When I decided to take the role of Director of the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME) in April this year, I knew I had the chance to be part of something that could change the way we prepare graduates for industry.

“We believe this approach will create much more rounded graduates that can have an immediate impact on the shopfloor and, importantly, a company’s bottom line.” 

I was excited when I signed on the dotted line and that level of excitement has gone up a few notches over the last six weeks, with construction of our 1700 sq metre manufacturing hub nearing completion and our first R&D project now secured…three months before we officially open.

Before now, all of the talk had been around the vision and what we were hoping to achieve. This is now being replaced with things that people can see and tangibles that start to make the long-term more of a reality.

At £32m+, this unique collaboration between Coventry University and Unipart Manufacturing is creating the UKs first ‘Faculty on the Factory Floor’ that will combine the best in academia, industry and R&D in a live manufacturing environment.

The aim is to give undergraduate and postgraduate students access to learning that they can immediately apply to commercial projects for products that are going out the door every day…often to customers all over the world.

This will ensure theory and practical experience meet as one and students can tap into world class engineers and lecturers in areas, such as design, mechanical and manufacturing systems and metrology.

We believe this approach will create much more rounded graduates that can have an immediate impact on the shopfloor and, importantly, a company’s bottom line. This has been what industry has been demanding for years.

The other element of AME is our desire to become a world class R&D facility, using the manufacturing hub, £2m of cutting-edge automation and our research and development team to develop the next generation of powertrain technologies.

Initially, this will be focused on the automotive sector, but we intend to take what we learn into other markets, such as aerospace, oil and gas, renewables and rail.

Our first R&D project is called ‘Working Towards Zero Prototyping’ and is funded by the Technology Strategy Board, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Unipart Eberspächer.

It will focus on developing novel modelling and simulation techniques for a Unipart exhaust system with view to speeding up future design and prototype cycles, not to mention reducing the costs of bringing new products to market. This is hopefully the first of many more R&D opportunities for AME that we will be able to disseminate across the manufacturing sector.

When I agreed to join the Institute I said we were at the start of an exciting journey to change the way industry and education trains graduates forever. It was a bold statement, but one I believed in and that belief is getting stronger and stronger the closer we get to our official launch.

Dr Carl Perrin is the Director of the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering

NCUB’s Skills Demand research assesses the needs of employers in searching for graduate talent. This includes deepening our understanding of labour market supply and demand beyond a number of graduates in a subject area to vacancies in industry to candidate’s specific qualities and employability skills. NCUB Skills Demand research is undertaken in support of HEFCE work in STEM and strategic subjects.   

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