Four students from Bristol University have been awarded £20,000 to help launch an engineering tool designed to teach basic manufacturing skills.
The OMNI combines 3D printing, milling, component placement and metrology on a single device, and is intended to be a cost effective platform for students to put engineering teaching into practice. A recent IMechE study found that 59 per cent of engineering grads lack the practical skills needed by the UK’s manufacturing industry, and OMNI is aiming to help address this.
“It was fantastic to be able to use our final year project to develop our start-up idea,” said Bristol grad and OMNI team member Ed Cooper. “The need to address the commercial opportunities and constraints of a real design problem within the project really helped identify how we could develop routes to market.”
“We are tremendously excited about the prospect of using the start-up as a platform for engaging school and college students with engineering and the future of manufacturing technologies.”
The Bristol team hopes to tackle the practical skills gap by delivering better access to machinery and providing open source learning tools. The long-term ambition is to bring OMNI to schools and universities across the UK to help improve STEM engagement and inspire the next generation of engineers and inventors.
Over the next six months the students will receive business mentoring from EdTech Futures, specialists in educational products. In addition, the OMNI team will have access to marketing guidance from Bath-based The House, and support on product delivery from JISC, who are also the providers of the £20,000 in funding.