Aecom and Nottingham Trent extend research partnership

Engineering firm Aecom and Nottingham Trent University have agreed a three-year extension to the research partnership they struck up in 2017.

The partnership agreement was re-signed by Aecom’s Richard Whitehead and NTU’s Professor Nigel Wright at a ceremony last week at NTU (Credit: NTU)

According to the university, the partnership has involved joint research such as testing new materials’ properties for use in 3D print applications, rapid structural testing, research on improving skills for offsite construction, and a project looking at how artificial intelligence can be used to optimise building materials for structures. Other aspects of the partnership have seen collaboration on key areas of activity including teaching and learning, student and staff placements, and graduate recruitment.

During the past two years, the organisations have also held several joint workshops to share knowledge and explore areas of mutual interest including lean design, Industry 4.0, energy demand reduction and sustainable development. The long-term goal of the partnership is to jointly bring new products, processes and services to market, according to NTU.

“Testament to the partnership’s success is being able to extend the partnership for an additional three years, allowing for more knowledge exchange activities that will continue to directly inform the relevance of NTU courses and research – which included helping to optimise manufacturing and testing methods across the industrial sector – and provided real-life experiences and graduate roles for NTU students,” said Professor Nigel Wright, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation at NTU.

“In addition to teaching and research, the partnership has begun to explore ways to address fundamental challenges such as developing a diverse workforce, increasing staff wellbeing and productivity, and driving social values in construction.”

As well as several student placements at Aecom offices, the partnership has seen 10 NTU grads recently joining the company, with more than 130 NTU alumni now employed at Aecom. Five of the company’s apprentices are also currently studying at the university.

“Over the past two years, we have seen the range of benefits that greater collaboration between industry and academia can bring,” said Richard Whitehead, managing director of Building + Places at Aecom UK & Ireland.

“An important element of our partnership with NTU is sharing knowledge and expertise to foster innovation and improve our understanding of current and future challenges facing the industrial sector. Our renewed partnership with NTU will focus on research that will be of most value to our clients, as well as training the next generation of engineers with the skills that industry needs.”