A collaboration between Coventry University and Unipart Manufacturing Group (www.unipartmanufacturing.co.uk
) to equip engineering graduates with the experience and skills needed by employers is to be extended after receiving over £5 million of funding (www.coventry.ac.uk/ame
The Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME) — known as the ‘faculty on the factory floor’ — was established at Coventry-based Unipart four years ago to provide teaching and research space for Coventry University students.
Around 120 students are currently studying there; since AME was launched, all of the students who have graduated have progressed to jobs in engineering.
Work is now due to start on refurbishing one of the site’s buildings next month, with a view to it being officially opened by the end of the year.
The Government’s Local Growth Fund has awarded £1 million of funding through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and Coventry University is providing another £4 million to refurbish the additional building and equip it with ‘state of the art’ digital manufacturing and materials analysis equipment.
This will include robotics, automation, digital technologies, laser processing and surface engineering — all designed to enhance research and teaching capabilities that will drive increased productivity.
Professor Carl Perrin, CEO of the Institute for Future Transport & Cities (FTC) and director of AME, said the quality of students who have graduated has got better and better.
“The vision for AME was to create a unique live manufacturing and engineering environment that inspires the next generation of engineers and develops powertrain and energy transfer solutions of tomorrow for partners involved in automotive, aerospace and renewables.
"Instead of just coming along to the Coventry University campus and working in classrooms and workshops, we wanted students to work on a live shopfloor and experience real-time projects as part of a team, under the time pressures and deadlines that go with that.
“Each year as part of their degree, the students are tasked with solving problems from Unipart’s manufacturing facilities and then presenting their recommendations to Unipart Manufacturing Group managing director Carol Burke.
“The expanded AME will consolidate our manufacturing and materials research under one roof and provide a digital manufacturing demonstrator for research, up-skilling regional businesses and teaching our students the latest digital manufacturing technologies, which will benefit future employers.”
Ms Burke said: “It is essential that we work collaboratively to support the development of the UK supply chain, so that we can deliver the capacity and skills required to lead the world in low-carbon technology.
"The expansion of AME is a welcome boost in achieving this aim; it will, in turn, contribute to supporting industrial growth both in the West Midlands and further afield.”