New centre will train industrial research leaders of tomorrow

New centre will train industrial research leaders of tomorrow


A new specialist training centre at The University of Nottingham will help to keep the UK at the forefront of engineering excellence.

The Manufacturing Technology Engineering Doctorate Centre will train dozens of the brightest postgraduate students to address key challenges in advanced manufacturing engineering.

An intensive four-year research programme, in partnership with industry, will ensure students are well placed to become the industrial research leaders of tomorrow.

The Centre was announced on January 13th by David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, with funding of 1.25m from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The University of Nottingham was selected by EPSRC because of its reputation for excellence in manufacturing engineering, and its strong track record of working in partnership with industry.

The Engineering Doctorate (EngD) is an alternative to the traditional PhD, being more closely related to the needs of industry and providing a more vocationally orientated doctorate degree, with the student spending a significant proportion of their time working in industry.

The four-year award provides postgraduate engineers with an intensive, broad-based research programme incorporating a taught component undertaken in partnership with industry.

The Nottingham centre will help to stimulate postgraduate training within the specific remit of the materials, mechanical and medical engineering programme at EPSRC. It will support up to 10 engineering doctorate students — referred to as ‘Research Engineers’ — per year for the next four years.

Professor Svetan Ratchev, Centre Director said: “It is widely recognised that the UK manufacturing has a crucial role in achieving long-term prosperity and sustainable economic growth.

“The EPSRC Manufacturing Technology Engineering Doctorate Centre is an exciting new opportunity to prepare the manufacturing experts for the future and enhance the competitiveness of UK industry by rapidly transforming the latest manufacturing research results into industrial technologies. The Centre will benefit from a critical mass based on research excellence from three leading universities — The University of Nottingham, the University of Birmingham and Loughborough University.

“Its activities will complement the existing strong research and training programmes at the partner universities and will further enhance their research co-operation with leading industrial partners.

“The Centre will provide unique research experience for the research engineers by being based at the purpose-built Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), exposed to the latest technologies and equipment and working in close collaboration with world-leading companies including Airbus, Rolls Royce and AeroEngine Control.

“As part of the EngD programme, the centre will also deliver high quality training focused on developing skills in core technology subject areas as well as research methods, project management, quality assurance, technology acquisition, supply chain management and logistics.”

Nottingham’s successful application involves its academic partners at the Universities of Birmingham and Loughborough, and industrial partners Rolls-Royce, Airbus, Aero Engine Controls and TWI Ltd. It is based on the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), in which the University is a key partner.

The 12,000 square metre purpose-built MTC — at Ansty, Warwickshire — will provide a hub for the Research Engineers, who will benefit from investment in large-scale equipment and access to key staff. They will tackle key engineering research challenges in the fields of net shape manufacturing, advanced tooling and fixturing, and intelligent automation.

Research Engineers will benefit from a training programme combining advanced technical skills with professional development. This is to ensure that Research Engineers are not only equipped with detailed hands-on knowledge of the latest advanced manufacturing methods and approaches, but also an understanding of how their research fits within an organisation overall.

The Nottingham centre is one of five Industrial Doctorate Training Centres announced by the Government. The other four are based at the Universities of Strathclyde, Swansea, Sheffield and Warwick.

Speaking about the new centres, the Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, said: “These new centres will generate a new wave of engineers with the knowledge and skills needed to become future business leaders and create new innovation and economic growth for the UK.

“They focus on key areas of advanced manufacturing, which are vital to the UK’s major industrial sectors including the aerospace and automotive industry. These talented young innovators will help fuel future economic growth for the UK.”

EPSRC will provide a quarter of the costs for each training centre — 1.25m of ‘stimulus’ funding — with the remainder coming from industry and from the universities themselves.

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