40th Annual Crampton Awards

Dining Hall, Trinity College Dublin

26th March 2019


Good evening,

You’re all very welcome to the Dining Hall for this exceptional event: the 40th anniversary of the annual Crampton Awards for students in civil and structural engineering in the Dublin region – that’s students from Trinity, UCD and TU Dublin.

As an engineering graduate, I well remember the Crampton Awards. When I was an undergraduate in the mid-1980s, the Award was relatively new, having been founded in 1979. Today it is distinctive for its longevity: this Award has been running for forty years consecutively, sponsored by the same firm, G&T Crampton, one of the longest-established leading building firms in Ireland.

The only parallel I can think of is the Rooney Prize for Literature, run by the Oscar Wilde Centre here in Trinity, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2016 and has also been sponsored by the same family for its entire history.

Such commitment is unusual. Consistency and longevity lends a particular character, identity and recognition-factor to an award. For four decades G&T Crampton have been encouraging civil and structural engineering students by rewarding excellence.

The award was founded in 1979, on the occasion of the centenary of the firm. In this, G&T Crampton were pioneers of the current environment of industry-university partnerships, which has seen many multinationals and local companies get involved in universities, not only as research but as education partners.

As it happens, I’m just now coming from the Trinity Employability Award, in its third year, which is about giving students learning experiences that enhance their career knowledge and career readiness. We have a number of corporate partners in this.

The idea behind the Trinity Employability Award and other such initiatives is that we realise how essential it is for students to start thinking in terms of real-life challenges and applying skills learnt in the class room to actual work situations. Globally, it has been comprehensively demonstrated that students benefit from contact with firms and employers at an early stage of their college careers, whether through internships or awards.

As I say, G&T Crampton, have been pioneers of this approach. For forty years they have encouraged students of civil and structural engineering through these awards, helping them to relate their studies to future careers.

The firm has shown its commitment to the whole Dublin region by including the three Dublin universities - Trinity, UCD and TU Dublin - where civil engineering can be studied. In this it recalls other awards, such as the Naughton Scholarships and the Ireland Professor of Poetry, which also involve different Irish universities. Such inclusivity is important for connecting and linking, for reminding us of our shared mission to educate the next generation entering the workforce, and to contribute to growth in Ireland through research and innovation.

The prestige of this award among students is of course enhanced by the reputation of G&T Crampton, which for 140 years has been a leading Irish construction firm, responsible for many landmark buildings, including the iconic US embassy in Ballsbridge, the Bank of Ireland in O’Connell Street and the Georges Quay Plaza.

In Trinity we have a special relationship with the firm because they built one of our best-loved buildings, the Berkeley Library, to the design of Paul Koralek.

There is an article on the Trinity website called ‘Holding Back the Waves’ by Greg Sheaf, which goes into detail, unusual for a generalist article, on what was involved in the construction of the Berkeley. Civil engineers will be interested to hear how G&T Crampton “approached the problem of keeping water out of the below-ground areas”. Apparently, “they used 400mm-thick waterproof concrete and grouting, rather than a membrane which would be impossible to get to without huge effort if something went wrong.” This has been “successful in tackling the area’s high water table.”

Great buildings are achieved through the symbiosis of architects, builders and civil and structural engineers. Whatever your field of study as a student, it’s essential to feel inspired in your choice. Inspiration comes from the achievements of others. I hope that our deserving Trinity recipients of the G&T Crampton Award feel a sense of connection every time they pass the Berkeley Library. And that all our civil engineering students feel inspired.

After forty years of these Awards there is a constellation of G&T Crampton winners around Ireland and the world, many of them very high-achieving. They are exemplary of the reach and success of this award. I hope that in the spirit of the founders of the Awards, that they are professionally supportive of each other and of Irish engineering graduates generally.

On this the 140th anniversary year of G&T Crampton and the 40th year of the Crampton Awards, I’m sure that you will all join me in wishing the firm a very happy birthday, and on behalf of our universities and indeed of the Dublin region, many thanks for your support of our students and graduates and of the profession of civil and structural engineering.

Thank you.

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