A new dawn in engineering and innovation has been unveiled today as UCLan’s Engineering Innovation Centre is officially launched.Advertisement
Looming large on the Preston skyline, the £35m teaching and research facility engages directly with industry and provides students with real-world experience on live, engineering-related projects.
The aim of the Engineering Innovation Centre (EIC) is to provide courses which respond to industry demand to improve productivity across the North West.
The strategy aims to support the innovation needs of 1,300 regional small and medium enterprises now and in the future.
The EIC will act as one of the driving forces behind the Lancashire Industrial Strategy as well as national industrial strategy, addressing the need for innovation and producing the next generation of world-class engineers.
Research and teaching facilities include a 3D printing lab, an advanced manufacturing workshop, an intelligent systems facility, a motorsports and air vehicles lab, a high-performance computing lab, a flight simulator suite as well as a fire, oil and gas facility.
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To date, the EIC is the largest single investment in Lancashire’s educational infrastructure establishing UCLan as one of the UK’s leading universities for engineering innovation.
Identified as a signature project within Lancashire’s Strategic Economic Plan, the EIC secured £10.5 million worth of funding via the Lancashire Enterprise Partnerships’ Growth Deal with the Government.
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Professor Graham Baldwin, vice-chancellor at UCLan, said: “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.
“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.”
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.
The EIC forms part of the University’s £200 million Masterplan, which also includes a new student support centre, improvements to the public realm and highways around the Adelphi roundabout as well as new social spaces facilities and a new multi-faith centre, all at the Preston campus.
Working in partnership together, SimpsonHaugh and Reiach and Hall Architects designed the EIC, which was built by main contractor, BAM Construction.
David Taylor, pro-chancellor and chair of the University Board, added: “The EIC is not only a significant asset to the University but also the county, wider region and the UK.
“It will act as one of the driving forces behind the industrial strategy both on a regional and national scale while cementing Lancashire’s position as a national centre of excellence for aerospace, advanced engineering and manufacturing.”
Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, Rt Hon Jake Berry MP, said: “We are committed to boosting economic growth across the Northern Powerhouse and levelling up every place in the UK as we prepare to leave the EU on 31 October.
“Thanks to £10.5 million of investment from the Government’s Local Growth Fund, the University of Central Lancashire’s flagship Engineering Innovation Centre will play an important role in cementing the North’s long-standing reputation for world-class further education, scientific innovation and engineering excellence.
“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.”
Steve Fogg, Chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, added: “The LEP has invested £10.5m Growth Deal funding towards creating this world-class centre of excellence for high technology manufacturing which will support innovation in local businesses and supply the skilled and talented engineers they need to grow and succeed.
“Lancashire is already the country’s number one region for aerospace production and advanced manufacturing.
“By funding projects like the EIC, the development of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre at the Samlesbury Aerospace Enterprise Zone and new education and training facilities across the county, the LEP is investing in the facilities and the skilled workforce of the future needed for the sector to maintain and build on its leading position, compete on the global stage and take advantage of opportunities in emerging markets.
“Our £320m investment programme is supporting strategically important projects like this all across Lancashire which, together, will drive substantial economic growth for years to come, create thousands of new jobs and homes and attract £1.2bn in private investment.”
How will the Engineering Innovation Centre affect Lancashire? Let us know in the comments section.