The formal opening of a state-of-the art £3 million ‘Advanced Engineering Centre’ – at Exeter College – a UK leading centre of excellence for robotics and virtual welding – has taken place.
The next generation of leaders in engineering are being inspired at the centre, a 780 square metre extension to the Exeter College Technology Centre on the edge of Exeter.
The centre is meeting the growing demand locally, regionally and nationally for teaching in engineering, robotics, automated manufacturing and rapid prototyping. The college is offering a range of programmes covering these subjects starting this September 2018 for school leavers.
The state-of-the-art ‘Advanced Engineering Centre’ is partly funded from the Heart of the South West LEP’s Growth Deal funding.
The facility features the largest virtual welding training facility in Europe, with virtual and conventional welding equipment. The centre features eight new, manufacturing-quality robots. There are also five 3D printers that enable rapid prototyping and manufacturing.
Exeter College has worked very closely with industry partners Kuka, Axminster Tools and Arconic to equip the centre with the very latest technology – demonstrating the college’s strong links and collaboration with industrial partners.
The extension is supporting the college’s broad range of programmes in Engineering, Aerospace and Automotive; providing industry-led teaching spaces, workshops and laboratories for both practical and academic learning.
The centre was officially opened on Thursday, July 5th, 2018 by CEO of Flybe, Christine Ourmières-Widener. More than 80 guests attended the event, which featured the unveiling of a plaque celebrating the opening of the new building.
John Laramy, Exeter College Principal and Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to welcome our employer and South West partners to our new centre. The centre continues the college’s investment in the city and offers a delivery base to serve the wider South West region. We believe that this centre is currently the most advanced robotics facility within any FE College in Europe and with the support of the LEP, employers and our great staff we hope to make a tangible impact on productivity in the Greater Exeter Area.”
Steve Hindley, Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP said: “This new centre is part one of six new training facilities that are partly funded by the LEP’s Growth Deal as part of the Hinkley Point Training Package (HPTA).
“HPTA is an innovative approach to providing high-level skills required by the construction of Hinkley Point C and other businesses being affected by the draw of Hinkley. I am very pleased to see this project come to fruition, and look forward to seeing new students taking up rewarding careers.”
A qualified aircraft engineer herself, Christine Ourmières-Widener, CEO of Flybe, Europe’s largest regional airline added: “Flybe is proud of the long-standing partnership we have with Exeter College through our successful training and apprenticeship programmes. This magnificent state-of-the-art advanced engineering training centre is an inspiration to anyone who has ambitions to pursue a career in engineering. To have it right here on our doorstep is an added bonus. Congratulations to everyone involved.”
The Heart of the South West LEP’s total Growth Deal is worth £598m; including £239m from Government and £351m match funding. Over the lifetime of the Growth Deal: 2015 – 2021; HotSW LEP estimates the investment will create up to 26,300 new jobs and 16,400 new homes. This centre aims to provide the training and upskilling requirements for the South West, where large infrastructure projects such as Hinkley Point C are providing significant opportunities for both the current and future south west employment base.
Within the new centre, there is a range of specialist equipment, including a suite of five 3D printers, supplied by Axminister Tools. As part of the centre, there is also a ground breaking project funded by international company Arconic, with a state-of-the-art milling machine paired with an industrial robot cell, enabling students to replicate production line development and trial efficiencies for new rapid manufacturing.
Andy McAdam, Divisional Director for Midas Construction for Somerset; Devon and Cornwall, said: “As a regionally-based business with our roots in Exeter, it is a source of great pride for Midas to have been chosen as the project contractor and to have successfully delivered this prestigious scheme.
“The essence of our vision at Midas is to be leaders in customer service and performance – and through that to develop long-term relationships with customers and communities in the areas we operate. We were pleased to be able to work with the college and the architects Stride Treglown to create such a fantastic new facility and in doing so to be able to maximise the use of local labour and suppliers.”
The opening of the new centre demonstrates Exeter College’s long-term commitment to the development of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths). Exeter College is recognised as an award-winning leader in the provision of STEM subjects. The college was recently named national STEM FE College of the Year, a prestigious award celebrating excellence in teaching in STEM.
Exeter College was also selected by the Government recently as one of the first providers of new ‘T Levels’ – marking a revolution in technical education. T Levels are courses, which will be on a par with A Levels and will provide young people with a choice between technical and academic education post 16.
The college is also a partner in a multi-million pound bid to revolutionise digital technology education across the South West. Of 35 original applications, the South West Institute of Technology (SWIoT) bid, led by the University of Exeter, is one of 16 to progress to the final stage of the competitive process.
Learners at Exeter College are able to take advantage of excellent facilities and expert teaching. As well as the new centre, specialist facilities include the college’s state of the art Maths and Science Centre, which provides inspirational and inspiring academic science labs and classroom spaces.