New engineering facility to address major skills gaps for ‘next industrial revolution’

Engineering-webA new £23 million facility dedicated to engineering teaching and research has been given the go-ahead at Nottingham Trent University.

The development at the Clifton Campus comes after the university launched a new Department of Engineering and a range of innovative engineering courses designed in conjunction with major industry employers and experts.

Courses in biomedical, electronic, sport and mechanical engineering have been created specifically to meet the industry’s current skills gaps.

The facility, which will house these new courses, will also include the creation of a new ‘Institute of Industrial Digitalisation, Robotics and Automation’.

This will enable the university to play a lead role in providing a highly-skilled workforce equipped with the digital skills necessary for the major impending changes in industrial manufacturing, known as Industry 4.0.

Industry 4.0 – the move towards automation in manufacturing technologies – is expected to have a major impact upon a range of industries, which will require significantly enhanced workforce skills.

The new engineering building will include engineering laboratories, workshops and studios, with flexible learning and teaching spaces with specialist equipment, and facilities for commercial research and consultancy.

Part of the university’s School of Science and Technology, it is expected to be completed in time for the 2019-20 academic year.

“We want to create inspirational, state-of-the-art facilities that inspire staff and students and demonstrate our commitment to being a major player in the STEM education of engineers,” said Professor Mary O’Neill, the Dean of Nottingham Trent University’s School of Science and Technology.

She said: “This development will facilitate a culture of innovation and excellence to support project-based, industry-focused learning and highly-rated research.

“It will enable us to be at the heart of developments in the emerging ‘Industry 4.0’ agenda in terms of education and skills training, as well as knowledge transfer and knowledge development and research.

“The anticipated skills shortages represent a serious concern for major industries, and we want to play a lead role in training current and future workers with the digitalisation skills required for this arena, which is being called the next industrial revolution.”

Professor Neil Mansfield, Head of Engineering at Nottingham Trent University, added: “The UK needs a new generation of creative engineers to invent the future and that is what we aim to produce. With our new facilities we will give our researchers the tools they need to develop new technologies, and our students everything they need to learn how to engineer a better world.

“Our building will provide both teaching and research space, and we look forward to working with business on real-world challenges.”

Stephanie Baxter, Skills and Education Lead at the Institution of Engineering and Technology, said: “Careers in modern engineering are at the forefront of technical innovation and have the potential to make a huge contribution to increasing productivity in the UK. With many high value jobs being created through digitisation, we need more young people to see the exciting opportunities engineering presents.

“It’s fundamental however that educators and businesses now work together to ensure that the next generation of talent has the right practical and technical skills to meet future demand. It’s exciting to think that this new facility will be at the forefront of this work.”

Last year the university unveiled its new £11 million Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Centre (ISTeC) at the Clifton Campus.

That facility, dedicated to teaching and research, brings STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – subjects together to support collaboration between different subject areas and between students and researchers.

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