£5m funding for AME to boost the Midlands’ high-tech manufacturing skills

Posted on 19 Mar 2019 by Maddy White

The Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME) has received over £5m of funding to enable it to continue to equip engineering graduates with the real-world skills employers demand.

(L-R) Carol Burke (Unipart Manufacturing Group), Carl Perrin (AME) and Zamurad Hussain (CWLEP).
(L-R) Carol Burke (Unipart Manufacturing Group), Carl Perrin (AME) and Zamurad Hussain (CWLEP).

The AME is a collaboration between Coventry University and Unipart Manufacturing Group.

Part-funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), it brings together academia, industry and R&D in a ‘live’ manufacturing environment.

Around 120 students are currently studying at the site and, since AME was launched, 100% of students who have graduated have been employed in engineering jobs.

The Manufacturer spoke to Carl Perrin, director at the Institute of Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering earlier this month.  

Perrin said to TM, “What the AME has tried to do with this ‘faculty on the factory floor’ model, is show that businesses must play a much bigger role in the whole education process. From defining the course, and learning what the outcomes might be, to making manufacturing generally more accessible.”

The Government’s Local Growth Fund – through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) – has awarded £1m of funding and Coventry University is providing a further £4m to refurbish one of the site’s buildings to equip it with high-tech manufacturing and materials analysis equipment. 

This will include investment in robotics, automation, digital technologies, laser processing and surface engineering – all designed to enhance research and teaching capabilities that will drive increased productivity.

“I think there is a need for more AME-style operations in more locations and in different subject areas,” Perrin added. “If we take for example the shift toward electrification of vehicles, we all know that there aren’t the people with the skills that can sustain the growth of those supply chains.

“How do we ensure we have those skills? I am looking at how we can build organisations similar to the AME, built on the principles of collaborations, businesses and universities working together to address those types of skills gaps in that working environment. We need to be strategic, involve more organisations, and take a collaborative and shared approach to fixing the skills issue.”