Training centres focus on advanced manufacturing

The automotive and aerospace industries in the UK received a major boost today as universities and science minister David Willetts announced the launch of five new centres across the UK to train engineers of the future.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is co-funding five new Industrial Doctorate Centres covering key areas of advanced manufacturing vital to growth in two of the UK’s biggest industrial sectors.

The EPSRC centres will help students taking an engineering doctorate (EngD) to understand the needs of business, how to be entrepreneurs, as well as training them in the most innovative future technologies in advanced manufacturing.

Launching the new centres during a visit to the Wolfson School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at Loughborough University, Willetts said: ’These new centres focus on key areas of advanced manufacturing that are vital to the UK’s major industrial sectors, including the aerospace and automotive industry.’

Each centre will support up to 100 doctorate students over four years and are based in university departments with a strong track record of working in partnership with industry.

More than 50 per cent of the funding for each centre will come from industrial partners with EPSRC providing £1.25m per centre. The companies involved in these centres include JLR, Rolls-Royce, Tata Steel, Timet, Airbus, BAE Systems, Boeing and a range of other partners.

Each of the centres will focus on a specific goal. Researchers at the universities of Nottingham, Birmingham and Loughborough’s Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) will focus on delivering rapid manufacturing performance improvements; while for their part, those at Strathclyde University’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) will look at ways of manufacturing metal with very little waste.

At Sheffield University’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), engineers will examine how machine technologies can be used to make time and cost savings, while their counterparts at Warwick University’s Warwick Manufacturing Group will look at high-value, low-environmental impact manufacturing.

Lastly, researchers at Swansea University’s College of Engineering will focus their attention on techniques for improving manufacturing processes.