World-class engineering skills centre opens

A world-class skills powerhouse to create engineering leaders of the future officially opened today at Furness College.

The Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Centre – the first of its kind in Cumbria – is a £4m state-of-the-art training facility on the Channelside campus.

It was opened by the chairman of the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership George Beveridge as part of the area’s ten-year strategic economic plan.

The centre will help meet the growing demand locally for highly-skilled workers by enabling students to develop skills on real-life projects for companies ranging from major employers to SMEs.

Students will have access to the latest high-tech equipment and machinery, a metrology lab for the study of materials, learning hub, CAD classrooms and industrial-size workshop.

Steve McAloone, head of engineering and advanced manufacturing at the college, said it would support Cumbria’s economic growth strategy and was a ‘win-win’ for engineering students and employers.

“We want to prepare tomorrow’s engineers and technicians for the workplace and enable current workers to retrain and enhance their skills.

“This facility provides the perfect environment and specialist equipment for students to work at the cutting-edge of engineering on research projects that will help local employers take design and manufacturing to the next level.

“Nationally there is a skills gap with a further 87,000 engineers needed and the centre will play a big role in the skills development to serve our local workforce.”

He said there was substantial growth in engineering in the area with significant investment at companies including BAE Systems to deliver the Successor programme, GSK’s new biopharmaceutical facility and at Sellafield.

Principal of Furness College Andrew Wren said the college has a strong track record of excellent education in engineering, which has been recognised with an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted grade.

“This innovative new centre will strengthen what we can offer by providing an inspirational learning space and make a significant contribution to the economy by working with employers to help upskill as well as attracting new apprentices to the profession.”

The facility has classroom space for up to 450 higher education students and 1150 apprentices on science, technology and engineering apprenticeships and HNC and degree programmes in engineering manufacturing and electrical and electronic engineering.

New equipment ranges from a rapid prototyping machine and latest five-axis CAD/CAM machines to a high-tech Faro scanarm that uses laser technology to inspect and reverse engineer complex parts and surfaces into a 3D model, suite of new 3D printers and virtual welding machine.

The centre, which at 1,663sq metres with double-height provision can accommodate large projects, has been funded with £1.43m through the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and £750,000 funding from the HEFCE catalyst fund.

It was built by Thomas Armstrong Ltd, designed by Harrison Pitt Architects and project managed by Bushell Raven.

Any business wanting to find out how this brand new facility can help their organisation, please contact our Business & Employment Support Team

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