Secretary of State for Business, Sajid Javid has announced a £4m investment which will support the University of Sheffield to build one of the largest dynamic test facilities in the UK.
The Business Secretary announced the investment from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) during his trade mission with the Prime Minister to Malaysia and Singapore.
The new £4m grant takes the total current investment in the facility to £11m.
The Structural Dynamics Laboratory for Verification and Validation – to be built on the second phase of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Park – will be unique in its research and development offer to businesses across the UK.
It will drive forward collaborative research with industry and cement Sheffield’s position as a world leader in structural dynamics.
The facility will enable the University of Sheffield to work with industry to test and research engineering structures and systems from the component level to full scale, alongside allowing testing across a range of environments previously inaccessible to academic research.
A modular environmental chamber in the laboratory will be able to control temperature, humidity and wind speed as well as simulate rain and snow.
The ability to test in realistic conditions at full scale will pave the way for engineers to create lighter, greener, safer structures.
The development of the new Structural Dynamics Laboratory for Verification and Validation has been widely endorsed by industry. Many leading companies, including Airbus and Rolls-Royce, have written letters of support for the new facility which will transform the opportunities to research in structural dynamics in the UK.
Pro-vice-chancellor for Research and Innovation at the University of Sheffield, Professor Richard Jones commented: “Computer simulation of models of the way large structures behave in use are increasingly powerful, but for industry to realise the full benefits of these techniques we need to test these models against large scale experimental data, so they can be confident of their results.
“This facility will allow us to do this testing, giving industry confidence in the models and allowing faster and therefore more cost effective product developments in a number of different industry sectors.
“Better modelling also means we will be able to move from structures that have a safe-life design philosophy to a damage-tolerant one which offers cost savings through extending the lifetime of existing structures.”
The announcement closely follows the Minister for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson’s announcement of a pioneering new education route for successful apprentices to study advanced vocational University degrees, as part of their apprenticeship training, during a recent visit to the University’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).
Led by the Dynamics Research Group (DRG) in the University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, the laboratory will offer significant benefits across a range of industrial sectors including energy; aerospace; renewables, and medical engineering.
The DRG is already one of the largest specialist groups in the world and it’s hoped that the new facility will enable the DRG to become the primary resource for structural dynamics within the EU.
Construction is already underway on the first project at the site – the £43m Factory 2050, which will be the UK’s first fully reconfigurable assembly and component manufacturing facility for collaborative research.
Plans are also in place to develop the existing Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) which could create 1,800 new jobs and provide an annual direct contribution of up to £74.2m to the local economy.
Other new research buildings could include the £30m National Material Institute, which is part of the Sir Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials announced in December, and a £20m Fast Make Centre of Excellence.