Coventry welcome engineers of the future

Coventry will welcome 20 hopeful engineers for a new programme aiming to advance industry-ready graduates next month.

Final work on the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering got underway this month as the final section of the roof was completed.

The AME, a £32m collaboration between Coventry University and Unipart Manufacturing Group, has been deemed the UK’s first “faculty on the factory floor” and is set to unite the best in academia, industry and R&D.

The scheme will provide a real-time environment for a new model in manufacturing degrees.

Due to open in November, the AME secured £7.9m funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s Catalyst Fund.

Unipart will contribute £17.9m to the production of the site, as well as a further £5.6m towards product R&D and student scholarships.

The funding will provide new machinery, robots and CNC tube manipulation equipment at the site.

Located at Unipart’s site in Beresford Avenue, Coventry, AME’s courses have been produced by heavyweights in academia and industry, with a focus on design, metrology, manufacturing and mechanical systems.

Dr Carl Perrin the institute’s new director said: “One of the elements that’s different about this project is that we are taking the education platform to the manufacturing site and creating on the job learning.

“It’s one thing to teach people something in the classroom but actually what we really need is people who understand how to do it and you only achieve that from doing it.

“This programme provides students with the technical skills but also a whole other skill set which is equally important such as learning how to interface with people on the shopfloor.

“These are skills that a traditional engineering graduate would not necessarily have because they haven’t been exposed to it before but through this mechanism they will get that.

“It’s not just about doing a placement or a sandwich course, this is actually embedded in the entire three years and really it’s that element which makes this course unique.”

A threshold of 20 students was applied to the first cohort of students this year, but next year the limit will be extended to 25 and 30 students in 2016.

The initiative aims to address the national skills shortage, as well as develop and innovate new technologies across the sectors with the brightest young talent in manufacturing and engineering.

Academics and industry leaders hope that AME will be replicated in other industries all over the UK.

Dr Perrin added: “Businesses will benefit in many ways.

“Over time our research will benefit Unipart customers, suppliers and the wider UK manufacturing base.

“Also, from an employer’s perspective, this course will provide graduates that are able to deliver value to the business a lot quicker.”

“I previously had to hire people and found it very difficult because in my opinion there isn’t really the finished article out there.

“Here employers are getting something more to start with, they are taking on someone who has demonstrated that they can do the job and also that they want to continue doing it and that is very important.”

“We have not done this before, it is a new model and we have to be agile enough to work with the students and get feedback from them about how they feel and how Unipart feel about it to constantly improve.”

“We want this to be a scalable model and we want to do more of it.  Exactly what we do here with the Unipart platform may be different in another sector and I want to take as much as I can from this programme and learn all that I can.”