Railway Challenge at Sheffield (RCAS) profile picture

Railway Challenge at Sheffield (RCAS)

Celebrating four amazing Women in Engineering - here we meet Rachel, a Materials Science student and Emma, Isobel and Louise, Mechanical Engineering students: four women who have all taken on the Railway Challenge at Sheffield.



The team was created in September 2013 and it’s taken a couple of years to get an actual moving, functional train, but it's really developed a lot and it has grown from three or four people to the 20 or 30 people we’ve got now. It’s also grown from being one department to five departments and it’s been really nice seeing the friendships that grow and you see the people who get to mingle with people from different year groups, different departments and people you would never have met otherwise. Rachel Crawford.

I think that's definitely the advantage because I didn't understand how to use the CAD software at all and I could just go and ask some second years who have done it before, so in my first year, I found it really helpful as they could help you with your degree. Louise Howlett.


For me [choosing Sheffield] was really an opportunity to not just being another number. Being on a course where the lecturers want to get to know you as a person so they can support you as best they can is really something that I hadn't seen anywhere else. Rachel Crawford.

Railway Challenge at Sheffield (RCAS)


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When I started in first year I really wanted to do some form of extra curricular thing based on Mechanical Engineering and a student led activity - they have quite a few on offer here but I really liked the railway challenge because everyone just seemed really enthusiastic. Everyone’s really friendly and supportive and if you don’t know what you are doing it’s fine because they’ll help you, they'll explain things to you and you can take the stuff you've learned in lectures and see how it works on a real life thing and it’s just really good. Isobel Catt.

The competition is run by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and every summer we go along to Melton Mowbray where there is the miniature railway track. There are usually anywhere from 8-12 teams that take part over the weekend and there’s loads of different challenges and competitions that we can take part in - everything from the business side of things right through to the technical side of things. There's something for every team to get involved with and every team to excel in so we’re really good at the maintainability challenge in Sheffield and that's something that we have worked really hard in designing something that can do really well. Rachel Crawford.


I quite like how the city’s not massive and you can go off to the Peaks for the evening and then come back and go to a really nice cafe in the town centre and everything seems quite close together. Emma Savant.

The engineering department itself has really good facilities and support for undergraduates - in other places [I visited] you couldn't see where you were studying as an undergraduate but here the Diamond is just amazing and then that combined with my rock climbing I had to choose Sheffield. Louise Howlett.

The good thing about the railway challenge is if at the end of fourth year you’re thinking you definitely want to work in the railway industry - being able to talk about trains in your job interview is probably going to be very useful. Isobel Catt.


Having done the Railway Challenge at Sheffield I think I'm pretty equipped to go into any industry I want to. Rachel Crawford.