection Area (SPA), and a Ramsar Site (wetland of international importance) for wildfowl. ESW's team needed to protect and, if possible, improve this important habitat. The scheme included creating 6ha of wetland mitigation habitat, and removal of the concrete edge and shoreline re-profiling. This provided a further 200ha of shallow water habitat, which is crucial for feeding wildfowl.

Meeting the challenge

Abberton Reservoir pumping station
Abberton Reservoir pumping station

Getting planning approval on time was critical. However, this was complicated by the geographical size of the project, which meant planning permission was needed from four separate authorities.

Planning applications included a substantial Environmental Statement, containing a comprehensive impact assessment, to reflect the high ecological value of the landscapes involved.

Abberton Reservoir needed to be kept open throughout construction. The complicated geotechnical history of the main dam called for rigorous consideration of design. Finite element analysis was used to model the dam and the design was checked by an external panel of independent dam engineers.

The sustainability of the scheme was of paramount importance. As well as protecting habitat, it was important that the wider environment was preserved.

The dams were designed to use clay, sands and gravels sourced solely from within the reservoir site - over 800,000m3 in total. The original 12km concrete perimeter was excavated and crushed on-site to generate 35,000m3 of recycled material for constructing the new 17km perimeter track. These elements helped to reduce off-site waste and the amount of material that had to be imported. This resulted in 35,800 fewer journeys on public roads, 849tons of CO2 emissions being avoided, and much less disruption to local residents.

The large steel frame building, which housed the temporary off-take pumping station, was dismantled and re-used at another ESW site.

Involving the community

Key to the project's success was keeping communities informed and part of the decision-making process. This was done through public meetings, site tours, drop-in sessions, website updates and newsletters. More than 100 public meetings were held before the planning submission, involving nearly 100 interest groups and local communities. Drop-in sessions were attended by over 700 local residents, who were overwhelmingly positive.

A successful project

The £150m scheme was delivered on time and within budget. It was funded through ESW's capital investment programme and long-term loans. Upgrade of the Ely and Ouse to Essex Transfer Scheme (EOETS) took place between 2010 and 2012. Construction at the reservoir started in January 2010 and was completed in December 2013. The reservoir exceeded the original top water level in January 2014.

The scheme has won many awards and was cited as an example of best practice in the 2012 Government review of the Habitats Directive.

What is civil engineering?

If you want to know more about civil engineering, then you're in the right place. Our What is civil engineering section contains a wealth of information, including:

  • Examples of inspiring civil engineering achievements
  • Interviews - find out what inspired civil engineers to choose their career
  • Profiles of some of the most famous civil engineers to have lived

Find our more about civil engineering

Near you

To help promote civil engineering achievements close to you and across the UK, we're running a campaign called This is Civil Engineering. We're highlighting projects across the East of England that are helping to improve lives and improve our environment.

Find out more about This is Civil Engineering

What do you need to do to become a civil engineer?

If you're interested in a university or college course in civil engineering, it's important to make sure that the course you choose is 'accredited'. This means that it meets the Engineering Council's quality and curriculum standards.

Having accredited academic qualifications will make it easier for you to become professionally qualified as a chartered engineer (CEng), incorporated engineer (IEng), or engineering technician (EngTech). Use our course search to find accredited courses throughout the UK.


  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Hertfordshire
  • Anglia Ruskin University


  • Barnfield College
  • Bedford College
  • Cambridge Regional College
  • Central Bedfordshire College
  • Chelmsford College
  • City College Norwich
  • Colchester Institute
  • College of West Anglia
  • National Construction College
  • Oaklands College
  • Peterborough Regional College
  • South Essex College
  • Suffolk New College
  • West Suffolk College

Already studying?

If you're already studying for a qualification, then you could be eligible for our FREE student membership.

Becoming a member of ICE offers you a wealth of benefits, from access to free resources like our Ask Brunel service (get an answer to any civil engineering question!), to a free subscription to New Civil Engineer (NCE) magazine.

Join ICE today

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