Glasgow students challenged to design net-zero McDonald’s

Glasgow students were challenged to design a net-zero McDonald’s restaurant, as part of a drive to encourage careers in construction.

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McDonald’s recently partnered with construction education organisation Class of Your Own and Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) Glasgow, to provide a free virtual work experience programme for young people in the Scotland.

The initiative, which is part of My Climate Path, a COP26 educational legacy project led by Glasgow Chamber of Commerce and funded by the Scottish Government, challenged young students to design a net-zero McDonald’s restaurant for their local community.

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McDonald's have released their festive menu for 2021 (Photo: Shutterstock)

What did the students do?

130 students signed up to the initiative, which aimed to encourage sustainable thinking and provide insight into careers in construction and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). They were invited to discover the roles and skills required for the jobs of the future that could drive sustainable economic growth in a net zero economy, with access to a range of strong industry and academic links which enabled them to put their learnings to paper.

As well as STEM, the initiative had strong curriculum links to subjects such as English, geography, art, design and technology.

During the week, pupils were introduced to the concept of a ‘net zero’ design. They were asked to design an inclusive, modern restaurant, with support from industry professionals. Pupils produced a written report and submitted this for moderation. All pupils who successfully completed the course received a DEC CONNECT Award’ endorsed certificate, a valuable material for their CV and future job prospects.

Who took part?

Young people from eight local authorities, including Glasgow, took part. Schools from Glasgow that took part in the project were: Glasgow Gaelic School, Shawlands Academy, Hillpark Secondary School and Notre Dame High School.

Aew Architects and McDonald’s employees assisted in the preparation of information videos for the programme. Funded by the Scottish Government through the Young Person’s Guarantee, My Climate Path generously sponsored the pupils to take part in the programme with Building Research Solutions funding 28 pupils and McDonald’s supporting with the development costs. Industry volunteers from companies such as Turner and Townsend, Mott MacDonald and Wills Bros Civil Engineering Ltd attended the training and provided valuable insight and advice.

As part of the ongoing COP26 educational legacy, My Climate Path, DYW Glasgow will run another week of the free virtual work experience programme in March 2022 following such a successful launch.

Interested schools from the Glasgow City Region should register their interest by emailing [email protected]. There is an opportunity for businesses to sponsor places at just £35 +VAT per pupil or to become an industry volunteer.

Shining stars

My Climate Path, Class Of Your Own and Aew Architects selected three ‘shining stars’ from the entries. Courtney Dunbar of Braidhurst High School (Motherwell), Mounia Merahi of Notre Dame High School (Glasgow) and Mirren Maguire of Our Lady and St Patrick’s High School (Dumbarton). Each of the Shining Stars produced excellent sustainable thinking for the future – including renewable energy, recycled plastic bricks, green walls, equality and diversity.

‘Talented students’

Gareth Hudson, director of development at McDonald’s UK & Ireland, said: “We’re so pleased to have been able to work on such a beneficial project with such talented students around Scotland – whilst helping to support their education. At McDonald’s, we believe that our food needs to be served in restaurants that are truly sustainable.

“We believe net zero is the future, and we recently demonstrated this with the opening of our first net zero emissions standard restaurant in Market Drayton. But we still don’t have all the answers and we’re always looking for ways to innovate, which is why projects like this are so important. We were blown away by the standard of entries and hope to be able to take some of them forward into future McDonald’s design and development.”

Alison McRae, senior director, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce which hosts DYW Glasgow, said: “Through DYW Glasgow, we continually see the value of meaningful business engagement with young people in demonstrating real career pathways into the world of work. My Climate Path initiatives such as this are creating a COP26 education legacy that supports true change and helps young people to gain the skills and experience to embrace the emerging green and circular jobs of the future.

“Having industry volunteers supporting in the classroom greatly enhanced the pupils’ experience and allowed them to learn first-hand from experts how to design, engineer and construct a sustainable future. Our partnership demonstrates how linking young leaders, education, and businesses will deliver a future that we can all grow and thrive in.

“This is just the beginning in helping future generations take one step closer to entering career pathways which will help tackle the climate emergency. We are excited to offer more pupils the chance to participate when the programme is delivered again in March.”