New UCLan centre a regional powerhouse for engineering innovation
The University of Central Lancashire (UClan) has officially opened the doors to its brand new £35 million teaching and research facility set to drive job creation and engineering innovation in the UK’s North West region and beyond.
Based at the institution’s Preston campus, the Engineering Innovation Centre (EIC) serves as a prime venue for knowledge transfer and innovative industry-academia partnerships.
Students at the centre work alongside industry and academic researchers on live, real-world engineering-related projects in emerging fields such as 3D printing, artificial intelligence, drone technology and the internet of things (IoT).
Integrated teaching, learning, and research spaces check all the boxes necessary to close the gaps between work and education in engineering, ensuring local skills match social and economic needs.
In addition, ready access to cutting-edge facilities from an additive manufacturing lab to an advanced manufacturing workship, intelligent systems workshop, motorsports and air vehicles lab and flight simulator suite to name a few creates fertile grounds for collaboration and innovation to take root.
This culture of continuous collaboration will keep course curriculum constantly updated, and supports the innovation needs of some 1,300 SMEs across the Northern Powerhouse.
“The provision of practice-based learning has always been a strength of this university and now, through the EIC and our links with industry, we will ensure our students gain exposure to even greater levels of applied, real-world learning,” UCLan Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Baldwin said in a media release.
“Our strategy is to ensure the university is at the forefront of future skills development enabling Lancashire and the North West region to lead the new ‘digital’ industrial revolution which is now upon us.”
From where it stands at the nexus of industry and higher education, the EIC will also act as a key driver of the Lancashire Industry Strategy and the wider UK Industry Strategy, both of which seek to increase job quality and opportunities to boost local and national earning power and stimulate economic growth.
The EIC plays an important role in this, contributing via skills training, knowledge transfer and infrastructure in the engineering sector.
“The advances made and skills learned at this pioneering facility will have far-reaching benefits from equipping young people for well paid, highly skilled jobs to technological advances supporting manufacturing businesses throughout the North and around the world,” Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth Minister Jake Berry said.
He added that Britain’s UK exit this month-end would not throw a spanner in the works for the region’s growth plans. A £10.5 million injection from the Government’s Local Growth Fund for the EIC, he said, helps ensure this.
“UCLan’s flagship EIC will play an important role in cementing the North’s long-standing reputation for world-class further education, scientific innovation and engineering excellence,” he said.
In addition to the Growth Deal funding, the new facility has also received £5.8 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and £5 million from HEFCE’s STEM Capital Fund.