It’s a hot July day in London as the latest email has dropped into the Tunnels inboxes. The British Tunnelling Society Young Members (BTSYM) have organised its latest site visit. No sooner has Tunnels seen the invitation, than a follow-up note reveals all the places have been filled.

The popularity of the group that turns five this year has gone from strength to strength. Founded by Kate Cooksey in 2008, its regular news mailers reach 200 people, having so far offered more than 20 talks, 15 site visits and 10 school visits. In 2013 more than 40 active members are working to achieve goals of the BTSYM.

For the aim has not just been to benefit existing young tunnellers, with workshops and the like, but also to draw university, and even schoolchildren towards the industry.

Perhaps the greatest achievement in this regard came late last year, when a conference organised by the group was so over-subscribed, even the overflow rooms were heaving. The given purpose of the conference was to educate young tunnel engineers, and to expose university students to the profession.

This year the BTSYM came up with the idea of workshops. Each workshop would aim to inspire the next generation with case studies and hopefully act as a knowledge transfer tool. Some workshops will include a debate to encourage participation, and to ensure a good understanding of the topic. These workshops will encourage experienced tunnelling professionals to interact with young members.

Another new project is the teaching pack. A suite of five tunnel-themed lessons is being developed for 11 to 14 year olds. Each pack will contain a presentation, requiring no previous knowledge on the part of the teacher; detailed lesson plans and teacher notes; activity sheets and learning material and student worksheets to record the outcome. Lesson plans cover designing a tunnel, through geology and excavation with some practical application.

With new moves to expand into the international field, the movement towards young member societies and groups looks set to continue to gain popularity and increase its usefulness to the industry